Sep 132023

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Alice Glenn, Ann Stanley, Georgia Tracy and Graham Rou.

Getting to know bush tucker

Over the weekend, I went to a really interesting event organised by Sustainable Ivanhoe where Hayden Marks, founder of Melbourne Bushfood, talked about a range of bush foods and invited us to taste test about 10 of them (see left photo below).

Of the bush foods that we tasted, the one that I liked the best was perhaps Geraldton wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum) (see right photo below).


Later that day, I visited the Melbourne Bushfood shop and nursery in Fairfield and bought a Geraldton wax seedling to plant in my garden. The shop is at 49 Sparks Avenue, is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-4pm, and has a wide range of bush food plants for sale.

Here is a summary of what Hayden said about Geraldton wax.

This herb has zesty and uplifting leaves that are used as a garnish to bring a lemony flavour to your dish. Alternatively, blend the leaves with some oil and a pinch of salt to create a green salsa-verde paste. The flowers, whilst not super palatable, are edible in small quantities and can be used to decorate desserts and dishes.

The plant grows to around 2 metres high and requires full sun to part shade. It can be grown in the ground or in pots. It is relatively hardly and fairly easy to grow in the Melbourne climate. Endemic to Western Australia, it is adapted to dry lands, so water sparingly and ensure the soil at the base is dry before giving it another drink. The colourful flowers are great for attracting bees to the garden.

Different varieties of Geraldton wax taste different so, before you buy a seedling to plant in your garden, eat one of the leaves to make sure that you like the taste of that particular plant.

Do you want?

Graham Rou is moving house and has 1-1½ cubic metres of unused veggie soil from Bulleen Art and Garden Nursery to give away. Also, there are quite a few lengths of wood which could be used to build a large perimeter. Graham lives in Box Hill North. If you are interested in the soil and/or wood, contact Graham by phone (0404 374 919) or email ( First come, first served.

Can you suggest?

Newsletter readers Alice Glenn and Steph Hughes have started a business called Compost Kids setting up and maintaining compost bins at schools. To help them develop their thinking, they are wanting to visit some community gardens or equivalent on Wednesday, 20th September. They are particularly interested in hot composting bays – different designs and processes that people are using to compost fairly large amounts of organic waste quickly. If you have any suggestions about who they should potentially visit, email me and I will pass your suggestions on to them.

Croxton / Marra Guwiyap Community Garden (Northcote)

As you will see from the events listings later in this newsletter, Croxton / Marra Guwiyap Community Garden are having an open day on Sunday, 8th October, 11am-2pm. As well as alerting me to this event, they have updated the description of their garden on our website. They have also sent in the photo right with some of the items that they were able to purchase with the generous donations from their last year’s open garden.

It is always good when people send in photos to be included in future newsletters. If you ever have a photo that you think might be of interest to some of our readership, email it to me.

The Melbourne ‘Local Food Connections’ community radio show

This upcoming Sunday’s episode will feature Chelsea McNab talking about ECOSS, Ecological and Social Sustainability. Listen on 3CR (855 AM) on Sunday morning, 10-10.30am, by tuning into either the station (855 AM) or its livestream.

Audio recordings of previous episodes are available on their website.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was the video about Yarra Valley ECOSS.

Word of the month – Amuse-bouche

‘Amuse-bouche’, meaning a complementary bite-sized hors d’œuvre.

Read about previous words of the month.

Proverb (or phrase) of the month

On the wagon. Meaning: having given up drinking alcohol. Also off the wagon. Meaning: returned to drinking alcohol after an attempt to give it up. These phrases date back to the temperance movements in early 20th Century America and began as ‘on the water-cart’, before migrating to ‘on the water-wagon’ and finally to ‘on the wagon’. The water-carts were used to damp down dusty streets during dry weather and did not contain water for drinking. The phrase ‘on the water-cart’ meant that someone who had given up drinking alcohol would rather drink water from one of these carts than drink alcohol.

Read about more food-related proverbs.

Gardening quote of the month

Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” by Lady Bird Johnson.

Read more gardening quotes.

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

A man walks into a bakery, points to some bread and asks “is this gluten free?

The cashier replies, “no, it costs $4.50.

Read more jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ and other food markets
Food swaps
Community gardens

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

Keeping backyard chickens; Wednesday, 4th October, 6.30-8pm; free; Doncaster.

Ella, from Chooktopia, will cover the essentials of how to keep healthy, happy chooks in your backyard, including chook health, nutrition, housing, safety from predators and pest control. She will also talk about Council and local law considerations and guidelines and will take you on a virtual tour of her chookyard.

Diabetes and healthy eating for older adults; Thursday, 5th October, 11am-12.30pm; free; Lalor.

Someone from DPV Health will discuss diabetes and the importance of eating a healthy diet.

Queensland fruit fly – what you can do; Saturday, 7th October, 10.30-11.30am; free; Lilydale.

Kirsty Bishop-Fox will discuss: how to identify Queensland fruit fly (QFF) in fruit; how deter or manage QFF in your garden; and how to dispose of QFF when you do find it in your fruit or vegetables. She will also show you how to make a cheap and effective detection trap out of re-claimed materials that are easy to come by.

Croxton / Marra Guwiyap Community Garden open garden (Northcote); Sunday, 8th October, 11am-2pm; free; Northcote.

This open day is an opportunity for locals to check out the garden and meet their neighbours. Everyone is welcome. The planting team will be there to show off their vegetable crops, share their tips and knowledge and encourage people to join. Food, entertainment, and sample produce will be available. A shed generously donated by the Lions Club will be officially ‘opened’. Click here to read about the garden.

Kevin Heinze GROW Spring Fair (Coburg); Saturday, 14th October, 9am-3pm; free; Coburg.

There will be a wide variety of tomato and other vegetable seedlings for sale, plus perennials, herbs, succulents, shrubs and trees. Also, enjoy their homemade cakes and coffee. The tomato varieties will include Black Krim, Black Russian, Dr Walter Heirloom, Grosse Lisse, Juliette Hybrid, San Marzano, Tigerella, Tommy Toe and Valiant.

Kevin Heinze GROW Spring Fair (Doncaster); Saturday, 14th October, 9am-3pm; free; Doncaster.

There will be a wide variety of tomato and other vegetable seedlings for sale, plus perennials, herbs, succulents, shrubs and trees. Also, enjoy their homemade cakes and coffee. The tomato varieties will include Black Krim, Black Russian, Dr Walter Heirloom, Grosse Lisse, Juliette Hybrid, San Marzano, Tigerella, Tommy Toe and Valiant.

Citrus tree pruning workshop; Saturday, 14th October, 10am-midday; free; Bundoora.

You will learn how to prune citrus trees, including: how to assess your tree before pruning; where to make your pruning cuts; how much to take off; improving the shape and size of the tree; and increasing sunlight exposure. Take some secateurs if you have them.

Rushall Community Garden open day; Saturday, 14th October, 12.30-3pm; free; Fitzroy North.

See community gardening in action and pick up some homegrown goodies. The activities will include: seedlings and fresh garden produce for sale; baked goods, homemade jams and preserves; gardeners working their plots and sharing tips; and a BBQ, homemade lemon cordial, coffee and tea. Click here to read about the garden.

Unwrapped – food and beverage quick bites; Tuesday, 17th October, 7-9.15am; free; Epping.

The session will start with an express tour of the Melbourne Market. Three speakers will then discuss the ever-evolving food and beverage sector, including the evolving dynamics of consumer preferences and the balance between sustainable packaging practices, durability and logistics. The three speakers are: Mark Maskiell, CEO from Melbourne Market; Manpreet Sidhu, GM from Costa Group; and Stuart Mead, MD from Viking Food Solutions.

Edible weed walk; Sunday, 22nd October, 10.30am-12.30pm; free; Heidelberg West.

Join Adam Grubb, co-author of The Weed Forager’s Handbook, for an edible weed walk along Darebin Creek. Many of the common urban weed species of Melbourne are edible and can provide valuable and nutritious fresh food. Learn to enjoy dandelion, sow thistle, mallow, amaranth, wild onions, wild celery and stinging nettle. Learn about some of the ecological uses of weeds as soil improvers, soil indicators and compost additives. Also, many weeds are used by health practitioners for their curative properties.

Urban food gardening (8 sessions); consecutive Thursdays starting 26th October, 10am-2.30pm; $80 for all 8 sessions; Edendale.

This course is for people who love gardening and the outdoors, are considering a career in horticulture, would like to learn more about growing their own food successfully or who would like an introduction to aspects of working in the industry before choosing a specific course/study pathway. Tutor: Justin Calverley. Organised by Living & Learning Nillumbik.

Community garden tour; Saturday, 28th October, 10am-2.30pm; $10; Banyule.

Take an electric bus around Banyule to visit each of their five community gardens: Bellfield, Buna (Heidelberg West), Macleod, St Johns (Heidelberg) and Watsonia. The tour will end with lunch at Bellfield Community Garden.

Home brewing; Saturday, 28th October, 10am-2.30pm; $100 ($22 per hour); CERES.

What you will learn: how to make your own beer; all about full grain brewing; and the fermentation process. What you will get: samples of different beers; and recipes to take home. Presenter: Paul Rigby. The workshop will be a practical demonstration of full grain brewing covering ingredients (including malt, hops, yeast and water), equipment, brewing theory, and (most importantly) the brewing process (including mashing, lautering, boiling, sanitation, fermentation and packaging). Samples will be available for tasting.

Organic vegetable gardening; Saturday, 28th October, 10am-3pm; $120 ($24 per hour); CERES.

What you will learn: how to get the most from your garden and have an abundance of vegetables, fruits and herbs; insights into seasonal produce growing; and the skills and knowledge to create an abundant and productive garden. Presenter: Donna Livermore.

Foraging workshop; Saturday, 28th October, 1-3pm; $10; Ringwood.

Join Jess Cogger on a walk in the wild. Learn how to identify plants and forage edible weeds that surround us all. Organised by Central Ringwood Community Centre.

Edible weeds; Sunday, 29th October, 10am-midday; $60 ($30 per hour); CERES.

What you will learn: how to identify edible weeds; and how do use them in your everyday life. What you will get: detailed handouts; and samples in class of prepared edible weeds. Presenter: Lauren. Learn about seasonal edible weeds that thrive in Melbourne inner north, and gain knowledge about the plants’ culinary, medicinal and ecological uses.

Basic inoculation workshop; Saturday, 4th November, 2-4pm; $87 ($44 per hour); Alphington.

You will get a hands-on go at inoculating your own mushrooms. You will also be given a tour of the mushroom farm. Take a clean 2-10L bucket with a lid and some gloves. Presenter: Buttons. Organised by The Mushroomery.

In September
In October
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Mid-autumn moon cakes; Monday, 25th September, 6-7.30pm; free; Brunswick.

Cristina Chang will show you how to make moon cakes. Think mung bean, red bean and curried pork.

Cheesy stuffed arancini (for children); Thursday, 28th September, 11am-midday; $15; Lilydale.

For children aged 6-12. Parental supervision is required for 6-9 year olds. Learn how to make arancini balls with Glen from Glen Cooks Food. Organised by Lilydale Community House.

The cook program (9 sessions); on Thursdays starting 5th October, 9.30am-1.30pm; $50 ($1 per hour); Brunswick.

The objective is for you to develop skills, social connection, and self-confidence to seek further study or work in hospitality. You will prepare, eat and gain an overview of different styles and types of cooking. You will also learn how to cook for a large group. Organised by Brunswick Neighbourhood House.

Jaclyn Crupi; Wednesday, 18th October, 2-3pm; free; Northcote.

Jaclyn Crupi, author of Pasta Love, will discuss all things pasta.

Cooking for one (5 sessions); on Thursdays, starting 19th October, 11am-1pm; $50 ($5 per hour); Lilydale

Learn how to cook easily just for one person. Make the meals each week and eat together what you have made. Organised by Lilydale Community House.

Warm up with no waste cooking; Thursday, 19th October, 7-8.30pm; free; Thomastown.

Open Table will share some tips and tricks about reducing food waste and how to make delicious zero waste recipes.

Nutrition and food literacy (6 sessions); on Thursdays, starting 26th October, 9.30am-12.30pm; $70 ($4 per hour); Preston.

You will explore nutritional theory, healthy eating concepts and gain hands-on culinary skills. You will learn about the nutrients specific to each food group and their benefits, including how energy is balanced to maintain a healthy weight. The course will also cover how to decipher labelling on food packaging to build a healthy meal plan on a budget. Presenter: Bernadette Scicluna. Organised by Bridge Darebin.

Croissants workshop; Saturday, 28th October, 1.30-4pm; $64 ($26 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. Take an apron and a container. Organised by Living And Learning @ Ajani.

Healthy cooking hacks for families; Saturday, 28th October, 2-3.30pm; free; Lalor.

Julia, from Green Karma, will show you some delicious and healthy recipes that will feed your whole family in an economical and sustainable way.

Macarons workshop; Wednesday, 1st November, 6-8pm; $91 ($46 per hour); Lower Templestowe.

Tish will pass on her techniques for making macarons. Take an apron. A limit of 4 participants in total. Organised by Living And Learning @ Ajani.

Growing and cooking with bushfoods; Saturday, 4th November, 10am-3pm; $120 ($24 per hour); CERES.

What you will learn: how to identify and harvest bush foods; how to grow and maintain bush foods in the home garden; and how to incorporate bush foods into everyday recipes. Tour the CERES bush food gardens and gain knowledge of bush foods from further afar – tropical delights from the north, peppery spices form the south. During the workshop, you will learn how to incorporate bush foods into simple, tasty and nutritious meals, desserts and snacks. The group will make a bush food inspired lunch and afternoon tea – all food prepared on the day will be vegetarian and vegan friendly. Presenter: Belinda Kennedy.

In September
In October
Regular classes

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