Mar 132019

3000acres’ issue of the month: to fence or not to fence – a council conundrum

At 3000acres, we spend a lot of time talking to councils about possible community garden projects. There are many aspects of community garden designs that councils are happy to leave to the community to decide, but one component that they sometimes have strong feelings about (on both sides!) is fencing.

Fences can represent different levels of protection for a community garden – dog-proof, possum-proof or even people-proof – but some councils are resistant to fence new community growing projects at all. For some, even if a fence is unlocked, it represents a barrier to what is intended as public space and, with allotment gardening, even a privatisation of public space.

On the other hand, in some built up areas where community gardens are desperately needed for residents without their own growing space, a fence can deter vandalism. While we haven’t yet seen a significant amount of damage in open gardens we’ve worked with, there have been issues with graffiti, theft of tools, and the systematic pulling out of seedlings by a disgruntled local.

While fencing can be polarising at a management level, we’re interested in some of the emerging compromises – such as a fenced veggie patch and unfenced surrounding orchard. West Brunswick Community Garden has an open food forest and a low fence around their garden which still allows for compost scraps to be passed over. Rushall Community Garden has both composting and growing space outside of their fenced area. We hope that these combinations of fenced and unfenced growing can serve as examples to councils newer to community garden builds.

Darebin Sustainable Food Leaders Forum

Every six months Lee Tozzi from Darebin Council organises many of the important local food people to get together for a chat. They met last week and the theme for the discussion was community gardening. There are at least 11 community gardens in Darebin (see our website for details), so it was an interesting discussion. Three points from me:

  • There are different models of community garden, both organisationally and from a governance perspective. The spectrum ranges from allotments, through various membership arrangements, to gardens that are fully open to the public. I have gone through the 44 community gardens in North East Melbourne that I have some familiarity with and categorised them: 7 are basically allotments only; 11 are membership-based at a cost; 6 are membership-based, but membership is free; and 20 are open to the public. I have listed the 44 community gardens on our website, organised by category, and including contact details.
  • If you have any interest in community gardening, you really should read up about Incredible Edible Todmorden (the first of what are now 700 Incredible Edible groups worldwide). One obvious way you can do this is by looking at their website but instead I would recommend that you start by watching two outstanding videos: the peas and love revolution – a presentation by Mary Clear and how we can eat our landscapes – a TED talk by Pam Warhurst. The two videos are both very informative and extremely funny.
  • If your community garden ever has any news, or organises any events, I would be more than happy to publicise in this newsletter. Just email me.

Dinner Drop Warrandyte

Dinner Drop Warrandyte is a new, local community initiative to provide pre-cooked meals for families in hardship. Read more in the article from the Warrandyte Diary on the right. They are asking members of the community to donate store-bought or homemade pre-cooked frozen meals. The guidelines for both the cooking and the labelling can be found on their Facebook page. If you are interested in participating, email Patricia.

News about local food producers

I had occasion to audit Nillumbik Cellars’ (Diamond Creek) list of local wines recently. If you want to buy a selection of Nillumbik wines, this is certainly a good place to go as they stock wines from 6(!) of the wineries: Buttermans Track (St Andrews); Kings of Kangaroo Ground (Kangaroo Ground); Panton Hill Vineyard & Winery (Panton Hill); Swipers Gully Vineyard (Kangaroo Ground); Wedgetail Estate (Cottles Bridge); and Yarrambat Estate Vineyard (Yarrambat).

Earthbound Bolton is a new cafe in Eltham. Mostly vegan (see menu right). See their Facebook page. My Goosey Gander cakes are available for dessert. 266 Bolton Street (where Flamin Cafe Bar Grill used to be and, before that, Colin’s Place). Welcome Rach and Luke!

Imbue Distillery, from Eltham, recently won a silver prize in the ‘contemporary’ category of the 2019 Australian Gin Awards.

Lovegrove Vineyard & Winery are no more.

White cabbage moth

If you’re growing brassicas, you’re hopefully aware that the dreaded white cabbage moth tends to ruin any unprotected early crops. What happens is that the moths lay their eggs on the seedlings and the caterpillars then hatch and eat the seedlings. Fine netting can stop the moths from reaching the plants to lay their eggs. Carol Woolcock has sent in a picture of her elegant exclusion net, a recycled curtain from the Op Shop. Usually available for $2 or so. Thanks, Carol!

What is the best soil conditioner?

Local gardeners Leaf, Root & Fruit recently reported on the results of their trial of different soil conditioners. Their overall conclusion: “the best soil amendments in our trial were worm castings in heavy doses, chicken manure in light doses, and Richgro Organic Fruit and Citrus Fertiliser [their top ranked Certified Organic fertiliser]“.

Their trial of soil conditioners complemented two of their previous trials, namely:

  • Which potting mix is best? They concluded: “There is a huge variation in the performance of each of the potting mixes.” and thus “Never underestimate the importance of good quality soil in growing your fruit and veggies. Interestingly, price isn’t always a good indicator of quality.
  • Which commercial fertiliser is best? Their main conclusion: “even with the best quality fertilisers, terrible soil is difficult to improve“.

Leaf, Root & Fruit is one of our best local blogs. To help you, all of their posts about food growing can be now be easily accessed from this page on our website.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Marina’s article on cold composting.

Joke of the week

What do you call a conversation between two artichokes? A heart to heart.

Read more jokes.

Gut feelings – an exhibition at Melbourne Museum

Meet your helpful gut microbes. Walk amongst these beautiful, dynamic entities in the gut tunnel.” From 16th March to 30th November. Mind and Body Gallery, Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street, Carlton. Buy tickets ($15, includes entry to museum).

New events – not cooking

Bees buzz: Saturday, 16th March, 11am-2pm; Chirnside Park.

What: Peter, the Backyard Honey beekeeper, will unpack the mystery of the honey-bee. Watch a live honey-bee colony at work. Taste raw un-heated local honey. Handle apiary tools and find out what you can do to ensure the health of local bees and pollinators.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.

Heritage Fruits Society: Saturday, 23rd March, 2-5pm; Sylvester Hive, Preston.

What: Join John Pinniger, from Heritage Fruits Society, at Sylvester Hive Community Garden as he talks about: the history of the Heritage Fruits Society; preserving rare & heritage species of fruit trees; and seed conservation. There will be apple tasting of old varieties.
Cost: gold coin donation.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Bee hive tour: Sunday, 24th March, 10.30am-12.30pm; Rivers of Yarrambat.

What: Your tour, led by Nathan Stewart, a professional Doreen-based beekeeper from Maya ‘Xala Honey, will include suiting up in protective gear, lighting a bee smoker, and spending two hours as real life beekeeper. Initially, Nathan will give you some tips on what to look for inside a hive including how to spot the Queen and where to look to potentially witness the birth of a new worker bee. Then, together you will lift the lid of a busy hive, watch bees at work creating honey, pull out a frame of honey ready for extraction, and get up close with more than 100,000 bees! After the lid is closed, you will sample some of the honey direct from the hives while enjoying a refreshing honey tonic.
Cost: $75 (plus various packages for families).
Bookings: their website.

Introduction to composting and worm farming: Wednesday, 27th March, 7-9pm; Mooroolbark.

What: This workshop will help you to choose a composting system that meets your needs, and show you how to use it to create soil conditioner or fertiliser for your veggie garden.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Healthy productive compost and worms: Thursday, 28th March, 6.30-9pm; Bulleen Art and Garden.

What: What you will learn: the importance of compost for soil health; how to fix common composting problems; and setting up and looking after a worm farm. Presented by Diana Cotter. Learn how to make great compost, the essential ingredient for a thriving and healthy garden. Look at worm farms and Bokashi as other options. They will also show you how to make a DIY worm farm using recycled products.
Cost: $50.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

Dessert beer and sweets master class: Saturday, 30th March, 12.30-2.30pm; 3 Ravens Brewery, Thornbury.

What: What you will learn: taste your way through dessert beers from The 3 Ravens under the expert guidance of one of their brewery team; see behind the scenes of a fully functioning craft brewery; and learn The 3 Ravens approach to dessert beers. What you will get: brewery tour; sweets; and a guided tasting of all varieties of dessert beer.
Cost: $65.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

A Naturally Good catch up at That’s Amore Cheese: Saturday, 30th March, 2-4.30pm; That’s Amore Cheese, Thomastown.

What: Hear Connie Manglaviti, from Naturally Good, and Giorgio Linguanti, from That’s Amore Cheese, share their foodpreneur journeys and how their customers inspire them. Also how to get creative in putting together a platter with a focus on gluten free/ low fodmap options. Partake in a selection of antipasti (finely sliced prosciutto & porchetta), olives, rice crackers, crusty bread (gluten free), That’s Amore Cheese cheese, and a Naturally Good dessert platter. Finally, take your own Naturally Good goodie bag home.
Cost: $50.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Wicking bed workshop: Sunday, 31st March, 10am-midday; Melbourne Food Hub, Alphington.

What: Join Melbourne Food Hub and Very Edible Gardens to learn about wicking beds. See wicking beds already in use on site and learn how to build your own.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: TryBooking.

Chardonnay master class: Sunday, 31st March, 12.30-2.30pm; St Andrews.

What: Hosted by winemaker James Lance, from Punch. Includes a vertical tasting of Punch’s Chardonnay from 2010 to today and a chat about the origins of the grape. Also includes a sampler of local cheese and bread.
Cost: $29.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Open Farm Day: Sunday, 7th April, 10am-4pm; Nillumbik.

What: Open Farm Day is your chance to visit working farms and meet local farmers. The activities will include farm tours, live demonstrations, farm animals and product tastings. The farms participating in 2019 include: Apted’s Orchards; Balashi Flowers; Hildebrand Ridge Organic Vineyard; Kings of Kangaroo Ground; Nillumbik Estate; Omaru Alpacas; Shaws Road Winery; Sugarloaf Produce; Turners Bakehouse Eatery; Weeping Grevillea Nursery; Yarrambat Estate Vineyard; and Yarra Valley Custom Meats.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.

Beekeeping basics: Monday, 29th April, 7-8.15pm; Ivanhoe Library.

What: Interested in bees and beekeeping but don’t know where to start? Learn about this intriguing hobby from an experienced beekeeper.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.

New events – cooking

Tomato passata workshop: Sunday, 24th March, 12.30-4.30pm; Melbourne Food Hub, Alphington.

What: You will learn how to make a traditional passata (10kg tomato box provided per person), enjoy a seasonal lunch with local wines, and take home your 10kg worth of passata bottles. BYO bottles and they will supply caps and sealing tools.
Cost: $117 (includes tomatoes and lunch).
Bookings: TryBooking.

Maltese Easter sweets: Thursday, 4th April, 6.30-7.30pm; Coburg Library.

What: Author of Traditional Sweet Recipes from Malta, Sharon Spiteri will discuss the significance of traditional Maltese sweets and demonstrate how to prepare kwarezimal, a sweet eaten during Lent.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Toastie press sesh – kitchen hacks and tasty tips: Wednesday, 17th April, 6-9pm; Kathleen Syme Library, Carlton.

What: This event is for young adults aged 15 to 30. Facilitated by the Youth Food Movement. The humble toastie machine has long been underrated as a singular use kitchen utensil, but it’s time to grab a paper towel, clean off the melted cheese and unlock the secret powers of your toastie machine! This workshop is about creating culinary delights using only a toastie machine and a student budget.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Summary of upcoming events – not cooking

Over the next week
Over the next month

Summary of upcoming events – cooking

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

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