Nov 302013
 

Join a vibrant food culture, growing and eating local

Covering all matters food in North East Melbourne

Whether you are a local food producer, want to eat local food, grow veggies in your garden or want to meet like-minded folks, Local Food Connect is for you.

Eltham Farmers’ Market, a Local Food Connect initiative, is held every Sunday.

Nov 152017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

With the recent burst of hot weather, it’s all about keeping water levels up on your veggie patch. If you have an irrigation system in place, it’s time to switch it on. If not, you need to be on the end of a hose most mornings if temperatures are forecast to be above, say, 25. Sure you can water in the evenings after work, which is a nice way to unwind, but humidity overnight can sometimes encourage fungal problems. Water thoroughly, rather than a light mist. Wilting at the end of a hot day is normal – it’s what your plants look like in the evening and morning that counts. Regular moisture levels is the key; to check, a finger in the soil is better than a stick.

Editor’s note: check out the following article that Mac wrote for the SGA website a few years ago: a busy person’s guide to watering systems for vegetable gardening. Also, check out the following article that Robin Gale-Baker, from Sustainable Macleod, contributed to our website: the art of watering.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

Incredible Edible Eltham news

The edible food garden on the railway station platform is now officially open! The opening event featured a veritable panoply of speakers:

  • Vicki Ward, local MP.
  • Peter Clarke, local Councillor and Mayor.
  • Sean Spencer, CEO, healthAbility.
  • Chris Chapple, President, Local Food Connect.
  • Felicity Gordon, project artist.
  • Paul Gale-Baker, lead builder.
  • Paul Morland, lead builder.

The first produce (a radish) has been harvested! It was given to Vicki Ward in appreciation of her support!

Last week, I was interviewed on Plenty Valley FM. If you want to listen to the interview, go to the Incredible Edible Eltham page on our website and click the play symbol on the second line. Incidentally, the person who interviewed me, Bill McGillivray, is also (I think) President of Nillumbik Garden Club.

After an Eventbrite event finishes, they send the organiser an ‘official sales recap’. Ours said: “Your top cities for ticket buyers are Adelaide, Melbourne and Heidelberg. Focus your future marketing efforts in these top cities.” As Meat Loaf could have said: one out of three ain’t bad.

Park Orchards Market is now 8 years old

Park Orchards Market will be celebrating its eighth birthday on Saturday, 18th November. The festivities will include a cake ceremony, children’s entertainment, lolly bags and balloons.

Other local food news

Backyard Honey, from Surrey Hills, will be at the Crafty Christmas Market in Collingwood on Sunday, 26th November. They will be selling their raw, unheated Melbourne multi-floral honey and Victorian varietal honey plus their 500g bees wax blocks. You can also order the bees wax blocks by email.

Organic Times, from Eltham, will be at the Sweet Expo in Ascot Vale on the weekend of the 18th and 19th November.

Paleta Artisan Popsicles, from Diamond Creek, will be at a big Christmas Day in Springvale on Sunday, 19th November.

PoppySmack, from Warrandyte, will be at the SpringFeast Food & Market Festival on Sunday, 26th November.

That’s Amore Cheese, from Thomastown, will be at the Night Market at Queen Victoria Market for the next five months.

Sugarloaf Produce, from Strathewen, will no longer be a stallholder at St Andrews Market: “The St Andrews Market Association decided we would be too much of a threat to the existing fruit and veg sellers at the market if we were allowed to sell everything we grow. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t profitable enough for us with the restricted range. We are pretty gutted as Wal’s dad sold at the market for many years and we were keen to keep the tradition going.

FoodChecker

FoodChecker is a new online way to assess foods and drinks against Victorian food and drink guidelines. You can assess your existing menu, products and recipes, or use FoodChecker to plan future menus and find GREEN and AMBER products. Thanks for the heads up, healthAbility.

Which link was clicked most times in last week’s newsletter?

Produce with a Purpose’s Spring garden party.

Joke of the week

Did you hear the joke about the butter? I can’t tell you, you might spread it.

Read all the jokes.

New events

Design a potager garden (two sessions)

What: Learn general design principles suitable for making a community garden. In this workshop, Elspeth Brock will take a look at potager gardens: garden spaces that are both useful and aesthetically pleasing. She will also touch on permaculture kitchen garden designs and food forests. All three garden designs are suitable for both community gardens or for trying out at home.
When: Saturdays, 18th & 25th November, both 10am-12:30pm.
Where: Brunswick Neighbourhood House.
Cost: $35 ($30 concession).
Bookings: Brunswick Neighbourhood House by phone (9386 9418) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Cooking master class

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: prawn pasta salad; tangy tamarind salmon; and berry & passionfruit Eton mess.
When: Friday, 24th November, 7-9pm.
Where: Gourmet Living, Templestowe.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Gardening for biodiversity and tour of LaTrobe Wildlife Sanctuary

What: Learn how to create an indigenous garden at your place. Then take a guided tour of the LaTrobe Wildlife Sanctuary.
When: Saturday, 25th November, 10am-1pm.
Where: La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Local Fine Foods celebrates one year

What: The activities will include: tastings by Maya ‘Xala Honey and Under The Pickle Tree; Karen and Ross, from My Kitchen Rules, cooking up a storm; sausage sizzle; and, for the kids, face painting, balloons and a big bubble station. All proceeds will be donated to the family of a 6-year-old girl just diagnosed with cancer.
When: Saturday, 25th November, 11am-1pm.
Where: Diamond Creek.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Cooking master class

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: Moroccan couscous salad; honey citrus chicken; and banana puff pastry tart.
When: Thursday, 30th November, 7-9pm.
Where: Gourmet Living, Templestowe.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Plan, buy, cook – how to avoid food waste this Christmas

What: Avoid festive season stress with good mean planning. Learn how to shop with minimal waste, cater for Christmas parties, store leftovers, and serve Christmas meals whilst minimising food waste. Get some great tips about safe food handling and edible gifts. Gaby and Jen from Plan Buy Cook will show you how. Bookings essential.
When: Wednesday, 6th December, 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: Epping.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Sylvia Turk by phone (9401 0509).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Nov 082017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

Now that most of us have our spring / summers crops planted, and with the arrival of warmer weather on the horizon, get mulching if you haven’t already. For veggies, mulches such as pea straw, lucerne or milled sugar cane provide insulation to retain soil moisture and minimise weed germination. Although not long lasting, they will last your crop cycle and provide beneficial organic matter to your soil as they break down. The remnants after harvest can mostly be dug through your soil before your planting starts again in autumn. Keep clear of the stems of your plants and spread 5-8cm deep. For those with ‘food miles’ on their minds, note that pea straw and lucerne will generally come from Victoria or NSW whilst sugar cane is transported from Queensland.

This tip complements a previous tip on mulching: “Lock in that moisture in the soil by applying a good layer of mulch. 5cm min to 10cm max. Larger mulch particles (10mm plus) insulate the soil and still allow summer rain to get to the soil, whereas finer particles may lock in your moisture but block rainfall. When mulching, take care to clear mulch from stems/base of plants to prevent collar rot.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

Fruit thinning

In the 11th October newsletter, Mac’s tip of the week was on the subject of fruit thinning. Yvonne Ashby writes in: “I followed Mac’s tip to thin out half of my heavy laden nectarine tree a few weeks ago, but half of the remaining nectarines have subsequently dropped onto the ground so the net result is that only a quarter of the original fruit remain to grow into bigger size. I am definitely getting much better quality nectarines than I expected. I will not be thinning them out next year but let the nature do the work.

Here’s Mac’s response: “I think that nature has done its work this year as well and that Yvonne’s fruit drop was not caused by her thinning but would have happened anyway. Indeed, by thinning a couple of weeks earlier, she may have actually helped the tree to retain the ‘quarter’ of the fruit that remains. Fruit dropping is a natural thing for a tree to do if there are not enough ‘food reserves’ for all the fruit to develop and set seed. The practice of thinning allows the grower to interfere and decide which branches are the strongest to support fruit, space the fruit for ventilation, and allow all stored ‘food reserves’ to be directed to the remaining fruit. Sure, you don’t have to thin fruit, but it is good practice on younger trees and helps to improve fruit quality on more established trees. Applications of potash can also help the quality of the fruit. Fingers crossed for your remaining nectarines, Yvonne.“.

Coincidently, this month’ newsletter from Leaf, Root & Fruit included a discussion on fruit thinning: “For fruit that is already set on your trees, thinning of fruit is an important task. This ensures good size and quality of remaining fruit. You should gradually thin the fruit until you have one every 10cm along the branch. Thinning should be completed over the next month. Many fruit trees can go into a biennial fruiting pattern. This is where they have a massive crop one year, followed by a very small crop the next year. Thinning of fruit can help to avoid the tree getting into a biennial cropping pattern.“.

Several of the recent weekly newsletters from Mt Alexander Fruit Gardens have also discussed the subject: “Fruit thinning is the practice of pulling some of the fruit off the tree by hand, while the fruit is still tiny. It can be really hard to make yourself do it (and to take enough off) but it’s very much worth it.” “One of the least understood reasons for doing this job is to try to break the cycle of biennial bearing that many fruit trees naturally adopt. The good news is that, if you do this job early enough you are sacrificing very little actual fruit production as the tree will put the same amount of energy into the fruit you leave on the tree as it would have to the big bunches of fruit.

Also, “The second main reason to do thinning is to protect the structure of our trees. Most fruit is carried on the small side shoots, or laterals, that grow from the main branches. Left to its own devices, the tree will frequently set so much fruit on a branch or lateral that the weight of the fruit breaks the branch. Usually a short lateral can only bear the weight of one piece of fruit, and a longer or stronger lateral can bear two or more pieces.

Growing good tomatoes

Here’s a tip from the My Green Garden Facebook page: as your seedlings get bigger, you need to decide whether to prune out the laterals or leave them to grow. The answer to the question will determine how many tomatoes you end up with (don’t prune = more); the size of the tomatoes (do prune = larger); and whether or not you are prepared to use several stakes for each plant (don’t prune = more supports needed). Also, The laterals pruned out can be rooted in water to create another plant if you need one.

The Diamond Village Food Swap at Watsonia is now monthly

Following a successful first event in October, The Diamond Village food swap will now take place every month, on the 2nd Saturday, 10-11am, at the Diamond Village Shopping Centre (beside the Cruze Lounge cafe). If you want more information, contact Ken by phone (0434 906773) or email.

That means there are now 31(!) monthly food swaps in North East Melbourne. See where and when they all are.

Do your chickens eat Certified Organic food?

Aziza De Fazio is looking at ordering some bulk, Certified Organic coarse layer chook food from Country Heritage. She is not yet 100% sure of the price, but a 20kg bag would be around $35. She is also interested in buying some Certified Organic feed wheat from Four Leaf Milling (around $25 for a 20Kg bag). If you are interest in joining with her, email Aziza.

Want to sell your produce in Thomastown?

Thomastown Neighbourhood House run a monthly market, with around 600 people visiting each market. They currently don’t have any fruit, vegetable, bread or produce stalls and are seeking some. The market is held indoors, but there is opportunity to have a couple of stalls out the front of the library. They charge $15 per stall and provide a trestle and 2 chairs. Their last market for 2017 is on 2nd December, and they then recommence in March. If you are potentially interested in being a stallholder, contact Justine Sless by phone (8376 6939) or email.

The Food Justice Truck is no more

Until recently, The Food Justice Truck visited Northcote weekly and Thomastown fortnightly. Now it appears to have stopped. According to their website: “the truck’s project team has been working to implement changes to the operation of the truck that would help reduce costs while striving to increase impact. Strong progress has been made, however this work highlighted the current model is not sufficiently scalable to meet the geographic need for people seeking asylum across Melbourne to access affordable, fresh food. The decision has been made to cease operation of the Food Justice Truck in its current capacity and to explore alternative models to meet these food security challenges, focussing on reach and accessibility for those most in need.

Local food news

Peter Castaldo’s Local Honey, from Rosanna: “Honey is in early this year and looks like we might have a good season. Fresh runny honey or thick crystallised honey from last year, all from Rosanna. $15/kg bring your own containers or $1 if you need a recycled one. Call 0426 266824.

Spice Fusion, from Ringwood, Unforgettable Products, from Warrandyte, and Yarra Valley Gourmet Foods, from Mt Evelyn, are all stallholders at the Eastland Moonlit Markets which are happening every Thursday evening until 21st December.

Every newsletter deserves a good picture

Photographer Loes Heerink takes aerial shots of street vendors in Vietnam.

Which link was clicked most times in last week’s newsletter?

Marina’s interview with Robin and Paul Gale-Baker.

Corrections and clarifications

In last week’s newsletter, I talked about Tiny Trowel’s initiative to encourage gardeners with excess seeds to donate them to designated not-for profit organisations. I referred to this initiative as ‘Crowd harvest – Father’s Day’ but I should have referred to it as ‘Crowd harvest – seeds for Christmas’. Sorry, Cath. Too much copy-pasting! Incidently, the crowding harvest initiative was one of 5 finalists in ‘Communication for Change’ category in the recent 2017 Banksia Foundation Sustainability Awards.

Joke of the week

My sister bet me a hundred dollars I couldn’t build a car out of spaghetti. You should have seen the look on her face when I drove pasta!

Read all the jokes.

New events

A local sustainable communities forum

What: What does a sustainable community look like? At this event they will be showing the highlights and thoughts that were shared at the 2017 Sustainable Communities National Summit in September, and following it up with discussion of what steps could be taken next in Greensborough, Watsonia and Montmorency to support sustainability measures and local food growers and businesses. You will also be able to meet members of Sustainable Greensborough – a new local volunteer group hoping to raise awareness and build a growing community of like-minded individuals that help and support each other to live sustainably, as well as other local groups.
When: Thursday, 9th November, 7-9pm.
Where: Greensborough.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Trybooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Fresh and local EVOO

What: Try some chocolate cake, lalamata biscuits and tapenade, all made with Victorian extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Learn how to identify and buy high quality olive oils, watch an olive oil making demonstration, and see how easy it is to cure table olives. The program: 10.30am – evaluating EVOOs; how to taste and what to look for; 11.30am – how to buy a high quality EVOO; understanding the importance of region, climate, harvest time and oil age; midday – olive oil making demonstration; 12.30pm – how to cure table olives; 1.30pm – how to cure table olives (repeat); 2.30pm – evaluating EVOOs; how to taste and what to look for (repeat); 3pm – olive oil making demonstration (repeat); and 3.30pm – how to buy a high quality EVOO; understanding the importance of region, climate, harvest time and oil age (repeat).
When: Saturday, 11th November, 10am-4pm.
Where: Abbotsford.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Indoor plant sale and cactus ice-cream party

What: They will have lots of indoor plants, including fiddle leafs, monstera, birds of paradise, pilea’s, mothers in law tongue, rubber figs, ferns, hanging plants and bangalow palms. They will also have cactuses and succulents. In addition, there will be a vintage ice cream van and mexican music.
If you wear a sombrero, you will get $5 off your purchase!
When: Saturday, 11th November, 10am-4pm.
Where: Abbotsford.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

The Hibi Farm and pottery studio open day

What: 11am – farm tour and produce tasting. Midday – ‘good bug’ garden walk. Ceramic wares will be on display in the pottery studio and available for purchase. The Hibi Farm is a micro suburban farm that produces bread, beer, cheese, chocolate, honey, preserves, pottery and bicycles from scratch, amid thriving fruit and vegetable gardens. It is a social experiment in sustainable living, and the hub of a spontaneous community known as ‘the hood’. Care of dairy goats has matured into an intricate, cooperative system involving over 25 people from the hood. Sharing resources, converting front and back yards to orchards and edible gardens, cycling, and keeping dairy goats, chooks and bees, are all conscious steps towards pursuing the good life. The farm is home to two families in a small two bedroom house, and hosts two artisan studios where ceramics and custom bicycle frames are crafted.
When: Saturday, 18th November, 10am-2pm.
Where: Heidelberg West.
Cost: free.
Bookings: by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Garden master class with Jane Edmanson

What: Jane will look into organic products used in the garden plus local plants for Diamond Valley. Ask Jane about your garden problems and show her your garden creations.
When: Saturday, 18th November, midday-1pm.
Where: Mitre 10, Diamond Creek.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week

Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Nov 012017
 

Marina Bistrin interviews Robin and Paul Gale-Baker

Many of you will know Robin and Paul through Sustainable Macleod, the Macleod Veggie Swap or the Macleod Organic Community Garden. Or you might know Robin from her various presentations on fruit tree pruning and vegetable growing. Or you might know Paul through his wicking beds, including the ones that he recently built for Incredible Edible Eltham. Marina has now interviewed Robin and Paul as home growers. Here is how Marina introduces their garden: “As I look at the current back garden on their quarter acre block, I see that it is varied and essentially divides into ‘rooms’ but still holds together as one theme. It is a potager garden featuring mainly Mediterranean plants. Up the centre of the garden, in a T formation, is a faded red brick path … On the left bank is a long curving hedge of flowering lavender in front of which grow culinary herbs and orange calendula and behind which is an almond tree, persimmon, olive, pomegranate and feijoa, all underlaid with herbs … On the right bank, in the foreground, are more small-leaved herbs – thymes and savouries – draping over a wall of wooden sleepers and these break up the straight lines of garden edging.Read the full interview.

Marina is one of 5(!) people who have come forward and offered to do some home grower interviews following Helen Simpson’s ‘retirement’. We now need to find some people for them to interview! If you would be willing to be interviewed, or you know someone who has an interesting garden, email me. Finally, here is what someone has written in about Helen: “Helen’s articles have been a real highlight of the newsletter for me. She has been very generous with her time in doing them, she writes very well, and her efforts have been greatly appreciated.

What seeds to plant in November

Here is a list (see the planting guide for more detail):

Warm season veggies

Beans
Cucumber
Gourd
Okra
Peanut
Pumpkin
Rockmelon
Sweetcorn

Perennial herbs

Lemon balm
Oregano
Rosemary
Sage
Tarragon

Other veggies and herbs

Asparagus
Beetroot
Carrot
Chives
Globe artichoke
Jerusalem artichoke
Lettuce
Mustard greens
Parsley
Radish
Rocket
Silverbeet
Sweet potato

Compared with October, the list gets shorter, with some summer veggies dropping off (e.g. rockmelon and zucchini) and with nothing added.

Mac’s tip of the week

Now is the time to start checking your grape vines for the caterpillars of the grapevine moth. These black and white day-flying moths (not butterflies) lay their eggs on the under-sides of the leaves and it doesn’t take long before the holes appear. As they grow, these caterpillars can eat up to 6 leaves a day each as well as the developing grapes, and severe defoliation can therefore happen. Hand pick as often as you can. If you can’t reach, or numbers are too many, you can use low-toxic, organic bacterial sprays such as Dipel or Success. For those of you with young children, or are still inspired by the wonders of nature, put some caterpillars in a ‘bug catcher’, or large container with air holes. Feed them your chosen leaves and watch them grow and pupate.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

No food swap at Diamond Creek this weekend

Pam Jenkins is away and, as a result, the Diamond Creek food swap has been cancelled.

Incredible Edible Eltham news

There are still spaces available at the official opening on 13th November at 4pm. Register your attendance now before it is too late. Meet on the railway platform at 4pm and then retire to Platform 3095 cafe and bar for complementary tapas, coffee and a free drink. Local notables who will be present include Vicki Ward MP, Mayor Peter Clarke, Sean Spencer (CEO healthAbility), Felicity Gordon (the project’s artist), Paul Gale-Baker and Paul Morland (who jointly led the building of the wicking beds).

Some news about future Eltham Farmers’ Markets

Eltham Farmers’ Market is now weekly, on every Sunday of the year (apart from Christmas Eve, etc)!

Going weekly means there are many new stallholders. On 5th November, 14(!) stallholders will be making their debut. 6 of these are from North East Melbourne:

  • A Local Baker St Andrews, from St Andrews, will be selling organic sourdough bread and croissant.
  • Kaz’s Chai, from Research, will be selling chai tea.
  • La Villa Salumi, from Kilsyth, will be selling pork sausages, bacon and smoked smallgoods.
  • Take Me Home, from Coburg, will be selling pastas, gnocchi, pizza bases, pasta sauces and crostatas.
  • The Cake Stall, from Eltham, will be selling cakes and croissants. Also, sausage rolls, pies and quiche.
  • The Mrs & Co, from Mt Evelyn, will be selling muesli.

The other 8 are from elsewhere in Victoria:

Those of you who go to the market will know that Local Food Connect has an information marquee where members of the public can ask questions, take away leaflets, etc. With the market going weekly, we need to increase the pool of volunteers who man the marquee. Most of the questions are easy to answer and, if necessary, you can always refer the more difficult ones to ‘a higher authority’ (i.e. one of us). Training will also be available from Pam Jenkins and myself. If interested, email Pam.

Some news from the last Eltham Farmers’ Market

At the last Eltham Farmers’ Market, Maria Ciavarella, from My Green Garden demonstrated how to make onion jam/relish. Here is her recipe.

The Box and The Bucket provided the musical entertainment. In front of them, they had a bucket (or was it a box?) which invited listeners to contribute some coins to Feed Melbourne. As a result, $160 was donated.

S J Crawford (aka Penny and Amber) will no longer be a stallholder at the market. The Crawford family are retiring from farming, having been at every Eltham market since our very first one in April 2014. Penny, plus daughter Amber, have been the main face of the Crawford presence while Stephen has been the farmer. Thanks for all your great produce over those years and for the warm and friendly way that you dealt with the public. You will be missed.

More community gardens in Moreland

Three more (CERES, Jewell (Brunswick) and Stock Street (Coburg)). Another way of viewing the material is via the community gardening section of the Local Food Directory. They have also been included on the map of where all the community gardens are.

CERES Jewell (Brunswick) Stock Street (Coburg)

 

Lee Tozzi is Moreland’s ‘new’ Food System Officer

The ‘new’ is in inverted commas because, although I have only just found out, Lee was apparently appointed 5 months ago. She is also continuing as Darebin’s Sustainable Food Officer. With her Moreland hat on, you can contact Lee by email or by phone (9240 1111 – Tuesdays and Thursdays only). Congratulations, Lee!

Local food news

Backyard Honey, from Surrey Hills, featured in the 16th October edition of the Whitehorse Leader.
Park Orchards Farmers’ Market and Wonga Park Farmers’ Market both featured in the October edition of The Warrandyte Diary.
Warrandyte Community Garden featured in the October edition of The Warrandyte Diary.

 
The ready made meals of Carlton’s We Feed you are now available at Apples and Sage Organic Wholefoods, Balwyn. DIVRS’s and Darebin Fruit Squad’s Harvesting the Urban Orchard project was given a Highly Commended award in the Keep Victoria Beautiful Sustainable City Awards.

‘Crowd harvest’ – Father’s Day

Gardeners everywhere often harvest more seeds than they can sensibly store. Gardeners with excess seeds are invited to send them in a Christmas card or holiday card to one or more not-for profit organisations listed below, each of which has a certified horticulturalist employed and ready to look after the seeds, either to start the seeds, store the seeds or distribute to others in need who know how to start seeds. Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Footscray, DIVRS in Preston, STREAT in Collingwood or Carrington Health in Box Hill (ask for Alex Salmon). Any questions, contact Cath Lyons (aka Tiny Trowel) by phone (0401 814679) or email.

Want to adopt a beehive?

Create Your Good Life are looking for homes in the Croydon, Ringwood, Chirnside, Warrandyte areas to host a beehive in their backyards. There is no cost to you. If interested, read their Facebook post.

The Sustainable Living Festival is open to event applications

See their application page.

Want to be on Gardening Australia?

Are you renovating a small garden space soon? If so, Gardening Australia would like to come and film your project – it could be a courtyard, a veggie patch, a balcony, a verge or other SMALL area. Send a picture of your space and a sentence or two about you and your plans to mygarden@your.abc.net.au (read their original Facebook post).

Can you sprout a corn cob?

According to this website, you can: “Simply fill a dish with 1 inch of water and place the corn cob in the water … Within a few days you will begin to see the shoots sprout upwards, you will also see the roots grow in the water.

11 useful food hacks

This video, which gives 11 specific tips about food preparation, has apparently been watched 55 million times.

Proverb of the month

What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Meaning: the same set of rules remain applicable to both men and women (a ‘gander’ is a male goose); alternatively, if something is acceptable for one person, then it is (or should be) equally so for another. Literal meaning: the same sauce applies equally well to cooked geese regardless of their gender.

The proverb dates back to the 17th century but there were similar expressions going back a further 100 years (e.g. “As well for the coowe calfe as for the bull”, from 1549).

Incidently, barnacle geese are so-called because it was thought, in medieval times, that they were the adult form of goose barnacles. This was apparently because barnacle geese were never seen to nest in Europe (unbeknownst to the medievalists, they breed in places like Greenland) and have similar colouration to goose barnacles. Since barnacle geese were thought to be “neither flesh, nor born of flesh”, they were allowed to be eaten on days when eating meat was forbidden by Christianity.

Alert readers may remember that the very first proverb discussed in this newsletter was “fine words butter no parsnips“. Well, Claire Miller has submitted a very funny video which features the phrase.

Read all the proverbs.

Quote of the month

I think we all have a dream of what it would be like not to work and grow heirloom tomatoes, and I do have that dream. It would be lovely. I do love gardening and all of that, but I also love my work.” by Helen Mirren.

Joke of the week

Why did the clock in the cafe run slow? It always went back four seconds!

Read all the jokes.

New events – Backyard Harvest Festival

The annual Backyard Harvest Festival (previously called the Darebin Backyard Harvest Festival) is taking place 18-26 November and will include gardens and workshops from Moreland as well as Darebin. All the garden tours and workshops are discussed below and each costs $10 ($5 concession). Click here to download a pdf of the full program. If you have any questions, contact Tina Stagg by phone (8470 8673) or email.

Harry’s micro orchard garden

What: Harry is passionate about gardening in small spaces and has been lovingly tending his fully organic micro orchard garden for 13 years. At 72 square metres, this garden demonstrates you don’t need a large plot of land to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Harry planned, constructed and planted the garden with his daughter to encourage science concepts through organic gardening. Clever grafting methods yield citruses, apples, pomegranates and stone fruits. The all year rotation of herbs and seasonal vegetables supplement the food requirements for a family of five
When: Saturday, 18th November, 10-11am.
Where: Northcote.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Backyard beekeeping with Benedict Hughes, the practical beekeeper

What: As The Practical Beekeeper, Benedict Hughes collects swarms, manages hives, extracts honey, teaches and loves bees. He is a member of the Beekeeper State Quarantine Response Team with the Victorian Government (emergency beekeeper) and is approved by Darebin Council to keep bees in Darebin Parklands and Bundoora Park. This interactive, hands on workshop will introduce you to backyard beekeeping and urban honey production. Learn about the bee lifecycle, starting a new hive, beekeeping equipment, hive management and honey extraction. You will have access to bee hives and educational bee display. Participants will receive a full set of handouts. Suitable for both beginners and the more experienced beekeeper.
When: Saturday, 18th November, 10-midday.
Where: CERES.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Citrus and apple tree propagating workshop with Harry Kalathas

What: There’s nothing more satisfying than propagating your own plants. In this workshop, Harry will demonstrate two propagating techniques for citrus and apple trees: basic aerial layering and grafting. You will gain an understanding of the tools and equipment and seasonal timing requirements for each technique as well as how to take care of grafts and propagated plants during their initial growing period.

When: Saturday, 18th November, 11.15am-12.15pm.
Where: Northcote.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Kat’s permaculture home garden

What: Kat Lavers is a passionate gardener, permaculture designer, trainer and facilitator. She coordinates the My Smart Garden program for Hobsons Bay City Council, runs Green Steps training for Monash University and has taught permaculture in Australia and Mongolia. Her house and garden, ‘The Plummery’, is a small-scale urban permaculture system. The 1/14 acre site produces almost all the veggies, herbs, fruit, mushrooms and electricity consumed by the household, as well as recycling all organic waste on site. There is also a retrofitted light earth studio made from on site clay and re-claimed materials.
When: Saturday, 18th November, 12.45-1.45pm.
Where: Northcote.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Keeping quails with Kat Lavers

What: Keeping quails is a fantastic way to produce eggs in a small garden. They are quieter than chickens and hardy too. In this workshop, Kat will introduce you to her covey of quails and discuss their food and housing needs, including tips and tricks to reduce maintenance. And of course you will also taste some delicious quail eggs!
When: Saturday, 18th November, 2-3pm.
Where: Northcote.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Lena’s courtyard garden

What: Lena is in the first year of establishing a permaculture-inspired garden in her 40 square metre courtyard. The plan is to fill this space with as many productive plants as possible whilst attracting bees and other beneficial insects. A fascination for making the best of small spaces for gardening motivates this project, and Lena will provide tips to maximise production and small space gardening resources. Re-localisation of food production, the facilitation of social connection, the rethinking of the economy of consumption and improved care for the natural environment have become a prism through which Lena’s decisions are made in all aspects of life. To Lena, life is so much more interesting living mindfully and simply!
When: Saturday, 18th November, 3.30-4.30pm.
Where: Thornbury.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Michael and Dru’s cottage food garden

What: Michael and Dru have lovingly turned the front and back yard of his rented home into an attractive and productive food garden without breaking the bank. Tidy garden beds, pretty brick baths, a rustic chook shed and greenhouse have all been built through the ingenious use of recycled materials. Chickens are integral, producing eggs and disposing of household scraps and providing valuable fertiliser, but are also cleverly managed to prevent them from decimating precious vegetables. The front garden is reminiscent of a European cottage garden with plenty of bee-attracting flowering plants among the herbs, while the rear is devoted to vegetables and fruit trees, including a feature fig. Vegetables and greens are carefully selected to ensure that the household has a supply of fresh produce all year round. Includes a demonstration of how to get the most out of homemade compost in each season.
When: Sunday, 19th November, 10-11am.
Where: Preston.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Maya’s exotic edible garden

What: Maya has created an edible garden that is as beautiful as it is fruitful. Decorative, highly productive hedges are formed from an extensive range of pruned and grafted fruit trees using a unique combination of espalier, cordon, ‘Bouche Thomas’ and dwarfing rootstock to create intriguing shapes and patterns. The garden features 28 apple trees of several varieties, a range of cane and bush berries, persimmons, cherry guavas, feijoas and citrus. Mature grape vines are trained against the house, helping cool it in summer and yielding delicious summer grapes. Maya practices organic and biodynamic gardening methods complete with recycled rain water and extensive composting systems. A netted chicken fence protects the rear garden from striking ‘Araucana’ chickens, originally bred in South America, who are kept as much for their wonderfully friendly nature as for their beautiful pale blue eggs. A home-built coffee roaster in the backyard completes the picture. This garden is a delight to all the senses, not just the tastebuds!
When: Sunday, 19th November, 11.15am-12.15pm.
Where: Preston.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Kelly’s re-purposed food garden

What: This multi-purpose garden was established in 2014 with an impatient, hopeful, and feeble attempt at growing a sweet potato in heavy clay soil. The acceptance of reality lead to the introduction of growing boxes and started the continuous work to improve the soil. Based around principles of sustainability and a complete inability to dispose of anything that hasn’t been utilised a number of times, much of the infrastructure in the garden is made from materials collected from hard rubbish and building sites or re-purposed from a previous life; even from within the garden itself. The garden includes established and young fruit trees, vegetables and herbs, children and toys, chickens and bees, ornamental plants, lawn, and often some kind of construction project. It is a flexible and evolving space that everyone in the house loves to be in.
When: Sunday, 19th November, 11.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Fawkner.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Katrina’s beneficial insect food garden

What: As a passionate Preston home gardener, Katrina Forstner has created a native bee friendly garden full of fruit trees, vegetables, perennial and native flowers and chickens. Find out more about attracting beneficial insects and how this productive garden thrives with homemade compost with locally sourced green waste, pest control and fertiliser courtesy of the resident chickens. Over fifteen fruit trees, grapes, berries, and pollinator attracting flowers along with several bee hotels dotted around the garden, have created a native bee haven. This garden is part of ongoing research undertaken by Melbourne University VEIL Urban Food project which measures the input and outputs of a home garden in the context of a sustainable city food system.
When: Sunday, 19th November, 12.45-1.45pm.
Where: Preston.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Pam’s fruitful garden

What: Pam has created a lush productive garden with a huge range of fruit trees most of which she grafted herself. There are over 70 varieties, including cherries, plums, apples, pears and citrus, as well as lots of berries, including blueberries. The garden is carefully planned with a structured layout and variety of intensive training systems to maximise fruit production. Many of the fruit trees and berries are in large pots to help manage a neutral/alkaline soil and for those areas unsuitable for in-ground planting. The microclimate created by a tall building at the rear of the block enables Pam to grow tropical plants including fruiting bananas and avocados and edible bamboos for screening and food. Wicking beds have just been installed to provide a consistent water supply to vegetables and herbs, particularly in the summer heat. Most of the rest of the garden, including pots, is watered by a drip system that can be set to automatic mode.
When: Sunday, 19th November, 1-2pm.
Where: Coburg.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Katrina’s bee hotel workshop

What: In celebration of National Pollinator Week, go along to this fascinating workshop about native bees. Katrina Forstner founder of Buzz and Dig will introduce you to the amazing world of native bees and how to attract them in to your garden as valuable pollinators for your flowers and edibles. Learn first hand why native bees are so important in urban gardens and make your very own bee hotel using materials sourced from the garden and recycled materials. You will be rewarded with increased biodiversity and better pollination and from these friendly little bees.
When: Sunday, 19th November, 2-3pm.
Where: Preston.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

‘Rani’s patch’ and multicultural food garden

What: Rani and her neighbourhood of wonderful gardeners have transformed the once barren treeless bike path south of Batman Station into a lush garden known as ‘Rani’s Patch’. Part of the Upfield urban forest, edibles and non-edibles are woven together to create a scented, colourful vista of vegetation. Riders and walkers can even stop and read a book from Rani’s library. The tour also includes Rani’s home food garden which is no less inspiring. Her love of cooking from many cultures including traditional Bangladeshi dishes is reflected in the diverse range of vegetables and herbs she grows. Indian spinach (‘puisak’), bitter gourd (‘korolla’), and thistle grow alongside kaffir lime, turnip, kale, eggplant, persimmon, pomegranate and nectarine. Children at Rani’s day care centre grow food too, helping them learn where food comes from and how it is used in different cultures.
When: Sunday, 19th November, 2.30-4pm.
Where: Coburg.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Angelo’s fertile food forest

What: Angelo (Deep Green Permaculture) is a sustainable gardening and permaculture presenter, trainer and writer and passionate food forest advocate. His garden won a Darebin Sustainability Award in 2012, and was featured in the prestigious Open Gardens Australia event in 2014 and 2015. Angelo’s high density food forest garden produces a huge diversity of food – stone fruits, berries, herbs and vegetables. What appears to be a verdant tumble of vegetation is actually strategic placement to create synergistic relationships and enhance the micro-climate and growing conditions for each plant. This is also an effective pest control technique resulting in a wonderfully abundant organic garden.
When: Sunday, 19th November, 3.15-4.15pm.
Where: Preston.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Steve and Georgia’s mini suburban farm

What: Steve and Georgia have transformed their home to a suburban mini-farm in seven years. Their garden includes over 90 fruit trees pruned to a range of forms, including espaliers, to increase productivity and make the most of spaces. It also features a front yard food forest, berries, raised veggie beds, bees and chickens. Companion planting is used to attract beneficial insects for organic pest control. The garden’s environmental footprint is reduced by using re-purposed materials as much as possible, and water efficiency measures, including grey water reuse. The garden is highly productive, and provides the bulk of the couple’s veggie, fruit, honey and egg needs year round.
When: Monday, 20th November, 6-7pm.
Where: Reservoir.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Karen Sutherland’s ‘Gunyah’ garden

What: Karen’s garden, ‘Gunyah’, meaning resting place, is actually busy all year round producing food. Karen has lived and grown food here for the last 30 years, and the garden has gradually evolved into an intensive food forest with around 200 edible and useful species. Focusing on perennial and self-seeding vegetables, particularly those that tolerate shade, Gunyah also grows: around 30 native Australian edibles; many South American fruits and tubers; and a range of culinary, medicinal and tea herbs. The garden has chickens and quail, a rooftop garden with a bee hive, a nature strip garden, an aquaponics system and a small nursery. Karen continues to learn from her garden laboratory, which informs her work as a designer, educator and writer.
When: Monday, 20th November, 6-7.30pm.
Where: Pascoe Vale South.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Steve’s water efficient garden workshop

What: As Melbourne’s climate gets hotter and drier, keeping a productive garden thriving while minimising water use is a challenge. At this workshop, Steve will discuss simple, cheap, DIY techniques to use less water, and make the most of the water you do use, including: garden design and plant selection, mulching, efficient irrigation, rainwater capture and grey water re-use.
When: Monday, 20th November, 7.15-8.15pm.
Where: Reservoir.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Food forests with Angelo Eliades

What: Passionate food forest advocate Angelo Eliades, from Deep Green Permaculture, will demonstrate how a conventional backyard has been transformed into a thriving, productive biodiverse demonstration permaculture food forest garden with 30 fruit trees, dozens of berries and multitudes of medicinal herbs, as well as plenty of exotic edibles from around the world and native bush food plants.
When: Tuesday, 21st November, 6-7pm.
Where: Preston.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Munir and Mittul’s compact courtyard garden

What: Through smart design, Munir and Mittul have created a productive growing space in a small courtyard, with room to spare to enjoy a backyard barbecue. Making the most of the northerly aspect, the garden features passionfruit vines, chilli bushes, dwarf nectarine, fig, strawberry guava, avocado, cherry, mandarin and apple trees. Raised keyhole garden beds with drip irrigation maximise the water and nutrient efficiency for growing vegetables and herbs. A chook house refurbished from an old bamboo cubby house completes the picture. Munir and Mittul are also the founders of Giant Grass Design, designing and building structures from ecologically sustainable bamboo.
When: Tuesday, 21st November, 6-7pm.
Where: Coburg.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Meg’s food and family garden

What: This organic garden boasts a wide variety of fruit, herbs and vegetables and also demonstrates that food gardens can be both productive spaces and recreational places. The family work, eat and play here. Self-sufficiency is not the aim, but the garden flourishes thanks to a very efficient composting system, donated worm juice and water tanks. Excess harvest, as well as saved seeds and gardening tips, are swapped with neighbours creating a wonderful food community. Go and be convinced that city people with busy work and family lives can also be a part of the growing urban agriculture movement.

When: Wednesday, 22nd November, 6-9pm.
Where: Northcote.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Composting and worm farming workshop

What: It is easy to reduce your waste through composting and the rewards of your work can create a thriving, resilient garden! Heidi Sanghvi specialises in growing school gardens and has a productive home garden where compost is used as a vital input to these permaculture systems. Learn about the wonder of compost, how to establish and maintain worm farms and compost bins, as well as problem-solving tips for managing your organic waste.
When: Wednesday, 22nd November, 6-7.15pm.
Where: Coburg.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

The yard permaculture sharehouse

What: Emma, Josie and Margie will take you on an amazing journey around their permaculture garden which is bursting with produce front and back. This is one of 3 sites where the Gnomes Farming Cooperative meet to grow food locally in suburban garden spaces. There are around 40 fruiting plants on the large block, including persimmon, apples, plum, hazelnuts, bananas, passionfruit, lilly pilly and a berry forest of blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Maximum production is achieved through a market garden area, which this year includes 150 garlic plants, enough to supply the household for a year. The garden also features a beehive, an outdoor kitchen and wood heated bath.
When: Thursday, 23rd November, 6-9pm.
Where: Preston.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Damian’s biodiverse permaculture garden

What: Damian has been enthusiastically practicing permaculture since he attended a talk by permaculture co-founder Bill Mollison in 1977. He is also involved in replanting native vegetation on Herring Island in inner suburban Melbourne. What permaculture and bush regeneration have in common is that they both aim to establish biodiversity whether building up microbes in the soil, integrating chooks and fruit trees or attracting wildlife to the garden. The complex mix of species forms mutually beneficial relationships, all performing multiple functions such as nutrient cycling, pollination or pest control. Damian’s garden reflects his love of growing food for both humans and local native species.
When: Saturday, 25th November, 10-11am.
Where: Reservoir.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

George and Marika’s mini market garden

What: With higher density living, George and Marika’s backyard is an increasingly rare example of a large area completely given over to edible crops in the style of a mini market garden. George and Marika have nurtured their highly productive garden for over 5 years and are passionate promoters of home food growing. Their garden supplies them with virtually all their fresh food all year round – plus excess to share! This is one of the festivals largest and most prolific gardens, featuring an orchard, mature grapevines, large vegetable beds, and a composting system. George will generously share his pruning and creative organic pest control techniques during the tour.
When: Saturday, 25th November, 11.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Reservoir.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Antonis’ Greek garden

What: This garden reflects a piece of Greek culture in Reservoir. A giant cactus (called a prickly pear) is a key feature of the garden landscape. Established in 1975, when Antonis first came to Australia and now devotedly tended in his retirement, this garden includes a variety of seasonal and perennial edible fruits and produce. It also features a brick oven used in the past for making bread, integral to Greek cuisine. The garden is sustained with natural fertilisers and rainwater from large tanks.
When: Saturday, 25th November, 1-2pm.
Where: Reservoir.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Mark’s ‘try and try again’ garden

What: Starting with a blank slate, Mark has established his extensive food garden over 10 years. Food is incorporated into all garden areas, from the hardy drought resistant herbs on the front verge, orchard in the front yard, grapevines along the side to the fruit and nut trees and purpose build raised wicking beds of seasonal vegetables and herbs out the back. A cleverly designed deep litter chicken pen allows his Light Sussex and Barnevelder (‘Boofy’) chooks to scratch and forage for tasty grubs in the garden while protecting vegetables from hungry beaks. Mark has experimented with the garden layout and design over time, and will share what has worked and what hasn’t. He is planning to build a new home on the site soon, and will re-design some elements of the garden at the same time, in an ongoing process of improvement and renewal.
When: Saturday, 25th November, 2.30-3.30pm.
Where: Coburg.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Kate’s evolving permaculture garden

What: Kate is a passionate gardener, cook and urban farmer. Inspired by the adventures of Tom and Barbara from ‘The Good Life’, Kate grows and tends a large veggie garden, raises chooks and keeps bees. Kate is a partner in The Urban Pear, a landscape architecture and permaculture design business which aims to draw connections between the landscape and the way we eat and live. Kate is experimenting with several weed management techniques for different situations including shading, smothering, free ranging guinea pigs and acceptance, with interesting results. Significant changes next door has meant re-thinking parts of the garden and has opened opportunities for new ideas and new plantings.
When: Saturday, 25th November, 2.30-3.30pm.
Where: Reservoir.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Georgia’s compact food garden

What: Georgia’s garden will appeal to those who have downsized or don’t have much space, demonstrating that you don’t need to compromise on quality, diversity and variety of edible plants when space is limited. Georgia will share many of her space- and cost-saving food gardening tips. Many vegetables and herbs in the garden are self-propagating and are used in traditional Greek dishes. Georgia’s front yard is a colourful tribute to ornamentals, often attracting admirers and photographers.
When: Saturday, 25th November, 4-5pm.
Where: Northcote.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Organic backyard chook keeping with Jessamy Miller

What: Want healthy, happy and productive chooks as part of your sustainable backyard? Jessamy Miller has a monthly column and an online blog on backyard chooks for the ABC’s Organic Gardener magazine and holds regular online Q&A sessions answering poultry queries. She is also an editor for Australasian Poultry and Grass Roots magazine. In this workshop, she will demonstrate how to set up your hen house, integrate chooks into the garden, and manage your flock using organic methods. Get the lowdown on what to feed your birds, and how to deal with some common issues.
When: Sunday, 26th November, 10-11.30am.
Where: Northcote.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Robbie’s aquaponics garden

What: Featured in his book Edible Garden Designs, Jamie Durie writes “This family is the very model of environmental awareness”. Robbie’s garden has also been in The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, ABC Melbourne, 3AW, Good Organic Gardening and Sanctuary Magazine. Both front and back yards are devoted to food production, and feature two aquaponics systems in which trout and vegetables are grown in a mutually dependent relationship, enabling both to thrive. One system is homemade while the other is a purchased kit, and both are seamlessly incorporated into rest of the garden, which produces a huge variety of vegetables and herbs. Composting and free-range chickens also contribute to this garden’s sustainability credentials.
When: Sunday, 26th November, midday-1pm.
Where: Thornbury.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Kim’s recycled renters garden

What: The fact that Kim rents has not held her back from being an enthusiastic and creative food gardener who loves to experiment. She wants to encourage renters and non renters alike to try food gardening no matter how big or small a home they have. Kim’s garden reflects her love of recycled materials, gardening in tune with the changing seasons and growing what she loves to eat. Her garden is always evolving, with a range of tropical and temperate fruits, vegetables and herbs grown in her front and backyard, making use of the different micro-climates around her home. You will find Kim’s enthusiasm infectious as she shares anecdotes about her garden triumphs and failures, proving you don’t need to have a ‘green thumb’ to give it a go.
When: Sunday, 26th November, 1.30-2.30pm.
Where: Reservoir.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Lee’s generous sharing garden

What: Lee is passionate about sharing the health and well being benefits of tending to, and eating from, her bountiful garden in her social housing estate. She wanted to break down the perception that many of her neighbours had that food gardening is expensive, and is committed to making food gardening low-cost and accessible. She shares her surplus harvest, saved seeds and garden knowledge with her neighbours, friends, family and local community. Her garden features a wide range of fruit and veggies such as potato, pumpkin, tomatoes, leafy greens, strawberries kiwiberries and even a banana palm. The sense of achievement and satisfaction that Lee enjoys through growing something with her own hands and sharing / swapping seasonal excess with her neighbours is inspirational. Her garden demonstrates that growing and sharing food can bring the community together.
When: Sunday, 26th November, 3-4pm.
Where: Reservoir.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

Sharing homegrown food with Luigi and Emanuela

What: From the moment you arrive, your gregarious and hospitable hosts Luigi and Emanuela will entertain you with gardening and food preserving knowledge and stories as they showcase their abundant Mediterranean inspired garden. Features include intensively cultivated vegetable beds, a home built hothouse, food preserving area and backyard pizza oven. Luigi will share his secret to growing the biggest eggplants you have ever seen!
When: Sunday, 26th November, 4-5pm.
Where: Reservoir.
Bookings: Eventbrite.

New events – other

Big tomato giveaway

What: The Watsonia Community Gardeners are continuing their tradition of growing tomatoes to release into the community.
When: Thursday, 2nd November, 11am-midday.
Where: Watsonia Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Beeswax wraps workshop

What: Learn from Emma Grace how to make beeswax wraps to keep food fresh and hygienic without using single-use plastics. Bookings essential.
When: Saturday, 4th November, 1-3pm.
Where: Coburg.
Cost: $40 ($30 concession) plus $10 materials.
Bookings: by phone (9913 5472).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Kildonan’s annual garden fiesta

What: The festivities will include: Peppertree Nursery selling summer veggie seedlings and plants plus pea straw, sheep poo and potting mix; at 10.30am – native bushfoods and herbs by Karen Sutherland from Edible Eden Designs; at 11am – a garden design clinic by Yvonne Pecujac from Gardens of Delight; hot food, BBQ, salads and cafe; a makers’ market and information stalls; secondhand book stall; and music and entertainment.
When: Saturday, 11th November, 10am-4pm.
Where: PepperTree Place, Coburg.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Fermentation for health

What: Learn about all things gut health plus a beginner’s guide to fermentation and what the benefits are to including this ancient food as medicine in our modern lifestyle.
When: Saturday, 11th November, 2-3pm.
Where: Watsonia Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

SEEDs Communal Garden open day

What: SEEDs is a communal garden, that grows natural networks, skills, mutual opportunities, friendships, organic food and community for all who are involved in it. This event is an open day to welcome the community and anyone interested in becoming a volunteer gardener. They will be joined by the Catalyst Training food van, who will be selling gourmet toasties (an initiative to support students undertaking Certificate I Work Education).
When: Monday, 13th November, 10am-2pm.
Where: SEEDs Communal Garden, Brunswick.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Local Government and food business masterclass

What: This interactive workshop is for Local Government staff involved in supporting the local food economy and tourism, community development and health and wellbeing planners and policy makers, as well as community food groups, food entrepreneurs, businesses and enterprise – both start-ups and those looking to expand their activities. Devita Davison will draw from her experience as the Co-Director of FoodLab Detroit to discuss the enabling environment needed for businesses working to create a fairer food system to thrive. Devita will share case studies from FoodLab Detroit and businesses will have the chance to share the challenges and the opportunities that they face now and in the future.
When: Monday, 13th November, midday-3pm.
Where: Thornbury.
Cost: $35 (includes vegetarian banquet lunch).
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Food know how sustainability sessions – The Urban Pear on fermenting and infusing at home

What: The average household in Australia throws away $2,000 worth of food every year. That means that one out of five bags of shopping that is purchased is never eaten. Join The Urban Pear to learn about fermenting and infusing sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and vinegars.
When: Tuesday, 14th November, 11am-midday.
Where: North Fitzroy Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Cooking master class

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: ham & brie tart; chicken rice salad; and Christmas pudding ice cream tart.
When: Thursday, 16th November and Friday, 17th November, both 7-9pm.
Where: Templestowe.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: 16th November and 17th November.

The age old art of preserving – bottling, jams, pickles & chutneys

What: Presenter Maria Ciavarella. What you will learn: how to select, re-use and sterilise suitable jars; how to use standard kitchen equipment to make preserves, without needing to buy specialist items; and how to bottle fruit, and make jams, pickles and relishes and the science behind the techniques. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; small (new) jars of the 4 preserves made on the day; and tastings of other preserves made by My Green Garden. Learn how to preserve the seasonal abundance of fruits and veggies safely, using a variety of techniques. These techniques can be used on most fruit and veggies so that you learn to make your own delicious preserves, with no artificial additives and nasty numbers. No preserving background is assumed. Dehydrating is also demonstrated.
When: Saturday, 18th November, 10am-1.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $75.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Stock Street Community Garden mindful gardening

What: Make mini succulent and/or cacti gardens to take home at the end of the day. If you have some of your own plants you would like to include in your own zen garden then please feel free to bring them along. Mindfullness is a state of calm awareness of ones surroundings. Gardening is one of the best ways to practice mindfullness and it’s also nice to do in a group as you can make each other calmly aware of being attentive and focusing on our senses.
When: Sunday, 19th November, 2-5pm.
Where: Stock Street Community Garden, Coburg.
Cost: $5.
Bookings: contact Sarah by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Water wise gardening and summer veggies

What: Join Felicity Gordon and the Watsonia Community Gardeners for a practical session on caring for your veggies through the summer months. The session will also include a seed sowing demonstration so you can grow your own summer veggies.
When: Thursday, 23rd November, 11am-midday.
Where: Watsonia Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summer pruning workshop

What: Presenter Chris England. For beginners or as a refresher for more experienced pruners. An introductory lecture will be followed by a hands-on workshop. Using the demonstration fruit trees in the orchard of the Burnley Gardens, you will learn to summer prune fruit trees to get maximum fruit. Chris will also demonstrate how to get fruit on espalier fruit trees.
When: Saturday, 2nd December, 10am-1pm.
Where: Richmond.
Cost: $65.
Bookings: by phone (9035 6815) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Christmas cake decorating

What: Irene, from the Victorian Cake Decorating Society, will provide tips and tricks for decorating your Christmas cake.
When: Monday, 4th December, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Thomastown Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Food know how sustainability sessions – Plan, Buy, Cook presents preparing for the holiday season

What: The average household in Australia throws away $2,000 worth of food every year. That means that one out of five bags of shopping that is purchased is never eaten. Join Gaby and Jen from Plan Buy Cook to learn some simple ways to reduce the food waste and save you time and money.
When: Tuesday, 5th December, 11am-midday.
Where: North Fitzroy Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Oct 102017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

When it comes to fruit trees, it is often a case of less is more! Now that your fruit tree flowers are ending and the fruit is starting to form, it is a great time to remove some of the fruit! When a tree is carrying a very heavy crop, the fruits are often small and of poor quality. Fruit thinning can improve fruit size and quality on many fruit trees, including apples, pears, plums, peaches and nectarines. Simply remove some of the fruit by hand. Thinning will also stop your fruit trees bearing biennially (i.e. a heavy crop one year is followed by a light crop the year after) plus you will prevent branches breaking from bearing too much fruit and allow better air flow (which helps protect your fruit against both fungal disease and insect attack).

Read all of Mac’s tips.

Are you, or can you be, a budding journalist?

Helen Simpson has decided to go back to University (Spatial Geography). With this, plus her day job(s), she will no longer have the time to write for the website and newsletter. So, after two years and 24 articles (with 2 more to come), she is retiring. I’d like to thank Helen for all her efforts: her growing guides have added both substance and visitor volume to the website; and her more recent home grower interviews have been widely acclaimed. If, by way of tribute, you would like to say anything about Helen’s articles, Email me.

I really would like us to continue with the home grower interviews. Ideally, we would find a Helen substitute but this might well prove difficult. Rather, I think the way forward is probably to have 2 or 3 interviewers to share the load, with these people covering different geographical areas within North East Melbourne. Would you be willing to interview some home growers in either your local area or further afield? Email me.

Incredible Edible Eltham news

The edible food garden at Eltham railway station will be officially opened on 13th November at 4pm by Vicki Ward, MP. Meet the builders of the wicking beds, the artist of the murals and other key figures in Incredible Edible Eltham. After the opening, retire to Platform 3095 cafe and bar for complementary tapas, coffee and a free drink. Everyone welcome. Register here.

When seedlings are first planted in wicking beds, they need a bit of time to grow their roots before the wicking actually starts working. So, some of the volunteers have been watering them manually. Watering cans and hoses have been acquired and are being stored by the railway staff.

Visit the Facebook group to keep in touch with developments.

Eltham Farmers’ Market is going weekly (from 5th November)!

In case you missed the announcement in last week’s newsletter.

So, from 5th November, when you wake on a Sunday morning you will know it is market day without having to check your calendar.

A new food swap – Watsonia

The Diamond Village food swap will take place on Saturday, 14th October, 10-11am at the Diamond Village Shopping Centre (beside the Cruze Lounge cafe). If you want more information, contact Ken by phone (0434 906773) or email. Welcome Ken!

Vegan Mini Market – a mini review

The Vegan Mini Market is held on the first Saturday of each month at Abbotsford Convent. I went to the October market (the market only started in September). There were 19 stalls, 13 selling food and 6 selling other things (shoes, soap, etc). Of the 13 selling food, 8 were primarily selling food to take home and 5 were primarily selling ready-to-eat food to eat there. 2 of the stallholders are also stallholders at Eltham Farmers’ Market: 99th Monkey and Girl Made Chocolate.

It wasn’t very busy. Whilst this might not be good for the stallholders, it is good news for the punters as it makes the experience more enjoyable. And, as you will know if you ever go to the Slow Food Melbourne Farmers’ Market, the convent grounds are a nice place to stroll around. The one downside is that car parking costs money: $3 for the first 30 minutes, and then $2 per hour.

Dogs are allowed and there were quite a lot of them. My dog Oscar was very interested in a bag that a woman was carrying. Then she unzipped the bag and out popped … a chihuahua! There were a number of chihuahuas at the market – is this a vegan thing or an inner city thing?

A new maker of chocolate – Girl Made Chocolate

Girl Made Chocolate, from Northcote, produce handmade, raw chocolate blocks which are vegan, dairy-free and refined sugar-free. They use Certified Organic ingredients and their flavours include salty walnut, chilli, goji berry and mint. Currently, you can only buy their chocolate at Eltham Farmers’ Market, The Vegan Mini Market and The Food Repository in Fitzroy. Welcome Sanela and Adam!

Community gardens in Moreland

I’m in the process of adding the community gardens in the eastern part of Moreland to the website. It’s taking some time because there are quite a lot of them but the first 5 are now up (Brunswick Neighbourhood House, Fawkner, Merri Corner, Pentridge and SEEDs). Another way of viewing the material is via the community gardening section of the Local Food Directory. They have also been included on the map of where all the community gardens are. Thanks to Mark Sanders who maintains the Moreland Food Gardens Network website, which is where I got the initial information.

Brunswick Neighbourhood House Fawkner Merri Corner
Pentridge SEEDs

Local food news

You can now buy Top Hundred Acres eggs at the Health Bar Melbourne in Research.

Thrive community garden (Diamond Creek) have produced a newsletter.

Macleod Organic Community Garden fundraiser: you can place a pre-bid any time from now until 8am, Friday, 20th October at www.myminiauction.com/sustainablemacleod.

Planning controls for animal industries

The Victorian Government is proposing some reforms “to simplify planning requirements for animal-based farming, to improve the consistency of how the rules are applied, and to make the land use planning process clearer for farmers, councils and the community.” They are inviting public feedback by 14th November. Go to their website to read the proposals and to provide feedback. The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) aren’t very happy with the proposals – read their response.

Which link was clicked most times in last week’s newsletter?

The Incredible Edible Eltham Facebook group.

Joke of the week

As overheard at the vegan mini market: Why don’t cannibals eat clowns? Because they taste funny.

Read all the jokes.

New events

Buzz inn – make a bee hotel and learn more about native bees

What: The workshop will include an introduction to native bees, how to spot a native bee, the nesting types, buzz pollination, what materials are great to get you started with your own bee hotel, hands on building a bee hotel using natural and recycled materials, and how to set up a bee-friendly garden.
When: Saturday, 14th October, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Thornbury.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Surrey Hills Foodie Festival

What: Celebrate the love of food and lifestyle. Watch local talent light up the stage throughout the day, join in food preparation workshops or simply sit back and let your tastebuds be ignited with flavours from around the world. Whatever your thing, they have it covered: food trucks Manhatten Pizza, Meat up Grill, and Taco Junction; tastes from local restaurants St Barry, Red Cup, Vegie Bar and Grill’d; homemade cakes & preserves; wine & cheese, and (of course) amusement rides for kids and adults alike. It is free to go but you can also purchase wristbands for $35 which entitle the wearer to all day unlimited rides, including bungee challenge, rock climbing, big slide, animal farm, dart ball, potty toss, bullzeye, face painting, crazy hair, and nails.
When: Saturday, 14th October, 11am-4pm.
Where: Surrey Hills.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Preparing a pesto from your own garden produce

What: Be involved in a presentation on preparing a pesto using simple, available, garden produce.
When: Saturday, 14th October, 12.30-1pm.
Where: Thornbury.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Spring herbs for health

What: When it comes to culinary herbs, they certainly pack a punch, both nutritionally and medicinally. In this workshop Tess will take you through: herbs that grow well during Spring; their nutritional benefits; the health conditions they can help with (including hayfever); and how to include them in your diet. You will also get to explore the herbs growing at Koonung Cottage and Tess will demonstrate how to make a spring pesto and infused oils.
When: Wednesday, 18th October, 12.30-2pm.
Where: Blackburn North.
Cost: $33.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Introduction to horticulture (7 weeks)

What: Learn how to grow plants in their multicultural food garden. Prepare healthy soil for garden beds, pots or planter boxes. Raise healthy plants and maintain garden beds. Develop composting skills. Use garden tools and understand occupational health and safety. Develop the language and lieteracy of basic horticulture. Have the opportunity to work as a garden volunteer.
When: A 7-week course, each Thursday from 19th October to 7th December, each 1.30-3pm.
Where: Carlton North.
Cost: $30.
Bookings: contact Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre by phone (9347 2739) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

A wild food foragers guild session

What: Ingrid leads weekly foraging and cooking workshops in the Castlemaine / Chewton area. She will teach you some easy and practical recipes using whatever is foraged on the day.
When: Sunday, 22nd October, 11am-midday.
Where: Brunswick.
Cost: $10.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Humanscape – therapeutic horticulture in the workplace

What: In this workshop, presented by Kevin Heinze GROW, participants will gain knowledge and skills necessary to apply evidence-based therapeutic horticulture practices to enhance well being outcomes in the workplace. Practical and relevant content, hands-on activities and facilitation of shared lived experiences across a diverse range of health services will collectively ensure applicable and meaningful learning outcomes.
When: Wednesday, 25th October, again on Thursday, 16th November, and again on Friday, 8th December, all 9am-4pm.
Where: Doncaster.
Cost: $185 ($125 for students/volunteers).
Bookings: Trybooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Bellfield Community Garden open day

What: Go along explore the community garden space and try some freshly made pizza from their newly completed wood-fired pizza oven. The Ivanhoe Garden Club will also be running their annual Festa with demonstrations, plant and product sales and Devonshire tea.
When: Sunday, 29th October, midday-4pm.
Where: Bellfield Community Garden.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Cheese and wine masterclass

What: Let Spencer & Co Wine Bar Provedore’s resident cheese expert take you on a cheese appreciation journey. You will enjoy a selection of six cheeses, each matched with selected wines by Phil from The Wine Despository.
When: Wednesday, 1st November, 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: Carlton North.
Cost: $65.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Kimchi 2.0

What: Lentil As Anything is bringing you more kimchi than you can handle. 6-8.30pm: a kimchi-making workshop where you learn how to make your own kimchi. You will get: hands-on knowledge of how to make kimchi; a jar of Kimchi to take home; notes on how to make basic kimchi, as well as variations; and all the green tea you can drink. 8.30-9.30pm: a 5 course kimchi themed dinner – soup, pancakes, dumplings, assorted vegetable dishes and ice cream. This event will be hosted by Chase White and Joel Joseph James who, together, have previously run several kimchi workshops.
When: Wednesday, 8th November, 6-9.30pm.
Where: Preston.
Cost: $59.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Night Market at Chatham Primary

What: 50 stalls along with gourmet food, BBQ, cake stall and more. All funds raised will go towards school upgrades.
When: Thursday, 9th November, from 5.30pm.
Where: Surrey Hills.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Incredible Edible Eltham food garden – official opening

What: The edible food garden at Eltham railway station will be officially opened on 13th November at 4pm by Vicki Ward, MP. Meet the builders of the wicking beds, the artist of the murals and other key figures in Incredible Edible Eltham. After the opening, retire to Platform 3095 cafe and bar for complementary tapas, coffee and a free drink. Everyone welcome. But, to help us plant the catering, you need to register. Visit the Facebook group to keep in touch with developments.
When: Monday, 13th November, from 4pm.
Where: Eltham railway station.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Thermomix open house Melbourne

What: Facilitated by Grace and Bianca Mazur. You’ll learn how to make food from scratch using the Thermomix and the Cook-Key with their interactive stations, master new skills, shop TheMix Shop, and see live demonstrations from local chefs and special guests. Go for an hour or spend the whole day.
When: Saturday, 18th November, 9am-4pm.
Where: North Melbourne.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Kombucha workshop – make your own probiotic drink

What: Presented by Shakuntla Gondalia. You will learn all the ins and outs of obtaining great gut health. This workshop will cover the history of kombucha, how to make it, what can go wrong with it, and how to fix it. You will also cover how to make it even healthier and more delicious with secondary fermentation flavours and health benefits such as detoxification, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and more. You will receive your own ‘scoby’ with starter tea and a pack of black tea, so you can get started brewing at home.
When: Sunday, 26th November, 2-3.30pm.
Where: Box Hill South.
Cost: $49.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Christmas cupcake decorating

What: Amaze your family this Christmas with your own handmade cupcakes. Learn how to decorate with fondant and butter cream and create a special work of art.
When: Thursday, 7th December, 1-4pm.
Where: Coburg Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Bush foods & herbs for courtyards & balconies

What: What you will learn: which native produce-plants are suitable for growing in pots and small spaces; what to harvest and when; and how to use bush foods and herbs to flavour your dishes. Presented by Karen Sutherland, of Edible Eden Design. Australian native plants have flavour and aroma profiles unlike any others, and can be easily incorporated into your kitchen. Also, a wide range of them can be grown in Melbourne in pots or small and difficult spaces. In this class, which is ideal for those with limited garden space or even just a courtyard or balcony, you will explore the world of edible native Australian plants that are easy to grow in such spaces, attractive to look at and can easily add flavour and interest to your home-cooked dishes.All plants covered are suitable for Melbourne’s climate, and will be discussed in terms of how best to use and grow them in your garden.
When: Thursday, 7th December, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art & Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Raw living whole foods with Valentina Rise

What: What you will learn: basics of raw food; make guilt free treats; and learn what super foods are. You will discuss the nutritional benefits of superfoods, and how introducing more raw (natural plant-based) foods into your daily eating regimes can assist in your over-all health. Eating the right foods can help with reducing stress, anxiety and depressive states of being, increase your immunity and gut health and bring greater clarity into your lives. You will learn raw food cooking skills and get to feast on many different foods from savory to sweet healthy treats (e.g. raw pad thai, raw stir fry, raw caramel slice, raw ice cream, raw lemon slice and raw cheesecake). No refined white processed sugars or products will be used. You will gain knowledge on the best natural sweeteners and produce to use to assist in optimal health.
When: Saturday, 9th December, 3-6pm.
Where: CERES.
Cost: $70.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Indigenous plants for food and medicine

What: What you will learn: traditional Indigenous lifestyles and healing practices pre European settlement; traditional ways of using various Indigenous plants for medicinal purposes; and promising new research into their potential medical applications. Presented by Gaby Harris. Indigenous Australians have been using native plants and animals for tens of thousands of years as sources of food and medicine. With European settlement much of this knowledge was lost or ignored, but there is now growing interest in relearning these traditional healing methods. More research is being carried out to see how we can grow, harvest and utilise our Indigenous plants for foods, medicines, cosmetics and more. This class will introduce you to some of the well-known, as well as some more obscure, Indigenous Australian plants, teach you how they were once used, and how you can use them now. You will be able to see, smell and taste a variety of these amazing plants and learn where you can find them and how to cook with them.
When: Saturday, 16th December, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art & Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

During October
During November

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.