Aug 072019
 

Claire Hetzel, from 3000acres, discusses urban food production and crop diversity

I recently harvested my first crop of Oxalis tuberosa, commonly known as New Zealand yams. Washed clean, the tubers were aesthetically mesmerising, a shiny pink with dimpled skins drawn across the most unusual of shapes. Roasted beside garlic, they were out of this world!

Experimenting in my kitchen with this new found tasty, beautiful and versatile food crop made me ponder the issues that surround urban food production and crop diversity. I spoke with Dr. Chris Williams from the University of Melbourne to learn more.

Chris told me: “Across the globe there are hot spots of agro-biodiversity, places where traditional people developed diverse crops over thousands of years in landscapes as varied as the Andes, Papua New Guinea and the Middle East. Many of these crops have great potential to provide new growing opportunities for farmers and gardeners across the planet even though they are rarely seen outside their indigenous ecosystems. These crops, such as New Zealand yams, also have substantial genetic diversity which provides indigenous farmers with options for growing them in specific climatic or soil niches. It is this adaptability to the contingencies of climate, soil or altitude which is at the heart of using crop genetic diversity as a resilience strategy in the face of climate change and the genetic narrowing of mainstream crops by industrial agriculture.

Given the multicultural nature of the city in which we live, it would seem there is great opportunity to share knowledge and experiment together about the possibilities of growing diverse crop cultivars in the face of Melbourne’s changing climate. Time to try something new?

Read more 3000acres’ discussion pieces.

A new Community Grocer market is opening in Heidelberg West

Starting 7th September, there will be a Community Grocer market every Saturday, 9am-1pm at Bell Street Mall, corner of Oriel Road & Bell Street, Heidelberg West. The manager will be newsletter reader Tess Gardiner. Everyone is welcome.

Like The Community Grocer’s other weekly markets in Carlton (Fridays), Fawkner (Wednesdays) and Fitzroy (Tuesdays), a major aim will be to improve access for people living on a low-income to fresh, affordable food.

Community gardening news

North Carlton Railway Neighbourhood House has just been given some grants from both City of Yarra and Bendigo Bank to establish a community garden, with the aim being to have the garden constructed by the end of 2019.

Community gardening in the news

Robin Gale-Baker’s latest article in the Leader is a summary of the community gardens in Nillumbik. Oddly, whilst it was in the Heidelberg Leader, it didn’t make it into the Diamond Valley Leader. You can read more detail about all the community gardens in Nillumbik on our website – they are listed as red widgets in the right hand sidebar and clicking any of the widgets opens a page about that garden.

Local food producers in the news

AVS Organic Foods, from Watsonia North, make a variety of vegan products including non-dairy cheese and cream, sauces, pies, black salt and pet treats. Its owner, Melissa Murphy-Webster, has been interviewed by Melbourne’s North Food Group.

The 2019 Australian Food Awards

A number of our local food producers have won medals in the 2019 Australian Food Awards, including:

  • Backyard Honey, from Surrey Hills: silver
  • Billy van Creamy, from Fitzroy North: 2 bronze.
  • City Larder, from Heidelberg Heights: 4 bronze.
  • J.B. Shackleton’s, from Wonga Park: 1 silver, 1 bronze.
  • Kookaberry Strawberry Farm, from Wandin: 2 bronze
  • La Villa Salumi, from Kilsyth: 1 silver, 2 bronze.
  • PoppySmack, from Warrandyte: 3 bronze.
  • Si Mangia, from Reservoir: 1 gold, 1 bronze.
  • That’s Amore Cheese, from Thomastown: 3 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze.
  • Unforgettable Products: 2 bronze.
  • Yarra Valley Dairy, from Yering: 2 silver, 1 bronze.
  • More detail is available on our website.

    Congratulations to everyone. Sorry if I missed anyone out.

    Another article by Angelo Eliades

    Angelo’s latest article is a product review of a product called Urbipod Garden. The Urbipod Garden is a system for growing herbs indoors. LED lighting is used to simulate sunlight and, for those concerned about power consumption, my research suggests that the lights use 18 watts.

    How to cut cheese

    The flavour of a piece of cheese varies throughout – the flavour is often more intense near the rind, and the texture there will be different from that at the centre. In order to get a taste of everything in each piece, different cheese shapes require different cutting techniques. Read how to cut each shape of cheese. Thanks to Yarra Valley Dairy for the heads up!

    Not food but interesting

    If you live in Banyule, you are eligible for one ‘buy 1 get 1 free indigenous plant‘ voucher a year. With this voucher, you can get up to 10 plants free from either La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary Nursery or Victorian Indigenous Nurseries Coop (VINC). Apply.

    Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

    Judy’s visit to the garden of Dianne and Chris Newman.

    Joke of the week

    Why did the grapefruit go out with a prune? Because she couldn’t find a date.

    Read more jokes.

    New events – not cooking

    KABUU working bee: Saturday, 10th August, 9am-1pm; Research.

    What: KABUU grow seedlings and microgreens. Richard Lee will give a tour of the farm and tell the story behind KABUU. Depending on the number of people attending, activities may include: moving soil to make new beds; constructing compost bays; making a poly tunnel; making a greenhouse; putting up a wind break; and an introduction to seeding and planting.
    Cost: free.
    Bookings: TryBooking.

    Marketing your produce – farmer incubator panel & discussion: Saturday, 10th August, 9.45am-2pm; Fitzroy North.

    What: Farmer Incubator is making 5 tickets available to the general public to join the 2019 Pop Up Garlic Farmers rel=”noopener noreferrer”> as they talk with industry practitioners who come to share their experience in buying and selling food. Through conversations and your questions with buyers and facilitators who work in the industry, explore the many ways to sell your produce. If you are a farmer or interested in starting your own food business but don’t know where to start with getting your produce to market, this workshop is for you. The panelists will include: Howard Stamp, Head Chef from the Lincoln Hotel in Carlton; Helen and Chris, direct sale farmers from Timbarra Farm in Don Valley; Annabelle Tunley, representing Melbourne Farmers Market; and Steve Skopillanos, from organic retail store Ladybird Organics.
    Cost: $90.
    Bookings: TryBooking.

    Tree planting day for the Warr Park Food Forest: Saturday, 10th August, 10am-midday; Brunswick Neighbourhood House.

    What: Get involved in the Warr Park Food Forest and learn some food growing skills along the way. Facilitated by Diana Cotter. Diana will direct and teach you everything you need to know. Please take gardening gloves and appropriate clothes.
    Cost: free.
    Bookings: by email (bnhfforest.events@gmail.com).

    Beekeeper buzz: Saturday, 17th August, 11am-2pm; Bunnings, Ringwood.

    What: Connect with the Backyard Honey beekeeper. Watch a live honeybee colony at work. Taste raw cold-pressed honeys. Find out more about the lives of honey bees. Did you know that the average bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime?
    Cost: free.
    Bookings: just turn up.

    Healthy eating and nutrition: Tuesday, 27th August, midday-1pm; Doncaster East.

    What: Learn about nutrition and how you can get the most out of every day, plus receive free Maggie Beer Foundation recipes. Facilitated by Bolton Clarke and sponsored by Hearing Australia, who will provide free hearing checks after the session.
    Cost: free.
    Bookings: their website.

    Intermediate fluid art workshop – cheeseboard and coasters: Saturday, 7th September, 9.30-11.30am; Yarra Glen.

    What: You will leave with a cheeseboard and four coasters of your own to take home. You will learn new techniques and be able to build on your existing acrylic pouring skills. Everything will be supplied and zero artistic experience is necessary.
    Cost: $80.
    Bookings: by phone (9730 2887).

    KABUU working bee: Saturday, 7th September, 1-5pm; Research.

    What: KABUU grow seedlings and microgreens. Richard Lee will give a tour of the farm and tell the story behind KABUU. Depending on the number of people attending, activities may include: moving soil to make new beds; constructing compost bays; making a poly tunnel; making a greenhouse; putting up a wind break; and an introduction to seeding and planting.
    Cost: free.
    Bookings: TryBooking.

    Getting a harvest – Summer vegetables: Sunday, 22nd September, at 9-11am and again at 11.30am-1.30pm; Hawthorn Community House.

    What: Learn all you need to know to grow fresh produce at home in Summer. What you will learn: planning your Summer veggie garden – what to plant and when; soil maintenance in the Summer months; smart watering and managing hot weather; feeding and maintaining the patch for a great harvest; mulching; introducing sustainable ways to improve productivity – crop rotation and companion planting; starting with seeds and seedlings; tips for sustainably avoiding and managing pests and diseases; and harvesting.
    Cost: free.
    Bookings: EventBrite (9am, 11.30am).

    Growing great tomatoes: Saturday, 5th October, 10am-3pm; CERES, Brunswick East.

    What: What you will learn: choosing varieties; garden set-up; and common problems. Presenter: Carol Henderson. Topics to be covered include: how to choose which tomato varieties to grow; whether to grow from seed or seedling, in pots, raised beds or directly into soil; when and how to plant and tips for success; training growth with stakes, cages or string vs free range; pros and cons of pruning and how to do it; preventing common problems; feeding; and crop rotation.
    Cost: $100.
    Bookings: WeTeachMe.

    New events – cooking

    Miso cooking: 3 occurrences – Friday 16th August, Saturday 17th August and Sunday 18th August, each 11am-1.30pm; Preston.

    What: Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji (the fungus Aspergillus oryzae). This is a class for people who have no idea what to do with miso. You will make several miso dishes together as well as learning the benefits of having miso daily.
    Cost: $95.
    Bookings: by email (hello.cookingwithkoji@gmail.com).

    Miso cooking: 2 occurrences – Saturday 7th September and Sunday 8th September, each 11am-1.30pm; Preston.

    What: Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji (the fungus Aspergillus oryzae). This is a class for people who have no idea what to do with miso. You will make several miso dishes together as well as learning the benefits of having miso daily.
    Cost: $95.
    Bookings: by email (hello.cookingwithkoji@gmail.com).

    Cooking master class – ‘gluten free’: Thursday, 12th September and again on Friday, 13th September, both 7-9pm; Gourmet Living, Templestowe.

    What: Enjoy 3 tasting size courses cooked by chef Bek McMillan, from Gourmet Living, who will demonstrate step by step. All recipes are included. Menu: roast pumpkin, chickpea & cauliflower salad; harissa spiced chicken; and spiced pears & figs.
    Cost: $42.
    Bookings: Eventbrite (Thursday, Friday).

    Kombucha tea & fermenting workshop: Saturday, 14th September, 10.30am-midday; Central Ringwood Community Centre.

    What: Learn to make your own kombucha tea with Dayle Barnett and take home a scobie to get you started. Dayle is a chemistry major who often has many different brews fermenting in all corners of her house and enjoys experimenting with kombucha, jun, kefir and ginger beer.
    Cost: $25 (includes a scobie and starter).
    Bookings: by phone (9870 2602).

    Cooking master class – ‘can be vegetarian’: Wednesday, 18th September, 7-9pm; Gourmet Living, Templestowe.

    What: Enjoy 3 tasting size courses cooked by chef Bek McMillan, from Gourmet Living, who will demonstrate step by step. All recipes are included. Menu: chermoula spiced pumpkin salad; cheesy baked eggplant; and banana & caramel tart.
    Cost: $42.
    Bookings: EventBrite.

    Shio koji making and cooking: Sunday, 22nd September, 11am-1.30pm; Preston.

    What: Shio koji is a Japanese fermented seasoning made with rice koji (cooked rice that has been inoculated with the fungus Aspergillus oryzae).
    Cost: $95.
    Bookings: by email (hello.cookingwithkoji@gmail.com).

    All about cakes with Emelia Jackson ‘floral Spring style’: Friday, 4th October, 7-9pm; Gourmet Living, Templestowe.

    What: Based on making sour cream & strawberry cake with hibiscus Swiss meringue buttercream & lemon curd, you will learn: cake recipe and baking; how to fill and stack the cake so it is stable; how to make Swiss meringue buttercream; the watercolour technique; piping tips for rosettes; and chocolate chards and decorations. Antipasto, snacks, an entree and sparkling on arrival.
    Cost: $91.
    Bookings: EventBrite.

    Farewell Victoria – vegan cooking class party: Sunday, 6th October, midday-4pm; Smiths Gully.

    What: This is the final cooking class at The Beet Retreat because Jan is moving to Noosa. They will be making a handful of my favourite recipes and then kicking back and enjoying a few hours together, talking, laughing, swapping stories and recipes, sharing food and wine, cuddling animals and each other! Please bring musical instruments if you play. Jan will be teaching some of her house favourites, including: butterscotch cheesecake with choc peanut base; wonderland pancakes with roasted walnut and caramel ice cream; and walnut and black bean meatball spaghetti.
    Cost: $100 (includes sit down 3-course meal).
    Bookings: their website.

    Cake decorating (6 sessions): 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starting 8th October, 7-9.30pm; Mitcham.

    What: Learn how to cover a round or square cake in ganache and fondant, including tips and tricks.
    Cost: $130 + ingredients for all six sessions.
    Bookings: their website.

    Herbal teas: Thursday, 10th October, 6.30-9pm; Bulleen Art and Garden.

    What: What you will learn: learn about herbal teas; understand how to grow your own tea; and learn about using native plants for herbal teas. Presented by Karen Sutherland, of Edible Eden Design. Herbs have been used for centuries for health benefits and one of the most common ways of taking them was through teas. Karen will guide you through their cultivation requirements and how to use them in herbal teas. Sip your way through some teas during the class to discover some new favourites, including some Australian native herbs.
    Cost: $50.
    Bookings: WeTeachMe.

    Summary of upcoming events – not cooking

    Over the next week
    Over the next month

    Summary of upcoming events – cooking

    Over the next week
    Over the next month

    View the complete calendar of upcoming events.