Nina’s vignettes


Nina Gormley, from St Andrews, writes occasional short articles for this website. We call them ‘vignettes’, which means “small, graceful literary sketches”.

North East Region Permaculture (NERP) (October 2019)

If you are interested in learning more about permaculture, or have experience in permaculture practices which you could share, then you could consider joining North East Region Permaculture (NERP). During the last six months, a bunch of local permie’s have revived NERP, which had folded a few years ago after an existence spanning around 20 years. There are currently around 50 members in the ‘new’ NERP and their stated areas covered are “Greensborough, Eltham, Warrandyte, Hurstbridge, St Andrews and surrounds“.

The NERP members regularly meet in member’s gardens so that they can learn about what aspects of permaculture each member incorporates into their garden, including growing zones, keeping animals (chooks, goats, worms), energy efficiency and home design.

Membership to NERP is free but they would like you to also join Permaculture Victoria. If you are interested in joining NERP, contact them by email.

The ‘pop-up garlic farmer’ program (August 2019)

Tess Gardiner, member of Local Food Connect and the Warrandyte Food Swap, is participating in the 2019 Pop-Up Garlic Farmer program run by Farmer Incubator. This program aims to connect those who want access to land to start their farming journey with the farming community. Participants take a crop of garlic from planting 500 cloves right through to harvest. Eight workshops are held throughout winter covering topics such as cultivation, pests and diseases, marketing and harvesting decisions. Throughout the course, participants also engage with representatives from Melbourne Farmers Markets, retailers chefs, CERES and restaurateurs to gain an understanding of the opportunities available once the garlic is harvested. The decision about what to do with the crop of garlic once harvested is left to the participants.

Tess first started seeing information about the program through Facebook and was a little sceptical at first but became convinced when she happened to hear someone from Farmer Incubator talk about the program. Tess likes how the program helps to put her in contact with other people who are interested in farming. She finds the workshops to be beneficial and enjoys the satisfaction that she gets after she has finished planting or weeding in the company of new friends.

Goat milk skin care and household cleaning products (July 2019)

Are you looking for a healthy soap which is not full of chemicals and artificial colours or want to kick your garden along? Either way, Udderly Healthy Soaps has the answer.

Udderly Healthy Soaps make goat milk skin care and household cleaning products. The soaps and products are good for anyone but are particularly good if you suffer from allergies, eczema or dry and sensitive skin. To see their range of products, and to order online, go to their website. The soaps are produced by the founder, Orianna Edmonds, who manages a large herd of goats at her family farm in St Andrews. Working with her mum (who is very sensitive to chemicals and most soaps), Orianna experimented with different kinds of recipes for a year until she had a range of soaps that she was happy with. She now has a thriving online business – and a large happy herd of goats!

There is also have a very useful byproduct – large quantities of goat manure. We cover our garden in their goat manure twice a year.

You can contact Orianna by either phone (0478 709881) or email.

What happens to all the fruit that isn’t ‘good enough’ to sell? (July 2019)

Following on from my discussions with Hans & Maria Hoffman from Just Picked about how they deter fruit bats from their orchard, I asked them about what happens with all the fruit that isn’t ‘good enough’ to sell. The answer is that they donate it to SecondBite and to The Wildlife Rescuers. Donations are weekly and each one is 60-100Kg. Just Picked has been making the donations for around 3 years, which totals a substantial contribution.

SecondBite works with suppliers across Australia to rescue surplus fresh food. The produce is then re-distributed to volunteer-run food programs across Australia which help to support needy people within the local community. SecondBite supports around 1,000 food programs Australia-wide and all food is supplied free of charge. Its headquarters are in Heidelberg West.

The Wildlife Rescuers is a group of volunteers based at La Trobe University specialising in the rescue and rehabilitation of native Australian wildlife in Melbourne. They rescue injured, sick and orphaned wildlife and then release the healthy animals back into the wild. They also seek to educate the public through presentations, the media and information & training sessions. They are associated with the Joey and Bat Sanctuary Melbourne, who are based on Heidelberg Heights.

Have you got trouble with fruit bats eating the fruit off your trees? (June 2019)

Hans & Maria Hoffman, from Just Picked, a fruit orchard in Yan Yean, have found a solution to deter fruit bats without harming them. A few years ago, Hans realised that there were fruit bats feasting on the ripe fruit at the farm during the night. They were damaging around a third of the fruit just as it was ready to be picked, causing a great deal of frustration and loss of productivity. Hans was already successfully using an ultrasonic bird scarer to deter the birds from eating his fruit during the day and, as an experiment, he set up the bird scarer device for all 24 hours. It worked wonders and the amount of fruit being damaged by the fruit bats is now down to a tenth.

Ultrasonic bird scarers are electronic devices which produce high pitch emissions known as ultrasound. Ultrasound is too high-pitched for most people to hear but it does fall within the hearing range of most birds. The purpose of the device is to deter the birds using noises which they find unpleasant and irritating. The scarers only consume around 10 watts of electricity and are usually maintenance free. But be warned, some women and young children can sometimes hear the noises, and this can cause headaches, so check with your neighbours first! If you want to learn more about how to deal with fruit bats, you can talk to Hans at the Just Picked stall at the Eltham Farmers Market or you can read this article.

A new cheese shop in St Andrews (May 2019)

Fantastic news for cheese lovers – St Andrews now has a cheese room! It is located in a cluster of mud-brick huts just next to the Wine Room behind A Boy Named Sue and A Local Baker St Andrews. The cheese room is run by Hajo Tanck and his wife Petra. It is open every Saturday and enjoys particularly good trading on a Saturday morning when the St Andrews Market is on.

They stock a wide range of artisan cheeses, preserves, meat and ice-cream. Some of the goats and blue cheeses are actually made by Hajo himself! Before you make your purchasing decisions, Hajo lets you try anything which might take your fancy – you shouldn’t be time poor when visiting because it takes some time to chat and try the various cheeses. If you have a function, you can order a cheese platter. They are also thinking of organising some cheese making workshops (send them an email to register your interest).

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