Mar 082017

Joke of the week

One day, you’re the best thing since sliced bread. The next, you’re toast.

Mac’s tip of the week

Although our official European calendar says that summer ended at the end of February, we are definitely not yet in Autumn, so don’t rush to plant ‘Autumn’ seedlings just yet. No doubt, (I hope), you have all heard that Melbourne in fact has 6-8 seasons, and we are still in late summer. Our true locals, the Wurundjeri, knew that there were 6-8 seasons, and they signalled these by when certain plants would flower, animals would breed, eggs would hatch, etc. Even today, some fisherman apparently use the flowering of the Coastal Tea Tree in early November to mark the entry of snapper into Port Phillip Bay. So keep watering, probably until April, and don’t plant your autumn/winter crops too early. Until next time, remember to wash your hands after gardening.

Click here to view all of Mac’s tips.

Want some free coffee grounds? Try Reground

If you want lots of coffee grounds at zero cost and you live in Melbourne, then Reground may well be the organisation for you. They will deliver to your door(!) and as often as you want. As far as I can make out, the only potential issue is their (large) minimum delivery quantities: 2 bins if you live in inner Melbourne or 7 bins if you live in outer Melbourne. Thus far, they have re-purposed 26 tonnes of ground coffee into gardens around Melbourne. If you want some, contact Ninna Larsen by phone (0466 242575) or email.

Here is what Ninna says: “Reground is a sustainable waste management service for used ground coffee. We re-direct organic coffee waste away from landfill, re-distributing it to gardens city-wide, reducing the carbon impact of coffee consumption. There are around 2,600 cafes in the City of Melbourne. These cafes produce around 160,000kg of coffee-ground waste every month, contributing around 260 tonnes of methane gas to our atmosphere. Ground coffee is exceptionally nutrient-rich material, making a powerful soil amendment and a highly sought after organic matter for community gardens, farmers, and home-gardeners alike. By collecting the used coffee grounds from cafes and roasteries, Reground provides an innovative and dynamic service, creating a positive impact on the environment and their communities. We now also pick up chaff, which is high in carbon, and deliver it for free.

Here is what newsletter reader Stuart Rodda says: “I am exceptionally pleased with how it has worked out with Reground. They have brought regular deliveries of bulk amounts of coffee grounds, virtually free of any rubbish, and I am already starting to see beneficial effects in my garden. Where I have placed pure coffee grounds in the garden (but not directly into soil where I am about to plant because of known inhibitory properties of fresh grounds on plant growth), the coffee has become a seething mass of earthworms. By the time the worms are finished with it, it will be that ‘black gold’ of gardening, worm castings.

Newsletter reader Bev Robertson says simply: “Reground are doing a great job.

Reground’s details have been added to our local resources page, which now includes 4 providers of free coffee grounds.

Reground are currently crowd funding for a delivery van. Go to their Pozible page and decide if you want to back them.

On the subject of crowdfunding, I’ve been backing a 60 second salad maker on Kickstarter. If you are backing any interesting food-related projects, tell us about it.

Extreme composting

In February, Marina Bistrin gave a presentation at Eltham Farmers’ market on ‘extreme composting – including weeds, prunings, etc in your compost. She has now kindly provided her notes for the website. Here is how she introduces the topic: “If you have the time and space at your place to compost the contents of your green bin, it’s a great thing to do. You can compost everything, from the easiest to the most difficult weeds, logs etc. It makes fertile, nutrient-dense compost, especially if you include the weeds. It lessens the work that your Council has to do with picking up green waste and transporting it to sites in the countryside that will do the composting (also, the compost that you buy back from Council often includes woody waste in the mix which results in a less nutritious compost). Finally, dealing with your weeds can be fun and a great children’s activity (I think squashing with rocks is especially enjoyable!). Why are weeds good for your compost? Weeds have a lot of leafy matter full of minerals and many deep-rooted weeds mine minerals from deep in the soil that your veggie plant roots can’t reach and that have been washed down out of the top layer. The weeds bring these nutrients up to the surface in their leaves, which you can then compost. Many weeds are also part of herbal medicine, and some are classed as tonics because they have so much nutrition in them. The difficulty with weeds and prunings is that some can re-grow in your compost and therefore need to be treated differently.” She then goes on to discuss the various methods of killing plants. Read Marina’s notes.

Warranwood Food Swap

The Wonga Park Food Swap has moved to Warranwood Primary School and is now called the Warranwood Food Swap. The contact person is Kirsty Bishop-Fox ( The swap will continue to be on the 3rd Sunday of the month; however, due to Easter, it will be on the 4th Sunday during April.

Some pictures of newsletter readers

In Guy and Susan’s garden In Robin and Paul’s garden

Open farm day

Open farm day, which will take place on Sunday, 2nd April, is your chance to visit working farms and meet local farmers. This year’s participating farms come from Nillumbik, Whittlesea and the Kinglake Ranges. More details should be available in next week’s newsletter but, in the meantime, you can check their Facebook page.

Darebin Community Grants: the community support program is now open

Both cash grants and venue hire subsidies are available. The priority areas include “proposals that promote and encourage the establishment of community gardens”. Applications close on Monday, 24th April. Two information sessions are being held: Thursday 16th March, 10am-midday, Shire Hall, 286 Gower Street, Preston; and Thursday 30th March, 6-8pm, Council Chambers, 350 High Street, Preston. For more information, visit

Hurstbridge Sow & Grow Garden Club

The Hurstbridge Sow & Grow Garden Club meet on the 1st Tuesday of each month, 7.15-9.15pm, at Hurstbridge Community Hub. Each month, they have a speaker. Their schedule for the rest of 2017 is:

  • 4 Apr: Ryan Young on habitat gardening.
  • 2 May: Attila Kapitany on succulents.
  • 6 Jun: Vaughn Greenhill on landscape design – working with nature.
  • 4 Jul: Pete the Permie on berry fruits.
  • 1 Aug: Jan Morris on protective garden accessories.
  • 5 Sep: Maria Ciavarella on thrifty gardening.
  • 3 Oct: David Redfern on natives grown at Cranbourne – suited to our local area.
  • 7 Nov: Arja Toivanen on taking cuttings (hands-on propagation workshop).
  • 5 Dec: Mark Ludlow on bonsai; Christmas party.

I would just like to highlight the 3rd October talk (David Redfern on natives grown at Cranbourne – suited to our local area): when my wife and I were planning the 2016 plantings in our garden, we went on a free, guided tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne. The focus of the tour was precisely the same as that of the 3rd October talk, namely to provide us with a list of possible, native plants that would suit where we live. The resulting list was about 60 species long, from which we eventually chose around 30 to actually plant. The whole exercise was really helpful to us.

The Nillumbik Garden Club meet on the 1st Monday of each month, starting at 7.45pm, at Metzner Hall within the St. Vincent’s Care precinct in Eltham. They don’t, however, publish a forward schedule of speakers and topics.

New events

Growing tropical and subtropical fruit in Melbourne

What: Presented by Angelo Eliades.
When: Friday, 10th March, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery by phone (8850 3030).
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

What are you worth?

What: Become a part of a community of cooperation and solidarity in Moreland. Neeboz and SEEDS Communal Garden are identifying and mapping all of the individual, organisational and community assets of Moreland with the aim of developing and strengthening creative, autonomous and locally-rooted ways of meeting basic needs. This workshop will take place alongside and following the SEEDs Garden Food Swap.
When: Saturday, 11th March, 11am-1pm.
Where: SEEDs Communal Garden, Brunswick.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Maxine by phone (0431 368404) or email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Become a junior chocolatier

What: In a 45 minute ‘parent-free zone’, children aged 6–12 years can learn from their chocolatiers how to make their very own chocolate creations. Includes personalised badge, chef’s hat and apron, graduation certificate plus take home three chocolate creations to enjoy.
When: Saturday, 18th March, 9-9.45am; Tuesday, 4th April, at 9-9.45am, 10-10.45am, 11-11.45am, midday-12.45pm, 1.30-2.15pm, and 2.30-3.15pm; Wednesday, 5th April, at 9-9.45am, 10-10.45am, 11-11.45am, midday-12.45pm, 1.30-2.15pm, and 2.30-3.15pm; Saturday, 29th April, 9-9.45am; Saturday, 20th May, 10-10.45am.
Where: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, Yarra Glen.
Cost: $40.
Enquiries: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie by phone (9730 2777) or email.
Bookings / Further information: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie website.

Chocolate discovery class

What: Anyone aged 12 & above can join them for a one-hour chocolate discovery class, indulging in a range of chocolate tastings, crafting your very own chocolate bar, and delighting in six handmade filled truffles, while each is passionately explained by their European Chocolatier.
When: Saturday, 18th March and Saturday, 29th April, both 12.45-1.45pm.
Where: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, Yarra Glen.
Cost: $48.
Enquiries: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie by phone (9730 2777) or email.
Bookings / Further information: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie website.

Bees – focused hands-on beekeeping course

What: This course is designed to provide beekeepers with practical advice about managing hives (including Flow Hives) in autumn and winter as well as providing an understanding of a range of specialised beekeeping topics, including bee stings, bee genetics, queen raising and replacement, exotic bee pests and diseases, purifying wax and preparing creamed honey. The course has been developed from, and is consistent with, core and elective units of Beekeeping Certificate III. A feature of the course will be its emphasis on teaching beekeeping by having students open hives themselves. Under instruction from an experienced beekeeper, and in groups of three, students will spend two hours on each day of the course doing this (weather permitting).
When: Sunday, 19th March, 9am-5pm.
Where: Collingwood Children’s Farm Apiary.
Cost: $130.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Safe preserving techniques: bottled fruit, jams, pickles & relishes

What: What you will learn: select and re-use suitable jars and how to sterilise them; how to use standard kitchen equipment to make preserves, without needing to buy specialist items; and how to bottle fruit, and make jams, pickles and relishes and the science behind the techniques. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; small (new) jars of the 4 preserves made on the day; morning tea with real coffee and home-baked goodies; preserving basics booklet, authored by My Green Garden; and tastings of other preserves made by My Green Garden. Learn how to preserve the seasonal abundance of fruits and veggies safely, using a variety of techniques. These techniques can be used on most fruit and veggies so that you learn to make your own delicious preserves, with no artificial additives and nasty numbers. No preserving background is assumed as we go through the science of how to prevent food spoilage using the preserving methods of bottling, jam-making, pickling and making relishes or chutneys using beautiful seasonal produce. Dehydrating is also demonstrated. They will cover the jars and lids to use, safe storage and use. The workshop will be fully hands-on, where you are involved from the processes from start to finish.
When: Wednesday, 22nd March and Thursday, 11th May, both 10am-1.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $70.
Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Buzz inn – bringing beneficial insects to your garden

What: Beneficial insects are good friends in the garden, performing valued services like pollination and pest control. Learn more about which insects are beneficial, and the advantages of attracting these to your garden, as well as learning how to make an insect hotel in which these good garden friends can set up house! Ian Smith, a local entomologist with a PhD in the beneficial bugs in the garden, and Katrina Forstner, a local gardener, bee enthusiast and maker of insect hotels, will combine their knowledge and skills to get you started on attracting good bugs to your garden. And while you’re learning about beneficial bugs, why not enjoy an organic herbal tea or raw organic snack from Shoku Iku – a cafe dedicated to wellness and conscious living, and offering organic, seasonal, healthy food and produce.
When: Thursday, 23rd March, 6-7.15pm.
Where: Shoku Iku, Northcote.
Cost: $10.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Setting up a community garden in Wollert

What: The Friends of Eucalypt Community Association are ready to start building a community garden. You are invited to be part of the discussions. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. For those who bake, please bring some goodies to share.
When: Saturday, 25th March, starting at 9am.
Where: BlueStone Kitchen, Wollert.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Friends of Eucalypt by email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Introduction to natural beekeeping (two-day)

What: Suitable for beginners, and ideal for the backyarder, this two-day event is designed to provide participants with the information they need to start natural beekeeping with confidence. It will cover such subjects as: boxes, equipment, legislation, choosing the location, ongoing maintenance and harvesting. It will also hive manipulations and some honey tasting. After the course, for participants who do not currently have a hive, the course organisers may be able to provide bees for your hive at no cost during swarming season. If interested, email them for an enrolment form. The event is being run by the Natural Beekeeping Group of Permaculture Victoria.
When: Saturday, 25th March and Sunday, 26th March, both 10am-5pm.
Where: Mitcham.
Cost: $200 for members of Permaculture Victoria; $250 for non-members.
Enquiries / Bookings: Claire Smith by email.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Yarra Valley Beer & Cider Festival

What: The focus of the festival will be to allow you to sample some of the finest boutique beer and cider that Victoria has to offer, with many exhibitors being close to home. Quality food stalls will be in attendance, combined with entertainment, it will be a great day out for all. The festival is an initiative by the Rotary Club of Wandin, in conjunction with some passionate community beer and cider lovers.
When: Saturday, 1st April, 11am-5.30pm.
Where: Lilydale Showgrounds.
Cost: $16.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

How to make sense of food labels

What: Tour a supermarket and learn how to read and make sense of food labels so that it is easier to make healthy choices. The tours are led by healthAbility’s qualified dietitian and open to anyone interested in healthy eating. Bookings (by phone) essential as places are limited.
When: Monday, 3rd April, 9.30-11am.
Where: Eltham.
Cost: $15 (includes a healthy shopping guide booklet).
Enquiries / Bookings: healthAbility by phone (9430 9100).
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Fermenting and infusing at home

What: Fermenting and infusing at home – sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and vinegars with The Urban Pear. Join The Urban Pear for ideas, tips and tricks for preparing fermented food and beverages at home. You will take home notes, recipes and a bottle of herb vinegar.
When: Tuesday, 11th April, 11am-midday.
Where: North Fitzroy Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calender entry.

Artisan pasta – fettuccini

What: What you will learn: how to make and knead egg-based pasta dough; use traditional pasta machines to roll and cut pasta; and how to use selected vegetables to make colourful fettuccini, including vegan options. What you get: morning tea, including real coffee; fettuccini to take home to cook on the day or dry or freeze for future use; and a handout covering the techniques covered in the workshop. Learn how to make pasta like an Italian! You will use age-old techniques to make a classic egg pasta, to be transformed into delicious fettuccini. Then, using the basic pasta-making technique, you will incorporate colourful vegetables to make fettuccini in a variety of colours. You can also opt to make your fettuccini suitable for vegans. Your pasta will be ready to take home to cook for a lovely meal. Instructions on how to dry the pasta or freeze it for future use will be given. Easy sauce recipes will also be discussed.
When: Friday, 21st April, 10am-12.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Olive magic – preserving olives

What: What you will learn: how to transform the raw olive into something deliciously edible; how to cure and pickle olives using a variety of different techniques; and how to cure olives and have them ready for an antipasto platter in less than a fortnight. What you get: jars of olives ready to continue the pickling process at home; samples of olives that have been prepared ready to dress and eat; recipes for the techniques covered in the workshop; complimentary tea or coffee with biscotti from the kitchen of Massaros winery; and an authentic experience of picking the olives that we will be using in the workshop. Presented by Maria Ciavarella in collaboration with Massaros Winery. Olives straight from a tree are inedibly bitter and must be cured and then pickled somehow to make them edible. In this workshop, they will cover several different techniques to cure olives, each with a different waiting – or curing – period. In order to fully experience the stages of the processes, some olives will have been partially cured before the class for you to continue the process; as well as taking home fresh olives for you to start from scratch. Tastings will be available so you can decide which style is your preferred. We will use both black and green olives. If you grow olives, bring along some samples so that they can suggest some ways to cure them.
When: Friday, 28th April and Monday, 1st May, both 9.30-11.30am.
Where: Massaros Winery, Kangaroo Ground.
Cost: $85.
Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Raw living whole foods with Valentina Rise

What: What you will learn: basics of raw food; make guilt free treats; and learn what super foods are. What you will get: samples of all the food they make; and recipes to take home.
You will discuss the nutritional benefits of superfoods, and how introducing more raw (natural plant-based) foods into your daily eating regimes can assist in your over-all health. Eating the right foods can help with reducing stress, anxiety and depressive states of being, increase your immunity and gut health and bring greater clarity into your lives. You will learn raw food cooking skills and get to feast on many different foods from savory to sweet healthy treats (e.g. raw pad thai, raw stir fry, raw caramel slice, raw ice cream, raw lemon slice and raw cheesecake). No refined white processed sugars or products will be used. You will gain knowledge on the best natural sweeteners and produce to use to assist in optimal health.
When: Saturday, 6th May, 3-6pm.
Where: CERES.
Cost: $70.
Enquiries: CERES by phone (9389 0100).
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

Click here for the complete calendar of upcoming events. Click here for help in how to view the calendar selectively (e.g. search for events in a given suburb).

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