May 102023

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Alison Worrad, Celesta Van der Paal, Chris Chapple, Lee Hirsh, Oren Rozensweig, Ros Bonomi and Soren Kean.

Abbotsford Farmers’ Market is re-opening

As reported in The Age (see article right, published on 5th May), Abbotsford Farmers’ Market is re-opening on Saturday, 13th May. This time round it will be run by Regional Farmers Markets, who also run Heathmont Farmers’ Market. It is not yet clear whether the market will be weekly or monthly.

What’s your favourite farmers’ market?

Vote in the delicious Harvey Norman produce awards. Closing date: 31st May.

The Veggie Empire on Gardening Australia

As envisaged in last week’s newsletter, The Veggie Empire did feature on last Friday’s Gardening Australia. Watch the 6 minute video.

There are now videos of 52 local food producers on our website.

Do you know?

Banyule Council has been promoting the use of green cone bio-digesters to help manage household waste and to divert some of it from landfill. Read their website page on the subject. One of our newsletter readers (who wishes to remain anonymous) is interested in people’s experiences with using this equipment. He says “There are only two of us (small eaters, with not a lot of waste) and it seems to be getting higher and there are odors are times. It looks like the rats have had a dig but didn’t get in. The ground around it is pretty hard and dry and the contents also seem to be pretty dry. I’ve seen activators but they are from UK and expensive. Does anyone have any DIY activator ideas? Should I add some water or what else should I do?Email us with your ideas.

Do you want?

Ros Bonomi is offering her bathtub for free. It is a perfectly good bathtub but she is about to renovate her bathroom and unfortunately the bath tub has to go. If no one wants it, it will have to go into landfill. It’s a pretty standard size: 165cm from rim to rim. Pickup from Diamond Creek.

If you are potentially interested, email us and we will put the two of you in touch.

Want to know about foraging mushrooms?

At the North East Region Permaculture stall at this Sunday’s (14th May) Eltham Farmers’ Market, they will have someone on hand to chat with you about foraging for mushrooms, particularly how to identify pine mushrooms, when & where to find them and ways to cook & eat them.

As detailed later under events, there are also numerous mushroom foraging activities coming up over the coming month or so. Jess (Fraulein Fungi) will be leading a session on Thursday, 25th May, 6.30-8.30pm at Collingwood. And Anna Matilda (The Urban Nanna) will be leading sessions at Forest Hill on Saturday 13th May, Sunday 21st May, Saturday 27th May, Sunday 4th June and Saturday 10th June, each 10am-3pm.

A young/emerging farmer opportunity

Sustain are making a 900m2 space in Alphington available for someone to operate their own sole trader business, sell their produce and engage the community within the space. Sustain will cover the rent and water for a minimum of 1 year. Closing date: 15th May. Read more and potentially apply.

Harriet’s Hungry Worms

Harriet’s Hungry Worms is a new illustrated book for children about, you guessed it, worms. Here’s the blurb: “Packed with worm facts, Harriet’s Hungry Worms is the ideal companion for worm warriors and curious composters keen to roll up their sleeves and put their kitchen food scraps to good use. Before they know it, young readers become equipped with the basic information that they need to start putting their own kitchen food scraps to good use!

We have two copies of the book to give away. Just send us an email confirming that there are some children in your family who might appreciate the book and we will select two of you at random to receive the free copies.

For those of you who don’t win the free copies, you can buy the book at a 20% discount by apply the coupon code ‘hungry’ on the publisher’s website. This reduces the cost from $35 ($25 + $10 p&p) to $30 ($20 + $10 p&p).

Another local repair cafe

Richmond Repair Corner at Burnley Backyard, 49 Tudor Street, Richmond. On the last Sunday of each month, 10am-midday.

That makes a total of 10 local repair cafes on in our website database.

The history of aprons

[Variants of the material below have been circulating the Internet for some time. The original version was written by someone called Tina Trivett in 1999, who posted it on a random (and long lost) poetry website.]

The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons required less material. And, along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the autumn, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.

Sweet chilli ginger sauce (by Celesta Van der Paal)

A bountiful crop of home grown chillies has motivated me (Celesta) to preserve the chillies in a range of sauces and pastes. Hot chillies are both easy to grow and easy to preserve. A calcium deficiency and irregular watering can result in blossom end rot, but this can be easily avoided by adding calcium (e.g. gypsum) to your soil and providing a consistent supply of water.

Here is my favourite recipe for sweet chilli ginger sauce.


100g long red chillies
5cm ginger, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups sugar
2 cups rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce


Combine the chilli, ginger, garlic and ¼ cup of water in a processor and process until finely chopped.

Combine the sugar and vinegar in a saucepan over low heat without boiling until the sugar dissolves. Simmer until the syrup has thickened a little.

Add the chilli mix and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the fish sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal with sterilised lids. When cool, store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Note that Coles sells 6 brands of sweet chilli sauce, of which 4 are imported from Thailand and 2 are produced in Australia. Woolworths sells 8 brands of sweet chilli sauce, of which 4 are imported from Thailand and 4 are produced in Australia.  Every brand in each supermarket, except Mingle, adds xantham gum as a stabiliser/thickener. Mingle use tapioca flour and monk fruit extract.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was the page in our Local Food Directory about The Veggie Empire.

b33e661f-c100-4ebe-9ffa-847952e0da4e.jpgJoke (or pun) of the week

Submitted by Lee Hirsh: Becoming a vegetarian is a huge missed steak.

Read more jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ and other food markets

Abbotsford Farmers’ Market is re-opening under new ownership and is taking place this coming Saturday.

Food swaps
Community gardens

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

Community olive harvesting day; Thursday, 18th May, 10am-midday; free; Fitzroy.

Learn how to safely harvest from the ground. The harvested olives will go into the CERES Olives to Oil communal oil pressing and participants will receive a small amount of oil to be collected after the oil is pressed.

Nutrition and lifestyle for autoimmune diseases; Sunday, 21st May, 1-2.30pm; free; Greensborough.

Dr. Malcolm Mackay will discuss the nutrition and lifestyle approach to treating rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other common autoimmune diseases. He will explain the role of the gut microbiome in regulating the immune system and present dietary strategies for reducing inflammation and creating a healthy microbiome. Organised by Green Karma.

Intro to backyard farming – planning your garden; Saturday, 27th May, 9-11am; $20 ($10 per hour); Preston.

Jemma will give you a guided tour of the farm. Learn how to make key growing decisions, where to source useful inputs and what to plant now. Organised by Oakhill Food Justice Farm.

Type 2 diabetes – prevention and reversal; Saturday, 10th June, 11am-midday; free; Fitzroy North.

Nina Trinquet will discuss whether or not reversing diabetes is possible. Organised by Green Karma.

Herbalism and gut health with The Perma Pixie; Wednesday, 14th June, 6.30-8.30pm; $45 ($23 per hour); Fitzroy North.

Taj Scicluna, The Perma Pixie, will share some herbalism insights. For example, probiotics need to be nurtured, and ingesting a variety of phytochemical can help with this. Herbs are high in phytochemical compounds that can assist the transofrmation and stabilisation of gut health.

Grow your own seedlings; Saturday, 24th June, 9-11am; $20 ($10 per hour); Preston.

Create a seed-raising mix and grow some seedlings. In this workshop, Jemma will discuss where to source inputs and seeds to have the best possible chance of growing healthy starts for your backyard garden. Organised by Oakhill Food Justice Farm.

Wild mushroom foraging and fermentation for beginners; Saturday, 24th June, 10am-3pm; $180 ($60 per hour); Mount Evelyn.

Learn how to identify wild mushrooms and gather them safely. Take a guided walk to search for mushrooms in their natural habitat. The Fermented Mumma will show you how to use field guides, spore prints, and other tools to identify mushrooms by their colour, shape, texture and scent. You will also learn about the different parts of a mushroom, including the cap, stem, gills and pores, and how to distinguish between edible and poisonous species. After the foraging expedition, you will have the opportunity to taste and smell a variety of mushrooms, including some that are safe to eat and others that are not. To finish off, the Fermented Mumma will cook up a feast of fermented mushrooms. Organised by The Food School Yarra Valley.

Drink bottle carrier; Saturday, 24th June, 10am-3pm; $30 ($6 per hour); Kinglake.

Make a hands-free cross-body bag to fit your drink bottle and phone. Organised by Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House.

Winter fruit tree pruning workshop; Saturday, 1st July, 9am-1pm; $65 ($16 per hour); Edendale.

Winter is the best time to prune most deciduous fruit trees. Join Justin Calverley and learn how to best care for your fruit trees for health and to maximise your yield for next season. Take your gardening gloves, a hat and a pair of secateurs.

In May
In June
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Pizza making workshop and afternoon tea; Saturday, 20th May, 2-4pm; $15; Macleod.

Learn how to fire a pizza oven, make the dough and cook pizza. Take some toppings to share. The dough, tomato passata and cheese will be supplied. Organised by Sustainable Macleod.

Milk kefir magic; Tuesday, 23rd May, 6.30-8.30pm; $125 ($63 per hour); Fitzroy North.

They will show you how to easily incorporate this little SCOBY into your daily routine. You will make some milk kefir and then move onto flavouring, making butter, labneh, catching the whey and then making a naturally fizzy and gut-loving soda. You’ll go home with: a milk kefir SCOBY in a jar and ready to feed when you get home; a whey soda flavoured with fresh fruit of your choice to finish fermenting at home; milk kefir cultured butter; and an illustrated recipe card.

Cheese making at home; Saturday, 10th June, midday-4pm; $130 ($33 per hour); Kinglake.

Learn how to make ricotta, feta and halloumi cheese. You will make enough to take some home and also to taste test at lunch. Take along an apron, a glass jar and several plastic containers to take your cheese home. Organised b y Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House.

Italian kids cooking; Thursday, 29th June, 4.30-6.30pm; $35 ($18 per hour); Surrey Hills.

Your child will learn how to make Italian pasta from scratch. When they are finished cooking, the group will sit down to enjoy their home-cooked dinner. Teacher: Carmela. Organised by Balwyn Community Centre.

Authentic Mexican; Saturday, 1st July, 10am-3pm; $120 ($24 per hour); CERES.

What you will learn: Mexican cuisine; improve your culinary skills; and work with seasonal ingredients. Presenter: Matt Baker from Whe-Eat. Menu: blackened chicken thighs with quinoa; Mexican corn on the cob; Mexican white bait fritters tortillas with salsa crude; cactus and tomatillos salsa; crispy pulled pork carnitas; and dark chocolate mole.

French patisserie – croissants; Saturday, 1st July, 1.30-4pm; $60 ($24 per hour); Lower Templestowe.

Learn how to make the dough, the art of the fold, rolling the perfect croissant and how to prove and cook your eight croissants at home. Organised by Living And Learning @ Ajani.

In May
In June
Regular classes

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