Sep 212022

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Ann Stanley, Jaimie Sweetman and Kate Hill.

Mitcham Community Meal – the power of love (by Ann Stanley)

[Mitcham Community Meal provides a free community dinner every Sunday where “each Sunday night, a different local club, business, or church group provides and serves the meal to people in the Mitcham community.” In August 2022, Ann Stanley went for a meal and to interview its organiser, Ben Frawley. Here is a summary of her article from the visit. Read the full article.]

Ann introduces the article by saying: “One of the reasons all this [Mitcham Community Meal] started is that Ben and his wife Jane noticed a few homeless people regularly hanging out in the local mall. Their dilemma was whether to give them money and hope that it didn’t go towards cigarettes and alcohol, or to turn a blind eye, do nothing, and just keep walking. Neither option seemed morally right. The solution was to offer them a hot meal and a place to sit inside for warmth and a chat. As a result, Ben and Jane started Mitcham Community Meal.

She then goes on to relate a few stories of people that Ben has met in Mitcham. In one of these stories, Ben visited a homeless person who had been bashed up, gave him a hot meal, chatted for a while, gave him a hug and left. A few weeks later, Ben saw him again and asked whether there was anything else he could do. “Can I have another hug?” was the reply.

50-60 people now come to the Mitcham Community Meal every Sunday, some from as far away as Footscray, “for the company, as much as the meal,” says Ben. He continues to be overwhelmed by the number of people and local organisations offering to cook. “I could have filled the roster for all of 2022 by March. There have been over 800 volunteers in four years. I’m blown away by the community response.” Ping, who is one of seven co-ordinators, believes that one of the reasons the model works so well is that there is a constant stream of different groups volunteering, which helps to prevents ‘volunteer fatigue’.

On the evening that Ann visited, the family of 11 responsible for cooking the main course main course were doing so in honour of their late mother, wife and grandmother. In addition, there was four other groups of volunteers, one serving soup, one offering a free laundry service, one giving out blankets, and one giving out reading glasses and hand-knitted scarves.

Here is how Ann concludes her article: “So why has Mitcham Community Meal been so successful? It’s because many people find it satisfying to cook food for other people and many find comfort eating in the company of others. It’s also because people like [the various volunteers from the evening] all want to connect with people and to help others connect with each other.

And Ben has the final word: “Jane and I agree that we often get more out of the evenings than we put in. Our cooking teams always leave on a high that no chemical drug could ever give.

Read Ann’s full article.

Chinese toon/mahogany (Toona sinensis) by Jaimie Sweetman

[Jaimie Sweetman is Head Gardener of the Edible Forest located on the Yarra Valley Estate in Dixons Creek. Tours of the Edible Forest, often led by Jaimie, take place on Fridays and Saturdays – read more and book your place on a future tour.]

The ‘Toon’ is a striking edible tree known for its bright red spring foliage (which in Asia symbolises the end of winter and the start of spring). Getting up to 4-5 metres high and suckering (not weedy but does slowly spread), it makes a great back layer in a border. We have ours along the back fence and, as they are tall and skinny, they look architectural whilst not taking up lots of space.

It is widely eaten as a vegetable in China. The new shoots in Spring, when young and tender, have a crunchy texture and taste like spring onions. The leaves can be used fresh or added into any dish that would usually use spring onions, and the best part is as they are not part of the allium family so those with allergies or on the FODMAP diet can eat them.

The nursery at the Edible Forest currently has some ‘Toons’ for sale.

Read Jamie’s previous articles about unusual edible plants.

Another video from Simone Boyd

How to sow your heirloom seeds.

Every newsletter needs a good picture

Whilst the egg on the left of the picture is a normal egg, the egg on the right is a quadruple(!) yolker. It was ‘discovered’ by someone at CERES when they were frying some eggs from Gippsland Free Range Eggs.

Quadruple yolkers are more common than hen’s teeth, but only just.

Newsletter reader website of the week – Karen Sutherland

Karen is a garden designer, writer and speaker. She writes monthly articles for ABC Organic Gardener which are available on this page on their website. Her latest (August 2022) article is on the subject of perennial herbs that are strong on colour and flavour, including cowslip, English violet, French tarragon and hyssop.

Karen also has her own website, called Edible Eden Design.

Do you have, or are connected to, a website that might be of interest to some of our readership? If so, send me an email and I will include you in a future newsletter.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was the Citrus Watch Early Detector Network.

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

The past, present, and future walk into a bar. It was tense.

Read more jokes.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ markets
Food swaps
Community gardens

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

Tomato growing workshop; Saturday, 24th September, 10am-12.30pm; $25 ($10 per hour); Coburg North.

Karen Sutherland will share her tips on how to grow tomatoes, followed by a seed sowing activity, which will also be suitable for children. At the end, you will take home a punnet of freshly sown heirloom tomato seeds. Organised by NECCHi.

Food forest gardening – Spring; Saturday, 1st October, 10am-midday; free; Edendale.

Learn tips, tricks and the why, when and how of food forest and urban orchard gardening. Find out what’s involved, do some planning and get some handy resources to help with growing some of your food in an efficient way that mimics nature. Suitable for anyone interested in growing food.

Introduction into wines; Saturday, 1st October, 3-5pm; $32 ($16 per hour); Northcote.

Broc will take you through the basics of wine, from how to taste to the processes behind your favourite drop. The session will include 8 very different wines to demonstrate the differences in grapes and wine making techniques.

Gardening with kids; Sunday, 2nd October, 11am-12.30pm; free; Macleod.

Children will be able to sow veggie seeds and plant seedlings – and take home their plants. They can also learn about composting and get hands-on with worms! For kids who enjoy getting arty fun, there will be a junior art area with Jodi Wiley. At Macleod community garden.

Gardening tips for adults; Sunday, 2nd October, 1-2.30pm; free; Macleod.

Be treated to expert advice on raising seedlings and Spring planting, together with the nitty-gritty of producing garden-enhancing compost. At Macleod community garden.

Chocolate and wine masterclass; Saturday, 8th October, 3-5pm; $59 ($30 per hour); Northcote.

Broc Willems will discuss what makes chocolate and wine taste so good together. Tickets include a selection of sweet and savoury chocolate canapes, specially created for the chosen wines.

Gardening with kids; Sunday, 16th October, 11am-12.30pm; free; Macleod.

Children will be able to sow veggie seeds and plant seedlings – and take home their plants. They can also learn about composting and get hands-on with worms! For kids who enjoy getting arty fun, there will be a junior art area with Jodi Wiley. At Macleod community garden.

Gardening tips for adults; Sunday, 16th October, 1-2.30pm; free; Macleod.

Be treated to expert advice on raising seedlings and Spring planting, together with the nitty-gritty of producing garden-enhancing compost. At Macleod community garden.

Wine appreciation (2 sessions); Mondays, 17th and 24th October, both 7-9pm; $84 ($21 per hour); Brunswick.

See, swirl, sniff, sip, savour. Learn how to recognise the basic structure of wine and how to describe it. Organised by Brunswick Neighbourhood House.

Edible weed walk with Adam Grubb; Saturday, 22nd October, 2-3.30pm; free; Brunswick.

Adam Grubb will teach you how to identify edible and medicinal weeds along the Merri Creek. This talk is presented in association with a current, local exhibition entitled A plant in the wrong place.

Watch it grow at Edendale; Tuesday, 25th October, 4.15-5.15pm; free; Edendale.

What your child will learn: what seeds need to grow; creating healthy soil via worm farms and compost; and the environmental benefits of growing your own food. Your child will also see why worms are such amazing creatures when it comes to recycling food waste and creating quality soil. Visits to their veggie gardens, worm farms and compost areas will be part of the activity. Children will also get to plant a seed in a biodegradable pot that they can take home with them.

Community Gardens Australia National Gathering – day 1 (Conference); Saturday, 5th November, 8.30am-4pm; $75; CERES.

Presentations from Pamela Warhurst (Incredible Edible) and Naomi Lacey (Community Gardens Australia). Discussion panels. A tour of the CERES’ gardens and their bicycle workshop. Lunch.

Community Gardens Australia National Gathering – day 2 (Tours); Sunday, 6th November, 10am-4pm; $75; various in Moreland and Darebin.

The itinerary for the day will be: 1. Ecological Justice Hub – 4-6 Michael Street, Brunswick; 2. West Brunswick Community Garden – 49 Everett Street, Brunswick West; 3. Oakhill Food Justice Farm – 233 Tyler Street, Preston – lunch will be served here; 4. SEEDS Communal Garden – 331 Albert Street, Brunswick; and 5. Fawkner Food Bowls – Corner Creedon &, Lorne Street, Fawkner. The tickets include transport by a chartered bus and a fully catered lunch.

Caring for backyard chooks; Sunday, 6th November, 2-4pm; $25 ($13 per hour); Edendale.

Learn the basics of backyard chicken keeping, including the characteristics of different breeds (in order to make a selection that suits your setting and needs), housing and care needs of chickens. This workshop will suit those who are keen to learn the basics. Participants will leave with the knowledge and confidence to begin keeping chickens and producing their own free-range eggs. Presenter: Raewyn Pickering.

In September
In October
In November
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Ethiopian cooking; Saturday, 1st October, 11am-1pm; $30 ($15 per hour); Brunswick.

Learn how to cook and serve a traditional Ethiopian meal. Then share a meal with your fellow participants. Organised by Brunswick Neighbourhood House.

Pizza masterclass with Antonio; Monday, 3rd October, 6-8.30pm; $54 ($22 per hour); Eltham.

You will learn: how to make dough by hand; stretching techniques; how to use a pizza paddle; and pizza classico (classic style pizza in the oven) and pizze fritte (fried pizza). You will make both savoury and sweet pizzas, and you will get to cook and eat the pizzas. Organised by Platform 3095.

Doburoku workshop; Friday, 14th October, 6.30-10pm; $125 ($63 per hour); Fitzroy North.

Did you know you can make a simple, wild sake at home? They will teach you the Bodaimoto method – an ancient method relying on wild yeasts and a little nurturing. Take home your brew ready to ferment. Includes recipe, koji, rice and rice ball in jar.

Miso making evening; Wednesday, 19th October, 6.30-8.30pm; $145 ($73 per hour); Fitzroy North.

You will learn how to make miso, shio koji and shoyu koji. Squish and mix for yourself a large jar of miso to take home and ferment for as long as you like. Start the evening with a warm bowl of miso and some nibbles.

Middle Eastern cooking; Sunday, 6th November, 10.30am-1.30pm; $80 ($27 per hour); Park Orchards.

Learn about the flavours of Middle Eastern cooking. Try out recipes and cooking methods while preparing a three course menu. Stay and share your freshly prepared dinner with the group. Organised by Park Orchards Community House.

In September
In October
In November
Regular classes

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