I always eat my tacos over a tortilla. That way when stuff falls out, BOOM, another taco.
The last word on the first ever Australian food swap
April Muirden, the organiser of the Urban Orchard Food Swap at CERES, has written in to confirm her agreement with the timeline presented in last week’s newsletter and to provide a link to a 2007 article for Sustainable Melbourne written by the Urban Orchard swap coordinator at the time (Brad Shone).
Click here to read a compilation of the various contributions about the history of the food swaps from the last few newsletters.
Want to become involved with the Eltham Food Swap?
The Eltham Food Swap (held on the 4th Sunday of each month) needs some more helpers. They would be happy with people volunteering as much or as little time as they want. If potentially interested, contact Fay Loveland by email. If you don’t know what a food swap is, read about them on our website or watch Fay explaining them.
More zucchini recipes
From your reaction to the last few newsletters, it is clear that zucchini recipes are popular. So, here are 19 more recipes from Good Food. Not local, but still Australian.
Too cute to eat
A friend of mine shared this picture on Facebook. Then I noticed that it had been shared 250,000 times(!). So, I thought you might like it.
Doctor Google – a brand new poem about veggies by newsletter reader Gillian Essex
Gillian’s poem is actually rather good and it is well worth your time reading it properly. Or, even better, get someone to read it out to you.
It’s thanks to Dr Google
That I’m feeling no alarm
Though my symptoms are quite strange
They’re doing me no harm
I type and click and let
Doc G quickly diagnose
My complaints – she lets me know
Why I’m on the nose
I thought that eating home grown veg
Would mean a healthy life
But when I ingest artichokes
My belly’s in such strife
It makes me look quite pregnant
My gut is wracked with pain
In order to obtain relief
I fart and fart again
The trouble is when I grow veg
I eat them to excess
And my digestion cannot cope
In ways I now confess
Although it is embarrassing
To talk of wind and pee
Thanks to Doctor Google
I know it’s not just me!
Doc Google says it’s beetroot
That makes my pee turn pink
And also says asparagusGives it that awful stink
I’m missing certain enzymes
To help me cope with this
The evidence is damning
It’s right there in my piss
And eating carrots gives my skin
An obvious orange hue
So tell me Dr Google
What am I to do?
It seems the dietary guidelines
For me are topsy-turvy
I need to eat 5 fruits 2 veg
But at least I won’t get scurvy
If you prefer short poems, here is a Haiku from the 17th Century:
Coolness of the melons
flecked with mud
in the morning dew.
To celebrate Gillian’s poem, and previous poems from Pam Jenkins, we have established a food poetry web page. I happen to know that there are several other newsletter readers who are poets – why don’t you submit a local food poem?
Making bread and butter cucumbers and pickling beetroot and carrot
What: Presented by Robin Gale-Baker, this workshop will teach you how to prepare the soil, choose what to grow, raise your own seedlings and provide information on how to have a successful autumn/winter vegetable garden. When: Friday, 20th January, 1-2.30pm. Where: Macleod Organic Community Garden. Cost: $15. Enquiries / Bookings: Sustainable Macleod by email. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Summer pruning with Craig Castree
What: Go along and learn how to summer prune your fruit trees. Learn why pruning in winter is not a current practice. Glean gardening tips on how to reduce your water bills and increase the success of your garden at the same time. Keep your garden thriving over the warmer months to maximise production. There will be a food swap at the same venue from 10am to 2pm. When: Saturday, 4th February, 10.30am-midday. Where: PepperTree Place, Coburg. Cost: $15. Enquiries / Bookings: A. Watson by phone (0438 507694) or email. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Palestinian cooking workshop
What: Led by nutritionist Rasha Tayeh. In this workshop, you will explore wild herbs and liver & digestive health. You will: cook a delicious vegan dish (tasting/light snack included) and discuss nutritional benefits of selected wild herbs, or ‘edible weeds’; and learn about traditional herbal infusions for detoxification, cleansing and good digestion. Participants will go home with: recipes of the meal shared on the day & notes on how to look after the liver and digestive system; and a deeper understanding and curiosity for delicious foods from Palestine and the use of wild edible herbs. The workshop is limited to 12 spaces. When: Saturday, 4th February, 2.30-4.30pm. Where: CERES. Cost: $65. Enquiries: Rasha Tayeh by phone (0403 843923) or email. Bookings:Trybooking. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Indian Punjabi cooking workshop
What: Learn how to cook a healthy North West Indian vegetarian meal from scratch using authentic ingredients. The menu will include: daal (spiced lentils); raita (yoghurt based dip); basmati rice with peas and cumin seeds; dry roasted poppadums; a milk based dessert; aloo saag (spinach and potato); and chapatti (flat bread). Tutor Taariq Hassan. Taariq has travelled extensively in India and Pakistan and is proficient and enthusiastic at cooking traditional Indian cuisine. He enjoys sharing his skills and knowledge with others, is a qualified teacher and has also completed a Cert IV in training and assessment. When: Wednesday, 15th February, 6.30-8.30pm. Where: Living & Learning Nillumbik at Diamond Creek. Cost: $92. Enquiries: Living & Learning Nillumbik by phone (9433 3744) or email. Bookings:their website. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Italian cooking workshop (pasta)
What: A tasty three-course menu, including pasta, will be prepared in this hands-on workshop and enjoyed afterwards. Tutor Janice Mariani. Janice spent 30 years cooking for the locals and celebrities in a restaurant amidst the hills of Umbria, Italy. When: Saturday, 18th February, 10am-1pm. Where: Living & Learning Nillumbik at Panton Hill. Cost: $72. Enquiries: Living & Learning Nillumbik by phone (9433 3744) or email. Bookings:their website. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Extreme composting and Macleod Organic Community Garden tour
What: Presented by Marina Bistrin. Which weeds and prunings are easy to compost immediately? Learn various methods of pre-treating resilient weeds. Try coffee husk and coffee grounds compost additions to speed up the composting process. Plus a half-hour tour of Macleod Organic Community Garden included with a cuppa. View the polytunnel, wicking beds, compost bays, deep-ripped orchard beds, shelter roof water-collection and innovative gardening methods. When: Saturday, 18th February, 1.30-3pm. Where: Macleod Organic Community Garden. Cost: $15. Enquiries: Sustainable Macleod by email. Bookings:Trybooking. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Preparing an autumn/winter vegetable garden
What: Presented by Robin Gale-Baker, this workshop will teach you how to prepare the soil, choose what to grow, raise your own seedlings and provide information on how to have a successful autumn/winter vegetable garden. When: Saturday, 25th February, 1.30-3.30pm. Where: Macleod Organic Community Garden. Cost: $15. Enquiries: Sustainable Macleod by email. Bookings:Trybooking. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Sourdough bread making workshop
What: Tutor Jenna Farrington-Sear. This workshop will cover basic theory as well as the tactile pleasure of all the steps of making bread from milled flour. Suitable for both novices and those who want to expand their bread making repertoire. Topics to be covered: the essential ingredients and tools of the trade; the principal steps of bread making; Baker’s percentage and hydration; mixing, kneading and folding dough; shaping loaves, scoring and baking; and maintaining a starter. You will take home: a piece of dough which can be baked at home; and a sourdough starter. When: Saturday, 4th March and Saturday, 1st April, both 10am-1pm. Where: Living & Learning Nillumbik at Panton Hill. Cost: $59. Enquiries: Living & Learning Nillumbik by phone (9433 3744) or email. Bookings:their website. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Tomato passata – the traditional way
What: What you will learn: the traditional way to preserve the seasonal bounty of tomatoes into bottles of preserved tomato passata; about preserving safely for long-term storage; and how to use different types of equipment for best results. What you will get: morning and afternoon coffees with traditional Italian biscotti; lunch of pasta with sauce made from the first pressings of the tomatoes; fully hands-on experience for better learning; and a box of tomatoes each to process on the day and all the resulting bottles or jars of passata made with the contents of the box – usually 12-14 bottles. You are invited to join them in their family home in ‘doing the tomatoes’, as the day is affectionately known. Uou will experience the whole process as you take part and learn about the preserving aspect of ‘doing the tomatoes’ as well as take home at least 12 bottles of sauce once they have been processed. When: Sunday, 12th March, 9.30am-3pm. Where: Donvale. Cost: $150. Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email. Bookings / Further information:WeTeachMe.
Bees in the burbs…
What: A comprehensive and instructional demonstration facilitated by expert apiarist, Peter Dyer from Backyard Honey. The workshop will cover: what you need to know before you begin beekeeping; the equipment required; and detail on troubleshooting and how to manage healthy bee hives. Complete the experience with a custom-pairing menu of pure raw unheated Melbourne and Victorian honeys with The Craft and Co’s very own housemade wine, cheese and prosciutto. When: Thursday, 16th March, 6-9pm. Where: The Craft & Co, Collingwood. Cost: $65. Enquiries: Tarsha by phone (9417 4755) or email. Bookings / Further information:Sticky Tickets.
Growing veggies is easier than you think
What: What you will learn: how to bottle fruits and vegetables for future use; how to make jams and pickles; and how to select and re-use suitable jars, and how to sterilise them. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; small jars of all the preserves prepared on the day; tastings; and preserving Basics booklet. Presented by Maria Ciavarella. Learn how to preserve fruit and veggies safely, using a variety of techniques. No matter whether you have a produce garden and want to do something with your excess or whether you want to make the most of the seasonal abundance at its freshest, learning how to preserve extends the taste and value of your home-grown produce. No preserving background is assumed as you go through techniques on how to prevent food spoilage using bottling, jam making, pickling and dehydrating. As well, there will be a hands-on component which will include making jam with frozen berries, a Middle-Eastern inspired vegetable pickle, and bottled seasonal fruit. When: Thursday, 16th March, 6.30-9pm. Where: BAAG, Bulleen. Cost: $45. Enquiries: BAAG by phone (8850 3030). Bookings / Further information:WeTeachMe.
Thai cooking workshop
What: A tasty three-course menu will be prepared in this hands-on workshop and enjoyed afterwards. Tutor Duang Tengtrirat. When: Saturday, 18th March, 10am-1pm. Where: Living & Learning Nillumbik at Panton Hill. Cost: $69. Enquiries: Living & Learning Nillumbik by phone (9433 3744) or email. Bookings:their website. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Kick start your Winter veggie patch
What: What you will learn: how to incorporate crop rotation and other techniques for pest control; how to prepare your soil for maximum benefit after summer vegies, including how to do pH tests and its significance; and great veggies to grow over winter and how to get them started from seed. What you will get: handouts with all the information covered in the workshop; seeds sown on the day to take home and nurture; and a bottle top waterer for watering seedlings. Learn how to maximise the productivity from your veggie patch using all natural techniques, including crop rotation cycles. Then look at the vegies to grow over the cooler months, how to start them from seed and how to look after them so that they produce well for you. You will be required to do a little bit of preparation for the workshop so that you get the most out of it on the day. When: Saturday, 18th March, 1-4pm. Where: Donvale. Cost: $50. Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email. Bookings / Further information:WeTeachMe.
The Melbourne Tomato Festival
What: The Melbourne Tomato Festival is a gathering of local farmers selling produce, speakers, agriculturalists, cooking demonstrations, Italian food, artisan producers, special guests, history, workshops, entertainment and passata making. When: Sunday, 19th March, 10am-4pm. Where: All Nations Park, Northcote. Cost: $25. Enquiries: The Melbourne Tomato Festival by phone (0484 242604) or email. Bookings:their website. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Italian cooking workshop (gnocchi)
What: A tasty three-course menu, including gnocchi, will be prepared in this hands-on workshop and enjoyed afterwards. Tutor Janice Mariani. Janice spent 30 years cooking for the locals and celebrities in a restaurant amidst the hills of Umbria, Italy. When: Saturday, 25th March, 10am-1pm. Where: Living & Learning Nillumbik at Panton Hill. Cost: $72. Enquiries: Living & Learning Nillumbik by phone (9433 3744) or email. Bookings:their website. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Why was the mushroom invited to the party? Because he is a fun guy.
Was the Urban Orchard Food Swap at CERES the first ever Australian food swap?
As you know from last week’s discussion, the Montmorency food swap started in 2010, and was preceded by the Greensborough one. Meredith Plain, the organiser of the Veggie Swap at Bulleen Art & Garden Nursery, has written in to say that their food swap started in January 2009, just before that of Greensborough. She goes on to say that they were inspired to establish the swap by a visit to the Fitzroy Urban Harvest Food Swap in 2008. She has also provided a link to a 2008 article in The Age which discusses the establishment of a food swap in Footscray. Inter alia, that article says that the Urban Orchard Food Swap at CERES started in 2004 and was Melbourne’s first.
Following Meredith’s email, I spoke to Peta Christensen, the organiser of the Fitzroy swap. She confirmed that she, Glenda Lindsay and others started the swap in early 2008 and went on to say: “I think it is safe to say that CERES were the first official food swap followed by Fitzroy. My husband Chris Ennis actually started the Urban Orchard idea at CERES after noticing a lot of fruit from trees being wasted around our neighbourhood in Thornbury. He started thinking that perhaps the people who planted the trees had moved on and a new generation of people had moved in who didn’t know the value of their trees, how to care for the trees, or what to do with all the fruit. He wanted to develop an easy way to re-distribute that food and support people to keep their fruit trees and think of them as an asset rather than a burden. After talking to people at CERES, the idea for the Urban Orchard swap table was born. The CERES model is more about people dropping off their produce and taking something else whilst they are at CERES doing their Saturday shopping whereas the Fitzroy Urban Harvest is more about creating a monthly event that would bring people together with the sole purpose of swapping produce and also catching up with other gardeners in their neighbourhood.” Peta also sent me their original 2008 flyer (pictured right)!
So, the timeline is:
2004: Urban Orchard Food Swap at CERES.
2008: Fitzroy, then Footscray.
2009: Bulleen Art & Garden, then Greensborough.
Thanks to Peta Christensen, Meredith Plain, Julie French and Katherine Barling for taking the trouble of explaining the history. And also thanks for organising such successful food swaps for so many years!
Fay Loveland and Helen Simpson have both written in to say that Taffy’s on Looker in Montmorency is another cafe in a residential area and that it was previously a milk bar.
Do you currently have any home-grown surpluses?
At the Eltham Farmers’ Market on 12th February, we plan (as usual) to have a community market stall, where one or two people sell their surplus produce at a stall provided by us at zero cost to yourselves. However, no one has yet come forward to be on the stall. If you are going to have a surplus in February and want to combine some conversation with the public with making a bit of money, contact us by phone (0416 203067) or email. Read about the initiative here.
Part time agriculture traineeship opportunity in Strathewen
This position offers you the opportunity to commence your two-year Traineeship in Agriculture and Cattle working on a small farm in Strathewen; about a 1 hour drive north from Melbourne or south from Seymour. The farm produces a wide variety of vegetables, fruit and eggs without the use of synthetic chemicals. They also breed beef cattle, sheep and chickens. More info on the Sugarloaf Produce Facebook page
No experience is necessary for this position; however, the successful applicant must be committed to biological farming techniques and caring for animals. The successful applicant will also need a drivers licence and own reliable car to get to the workplace.
Getting involved in the ‘greening the mall’ project in Box Hill
You might have read about Permablitz 195 (Box Hill Central Shopping Centre) in last week’s newsletter. That event, which is booked out, is about the temporary installation of wicking beds in the Box Hill Mall. But The Neighbourhood Project are now looking for people to get involved in the wider project. For example, watering and maintaining the beds thru the summer and autumn and/or presenting a short talk or workshop about sustainable gardening topics for other interested community members. If you would potentially like to participate, contact Daniel Vincent-Smith by phone (9296 6269) or email.
Our Grub Hub
Our Grub Hub is a buy-local initiative partnering Victorian producers with local food enterprises. More specifically, it encourages Boroondara’s cafes, restaurants and food businesses to develop ongoing produce orders with stallholders at the Boroondara Farmers’ Market. In exchange, participants are rewarded with increased promotional and marketing opportunities. Read more…
What: Go along to this beginner’s workshop to learn the basics of backyard chicken keeping with Maria Ciavarella from My Green Garden. When: Tuesday, 28th February, 6.30-8.30pm. Where: Kew Library. Cost: free. Enquiries: Diana Vidovic from Boroondara Council by phone (9278 4347) or email. Bookings:Eventbrite. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Basic DIY Fowlers Vacola food preserving workshop
What: Learn all the basics about how to preserve seasonal fruit and veg with your Fowlers Vacola preserving kit. Includes tomatoes, stone fruits and basic pasta sauce. Presented by Lucinda Flynn. Bookings essential. When: Tuesday, 28th February, 7-9pm. Where: Going Green Solutions, Hurstbridge. Cost: free. Enquiries / bookings: Going Green Solutions by phone (9718 0126) or email. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Sustainable living and gardening
What: Each month, an experienced facilitator will present on sustainable living and gardening topics such as zero waste, worm farms, keeping backyard chickens, natural soil management, responsible weed control, composting and sustainable garden design. When: Wednesday, 1st March, 7-9pm. Where: Watsonia Neighbourhood House. Cost: gold coin. Enquiries: Watsonia Neighbourhood House by phone (9434 6717) or email. Bookings: just turn up. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Sowing and saving seeds
What: What you will learn: how to successfully save seeds from your veggies to re-use next season; seed sowing techniques; and tips and tricks for success. What you will get: seasonal seeds sown to nurture at home; biodegradable pots to use and keep; and seeds harvested on the night to store and use in the future. Go along and be inspired about growing edible plants the organic, old-fashioned and most inexpensive way. Learn how to confidently grow brand new plants from seed, and expand the range and variety of plants available to you. Seed catalogues will be your new passion. You will be able to grow for yourself to enhance the table of your family and friends. Learn how to also select the best seeds to save from your own crops and how to harvest and store the seeds. This workshop is as hands-on as possible. Presented by Maria Ciaverella. When: Thursday, 2nd March, 6.30-9pm. Where: Bulleen Art & Garden Nursery Cost: $45. Enquiries: Bulleen Art & Garden Nursery by phone (8850 3030). Bookings / further information:WeTeachMe.
Children’s garden and worm farm
What: See their new children’s garden. Plant their seedlings and learn about their worm farm. Fun, stories and songs for everyone. When: 4th March, 11am-midday. Where: Whittlesea Library Cost: free. Enquiries: Coralie Kouvelas by phone (9716 3028) or email. Bookings: just turn up. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Chinese cooking with Jenny
What: Join Jenny Chua, from Cooking with Jenny in Melbourne, as she explores some favourite authentic Chinese cooking techniques. Learn how to make dumplings, fried rice, noodles and more. When: 4th March, 11am-midday. Where: Doncaster Library. Cost: free. Enquiries: Doncaster Library by phone (9877 8500). Bookings:their website. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Soil improvement workshop
What: Learn about the soil food web and how you can recycle household and garden organic waste by setting up a worm farm or backyard compost system. This workshop would suit learners wanting to recycle household and garden organic waste in order improve soils. Please wear sturdy shoes and dress for the outdoors as part of the workshop will be hands-on around the farm. The tutor Dianne Gordon is a member of the environmental education team at Edendale. When: Saturday, 4th March, 2-4.30pm. Where: Edendale. Cost: $15. Enquiries: Edendale by phone (9433 3711) or email. Bookings / further information:Edendale website.
Fermentation – an introduction to lactofermented fruit
What: What you will learn: all about lactoferments; improve your culinary knowledge; and how to ferment your own fruit. What you will get: recipes and samples. If you have tried your hand at sauerkraut and other vegetable ferments, fermenting fruits might be the next step in your fermenting journey. In this workshop, Monique will introduce you to next level fermenting. You will be sampling some fermented salsa/relish variations, discussing the subtle differences between fermenting low sugar vegetables and high sugar vegetables. You will be walked through the process before making your own batch to take home and ferment on your bench top. When: Saturday, 4th March, 3-5pm. Where: Ceres. Cost: $55. Enquiries: Ceres by phone (9389 0100). Bookings / further information:WeTeachMe.
Beekeeping – a taster
What: Learn about one of the earth’s most amazing insects and its millennia-old bond with flowering plants. Honey bee-pollinated plants account for a large proportion of our diet. Understand the threats facing the bee and how these may affect our future food security. Consider how you can assist the bee by keeping a few hives and in return make your garden and those of your surrounding community more productive. Obtain answers to your questions on the practical aspects of beekeeping and discover why beekeeping is a relaxing and a rewarding hobby for all the family. The tutor Bob Owen has been keeping bees for 15 years and is the owner of Bob’s Beekeeping Supplies in Eltham. See Bob’s Beekeeping website. When: Sunday, 5th March, 1-3.30pm. Where: Edendale. Cost: $15. Enquiries: Edendale by phone (9433 3711) or email. Bookings / further information:Edendale website.
The art of espalier
What: What you will learn: growing espaliered fruit trees; different techniques to make the most of all available space for espalier; and improve your general gardening skills. “Go vertical” is the cry when garden space is limited. Gardening in two dimensions is what espalier is about and this class will cover the different types and how to get them started and then continue to train them into the desired shape. Topics covered are suitable fruit trees, pruning and training techniques. Presented by Diana Cotter. When: Thursday, 9th March, 6.30-9pm. Where: Bulleen Art & Garden Nursery Cost: $45. Enquiries: Bulleen Art & Garden Nursery by phone (8850 3030). Bookings / further information:WeTeachMe.
Was Montmorency the fourth ever Australian food swap?
In the last newsletter (December 14), I asked whether Montmorency was the second ever Australian food swap (after Greensborough). Well, Julie French, erstwhile organiser of the Montmorency food swap, has written in to say that the answer is definitely ‘no’: “There were other food swaps operating in Melbourne prior to the Greensborough one. CERES had one operating in 2008, or probably a lot earlier through their Urban Orchard project, and there was at least another one going around the same time that I was aware of, in the Moreland area I think. Montmorency had a Food Growers Group operating between 2007 and 2009 (started by yours truly) that met monthly to discuss food gardening and share seedlings and (occasionally) excess produce. The Montmorency swap started following a public meeting in November 2009 to discuss Transition Towns. At that meeting, a number of key interest areas were identified, and small groups were formed to discuss what actions could be taken to progress those interests. Food was, of course, a topic of great interest to a number of people. A small group met (at my place) to talk about what some of the issues were under this broad topic, and found they were myriad and quite overwhelming. There had been some press about food swaps in inner Melbourne and Rachel Bishop, who had started the Greensborough swap, explained how easy it was to get one of these swaps going. It was decided this was a course of action that could be taken immediately without the need for too much planning or resources. Rachel lent us some signage for our first one, which was held at Montmorency Primary School on Sunday 26 September, 2010.”
In the last newsletter, I also gave a link to an article in The Weekly Review about a milk bar that has been turned into a cafe (see article right). The cafe is called Weidlich Food Store, it is located in Eltham North and I paid it a visit over the Christmas period. The food I chose (modestly called a spinach and ricotta roll but actually a lot more complicated and exotic than that) and the drink (a banana smoothie) were both yummy, the ambience was good and the service was excellent (and they have free wifi). But the reason for mentioning the cafe again is that there are two interesting ideas underlying its development which have potential wider applicability. The first idea is the placement of a cafe in a housing area rather than in a shopping centre – for a number of people, it will therefore be their closest cafe. The second idea is the potential over time for developing the place into something of a community hub. Arguably, The Third Place Cafe in Wollert is trying to do something similar. If you know of any other cafes doing similar things, email me.
Get Fresh Meats are no more
Get Fresh Meats, who had a shop in Eltham and were also a stallholder at Eltham Farmers’ Market, have apparently ceased trading. Park Orchards-based Yummaz have also stopped being a stallholder at markets.
Some local food organisations in the news
That’s Amore Cheese and Montifiore Cheese both featured in the 14th December Whittlesea edition of The Leader.
David Stutt (Hildebrand Grove) from Cottles Bridge:
And George Apted (Shaws Road Winery) from Arthurs Creek:
That brings the total number of local food producers for whom there are videos up to 23, of which 8 have been produced by Local Food Connect. Have a look at our collation of all 23 videos.
Some guidelines for storing summer produce
In the latest Home Harvest FEASTival newsletter, Duang Tengtrirat, from Real Food Catering, provided a few tips on how to store your summer fruits and vegetables so that they last longer and taste their best. Keep your veggies cool. The fridge is your friend – know how to store your produce.
Rule #1: Keep fruit and veggies separated. Most fruits and berries emit ethylene gas which can cause your vegetables to spoil and change flavour. Keep them in separate drawers if refrigerated.
Rule #2: Bag them first. Loosely bag or wrap greens, broccoli, capsicum, cucumber etc before placing them in the fridge. Keep sweetcorn in its husks until ready to use.
Rule #3: Do not store root vegetables with their greens. The greens will take moisture out of the roots so cut them off first and store them separately.
Rule #4: Remove rubber bands, twisties or any other things that choke your veggies. Store them without any tightening objects for better circulation.
Rule #5: As a rule it is best NOT to wash veggies before storing because extra water creates dampness which is not ideal. (However, washing lettuce, spinach and salad greens makes it easy to use them. So, wash them and make sure to dry them before storing. This will make it easy to make salads and you will eat more of them.)
Click here to read various other tips contributed by newsletter readers.
George the Farmer, DirtGirl and Costa the Garden Gnome
DirtGirl and Costa the Garden Gnome don’t appear to have a clear aim(!). But here is one of their better posts (on the subject of gutter gardens) and here is their YouTube channel.
And, finally, here is the YouTube channel of the person who arguably started the recent trend of singing about vegetables, Charlie Mgee.
The events below include all the February events that I’m aware of plus those January events that I have become aware of since the 14th December newsletter.
Gardening with kids
What: What you will learn: how to grow fresh produce in your own backyard and have heaps of fun doing it; how common household items can be reused in the garden; and how ‘good bugs’ can help you to look after your veggie patch. What you will get: seasonal vegetable seeds and/or seedlings to grow at home; detailed course notes; and booklet of gardening ideas and activities to try at home. Presented by Nicole Griffiths. Growing food is a great way for children to connect with the natural environment and to develop an appreciation for the food that they eat. It also happens to be heaps of fun. In this hands-on class, you will explore some easy and inexpensive ways to grow food at home, regardless of whether you have an acre of land or just a windowsill. Children (and grown-ups) will get their hands dirty with practical gardening and craft activities using recycled and re-purposed objects. By the end of the class, each student will have made a variety of goodies to grow and use in their gardens at home. The class is suitable for children aged 5 to 10 and children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Please note that the class cost covers both a child and 1 accompanying adult. When: Tuesday, 17th January, 10am-midday. Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen. Cost: $35. Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030). Bookings / Further information: We Teach Me.
‘The mini gardener’ summer veggie/herb garden workshop
What: Keep the kids entertained with this fun, fully facilitated, workshop. All materials provided. Suitable for primary school aged children. Boys and girls will make their own layered chocolate brownie jar to take home, bake and enjoy. The recipe is included. When: Wednesday, 18th January, 10.30-11.30am. Where: Rivers of Yarrambat. Cost: $27. Enquiries: Rivers of Yarrambat by phone (9436 3215) or email. Bookings:Eventbrite. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Permablitz 195 (Box Hill Central Shopping Centre)
What: This is a blitz with a difference – they will be helping The Neighbourhood Project beautify the Box Hill Mall area with wicking beds full of edibles. Adding beds to this currently under-used space will help promote local community and spread awareness of ways to grow and share local food. Apart from beautification, the project is an opportunity to demonstrate the practicality and benefit of green urban space that helps to bridge the disconnection between people and their food sources. This is to be the first such project in Box Hill, with similar initiatives to be rolled out in local community centres – including verge plantings. Tasks for the day: building 6 wicking beds; and planting them out. Workshops: how to make a wicking bed; propagation; and companion planting. When: Saturday, 21st January, 10am-3pm. Where: Box Hill Central Shopping Centre. Cost: free. Enquiries: Permablitz Melbourne by email. Bookings / Further information:Permablitz website.
Edendale young farmers
What: A small group of children, 9- to 12-years-old, will have the opportunity to help Edendale’s farmers with the morning animal chores and experience what it is like to be a farmer. They will get up close to many of the farm animals and help in the daily care and feeding of these animals. The children will join in with a range of activities, including: letting out and feeding the poultry, collecting eggs and cleaning waterers; goat milking demonstration and feeding the goats; pony poo pickup and feeding the worm farms; hay feeding sheep, lambs, and Taffy the Jersey calf; and handling the guinea pigs and cleaning their cages. The children will need to come dressed in suitable clothing including long pants and solid footwear such as an old pair of joggers. A hat, raincoat, sunscreen and water bottle will also be required. A light morning tea will be provided. The children should understand that they are not here to play with the animals but are participating in important farm chores. When: Wednesday, 25th January, 9am-midday. Where: Edendale. Cost: $30. Enquiries: Edendale by phone (9433 3711) or email. Bookings / Further information:Edendale website.
‘The mini chef’ layered chocolate brownie jar workshop
What: Keep the kids entertained with this fun, fully facilitated, workshop. All materials provided. Suitable for primary school aged children. Boys and girls will plant up their very own veggie & herb bowl to take home. In the months to come, they will be able to harvest and eat their own homegrown produce. When: Wednesday, 25th January, 10.30-11.30am. Where: Rivers of Yarrambat. Cost: $27. Enquiries: Rivers of Yarrambat by phone (9436 3215) or email. Bookings:Eventbrite. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Preserving the Summer bounty: bottled fruit, jams, pickles and relishes
What: What you will learn: how to select and re-use suitable jars and how to sterilise them; 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; Preserving Basics booklet, authored by My Green Garden; and tastings of other preserves made by My Green Garden. Learn how to preserve the abundance of summer 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 as you go through the science of how to prevent food spoilage using the preserving methods of bottling, jam-making, pickling and making relishes or chutneys using seasonal produce. Dehydrating will also be demonstrated. You will cover the jars and lids to use, safe storage and use. The workshop is fully hands-on, where you are involved from the processes from start to finish. When: Thursday, 2nd February and Saturday, 4th February, both 10am-1.15pm. Where: Donvale. Cost: $70. Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email. Bookings / Further information:We Teach Me.
What: What you will learn: how to assess your site’s potential; different methods of water capture, storage and usage; and how to maximse the impact of each drop that you collect. Presented by Diana Cotter. Gardens need water to survive and thrive, which can pose a real problem in a country as dry as ours. However, with a little bit of DIY ingenuity, you can get the most out of your plants even if it hasn’t rained in weeks. This class aims to give you a thorough understanding of how to garden effectively and efficiently with our most precious resource: water. As well, you’ll be given an overview of the many options available to manage storm water, from developing you soil through to creating rain gardens, which will help you to implement a number of different water-saving strategies in order to better create a sustainable and beautiful garden. When: Thursday, 2nd February, 6.30-9pm. Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen. Cost: $45. Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030). Bookings / Further information:We Teach Me.
Natural pest control with companion planting
What: What you will learn: learn which plants to grow together, and which ones not to; learn how to solve many common garden problems naturally; and learn how to construct ‘plant guilds’ (groups of plants that grow much better together). Presented by Angelo Eliades. With companion planting, by knowing which plants to grow together and which ones not to, you can grow stronger, healthier and more productive plants, improve soil quality, and reduce pests and diseases in your garden. Learn which companion plants to add to your garden to solve many common garden problems naturally, and find out how to construct ‘plant guilds’ (groups of plants that grow much better together) for more abundant harvests. When: Saturday, 4th February, 9.30am-midday. Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen. Cost: $45. Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030). Bookings / Further information:We Teach Me.
What: Salads – share recipes and conversation. When: Tuesday, 7th February, 10.30-11.30am. Where: Whittlesea Library. Cost: free. Enquiries: Whittlesea Library by phone (9716 3028) or email. Bookings: just turn up. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Introduction to beekeeping at home
What: Learn about keeping bees in your own backyard. Join Peter Dyer, from Backyard Honey, as he shares his many years of experience as a bee keeper in Melbourne. Peter will walk you through the essential information you should know before considering keeping bees at home. You will also have a chance to watch live bees in action in Peter’s demonstration hive. This session is designed for beginners so no prior knowledge is required. When: Wednesday, 8th February, 6.30-8pm. Where: Box Hill Library. Cost: free. Bookings:website. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Why do bees matter?
What: Learn about life in a bee hive with this demonstration by expert urban apiarists, Backyard Honey. The session will include a live bee display, pure raw unheated honey tastings and expert apiary advice about bee-keeping and planting for healthy bees. It will highlight the important role bees play in agriculture and pollination and will include: life in a healthy bee hive; the important role of bees in crop pollination and food security; and gardening for healthy bees. Complete the experience with a tasting platter of honey paired to The Craft and Co’s very own housemade wine, cheese and prosciutto. When: Thursday, 9th February, 6-9pm. Where: The Craft & Co, Collingwood. Cost: $75. Enquiries: Tarsha by phone (9417 4755) or email. Bookings:Sticky Tickets. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Mouth watering sweet and savoury preserves
What: What you will learn: how to bottle fruits and vegetables for future use; how to make jams and pickles; and how to select and re-use suitable jars, and how to sterilise them. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; small jars of all the preserves prepared on the day; tastings; and Preserving Basics booklet. Presented by Maria Ciavarella. Learn how to preserve fruit and veggies safely, using a variety of techniques. No matter whether you have a produce garden and want to do something with your excess or whether you want to make the most of the seasonal abundance at its freshest, learning how to preserve extends the taste and value of your home-grown produce. No preserving background is assumed as you go through techniques on how to prevent food spoilage using bottling, jam making, pickling and dehydrating. As well, there will be a hands-on component which will include making jam with frozen berries, a Middle-Eastern inspired vegetable pickle, and bottled seasonal fruit. When: Thursday, 9th February, 6.30-9pm. Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen. Cost: $45. Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030). Bookings / Further information:We Teach Me.
Preserving know-how: ways with tomatoes
What: What you will learn: how to preserve the seasonal bounty of tomatoes in a variety of different methods, including bottling, drying, sauces and savoury condiments; how to select and re-use suitable jars and how to sterilise them; and the basic science behind different preserving techniques so that your preserves remain safe to eat. What you will get: recipes all of the preserves made; Preserving Basics booklet, authored by My Green Garden; small jars of the preserves made on the day: passata, peeled tomatoes, ketchup, chutney and pickles; and tastings of other tomato preserves. Growing tomatoes can be incredibly rewarding and their productivity can leave you with a glut that demands to be turned into delicious sauces and preserves. And even if you don’t grow them, you can always make the most of the seasonal varieties available over this period to make your own bottles and jars to last you through the winter. In this workshop, you will cover different preserving techniques, including bottling, dehydrating, making sauces, passata, pickles and chutneys, as well as some traditional Italian techniques with tomatoes. You will get to taste and then take home all of the preserves made on the day. When: Satruday, 11th February and Wednesday, 15th February, both 10am-1.15pm. Where: Donvale. Cost: $70. Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email. Bookings / Further information:We Teach Me.
All things chocolate
What: Join Bruce, from Chocolatier Australia, to learn about our favourite food. Enjoy plenty of tastings! When: Monday, 13th February, 11am-midday. Where: Rosanna Library. Cost: free. Enquiries: Rosanna Library by phone (9459 6171). Bookings: just turn up. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
DIY food dehydrating workshop
What: Learn the basics of how to dehydrate foods to have on hand all year round. Includes tomatoes, apples, pears, fruit roll ups and more, including tips on where to get bulk/seconds, local, seasonal fruit and veg. Presented by Lucinda Flynn. Bookings essential, by phone or email. When: Tuesday, 14th February, 7-9pm. Where: Going Green Solutions, Hurstbridge. Cost: free. Enquiries / Bookings: Going Green Solutions by phone (9718 0126) or email. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
What: What you will learn: care and maintenance of potted produce; how to make the most of any space using pots; and using combinations of pots for great effects. Presented by Diana Cotter. Are you a renter and not allowed to dig, or are you short on space in your outdoors? Many people don’t have the space for a traditional garden of their own but would still like to be able to grow some ornamental plants, herbs and veggies and maybe even some fruit. If this is you, don’t despair! In this class, you will learn how to grow plants in both simple and more elaborate containers, as well as learning everything you need to know about potting media, fertilising, seasonal variations and how to care for your container-grown plants. When: Thursday, 16th February, 6.30-9pm. Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen. Cost: $45. Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030). Bookings / Further information:We Teach Me.
Italian savoury preserves
What: What you will learn: how to use vegetables to make savoury preserves, Italian style; how to select suitable jars and how to sterilise them; and how to use bottling techniques to preserve sauces, ready to eat. What you will get: jars of all the preserves made on the day; recipes for the techniques covered in the workshop; tastings of preserves previously made; and vegetables prepared on the day to take home and continue the processes learnt. Italians have perfected the art of the antipasto platter, with delicious savoury pickled vegetables often made with fresh organic veggies from their own gardens. You will use many of the vegetables from the home of My Green Garden to create preserves done in the Italian style. Then you will make a tomato pasta sauce that can be preserved for future use – fast-food the Italian way! A jar of everything you make is taken home by each participant, as well as some vegetables prepped on the day to continue some processes at home. When: Friday, 17th February, 10am-1pm. Where: Donvale. Cost: $75. Enquiries: Maria Ciavarella by phone (0424 083057) or email. Bookings / Further information:We Teach Me.
Summer fruit tree maintenance
What: What you will learn: how to prune to keep trees to a manageable size; how to prune to maximise fruit production in the coming season; and keeping espaliered shapes in check. Watch and ask questions of Angelo Eliades, as he prunes both traditionally shaped trees and espaliered varieties. Convention had us pruning deciduous fruit trees in winter but now the thinking is swinging to doing it straight after fruiting, in late summer or autumn. Techniques are slightly different, so it is wise to see the pruning in action on actual trees, all at Bulleen Art & Garden. When: Saturday, 18th February, 9.30am-midday. Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen. Cost: $45. Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030). Bookings / Further information:We Teach Me.
Liquid fertiliser workshop
What: Learn how to make your own liquid fertiliser using readily available ingredients. When: Sunday, 19th February, 8.30-10am. Where: St Johns Riverside Community Garden, Heidelberg. Cost: $2. Enquiries: Katrina Philip by phone (0422 735213) or email. Bookings: just turn up. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Love food, hate waste
What: Learn to avoid food waste and use left overs more creatively in their love food, hate waste cooking demonstrations and tips sessions with local chef Duang, from Real Food Catering. When: Tuesday, 21st February, 11.30am-12.30pm. Where: Diamond Valley Library, Greensborough. Cost: free. Enquiries: Dione Fisher by phone (9434 3809) or email. Bookings: just turn up. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Preparing for the Winter harvest
What: What you will learn: crop rotation after summer veggies; growing common and uncommon winter veggies; and seed sowing techniques for winter veggies. Presented by Maria Ciavarella. It might seem a bit strange to be thinking about winter vegetables while the heat is still with us, but now is the time to start planning. This workshop will go through soil rejuvenation after your summer harvest, types of veggies that grow well over the cooler months and seed sowing in anticipation for planting. When: Thursday, 23rd February, 6.30-9pm. Where: BAAG Nursery, Bulleen. Cost: $45. Enquiries: BAAG nursery by phone (8850 3030). Bookings / Further information:We Teach Me.
What: Sue Zuber, from The Beekeepers Club, will talk about the wonder of keeping bees in your own backyard – the legal requirements as well as the practical aspect. She will cover both the basic equipment and the more advanced needs. When: Saturday, 25th February, 11am-12.30pm. Where: Whittlesea Library. Cost: free. Enquiries: Whittlesea Library by phone (9716 3028) or email. Bookings: just turn up. Further information:LFC calendar entry.
Passata making with Monique Miller
What: What you will learn: plant identification; medicinal uses for plants; and make your own remedy. Take a walk through the CERES garden beds and bring the wisdom of traditional herbal medicines into a modern context. During this workshop, you will explore traditional and modern uses of the plants and ways that you can use these plants in self-healing and make an item to take home as well as a seedling. You will learn the basic ways of making your own medicines at home both topically and internally. When: Sunday, 26th February, 10am-4pm. Where: Ceres. Cost: $75. Enquiries: Ceres by phone (9389 0100). Bookings / Further information:We Teach Me.
Council of the year – Darebin (for the second year running): for their Homemade Food & Wine Festival, their Backyard Harvest Festival and their get togethers of relevant local organisations.
Library of the year – Watsonia: for their numerous free events and their community garden.
Newspaper of the year – The Weekly Review: for their regular featuring of local food individuals and organisations.
Community group of the year – Sustainable Macleod: for Macleod Organic Community Garden, their well-attended food swaps, their annual auction and their ability to get themselves into the local paper. Honorary mention – Permablitz Melbourne: so many events, all booked out, and all portrayed with such enthusiasm.
Newsletter contributor of the year – Helen Simpson (for the second year running): for her monthly articles on how to grow various veggies and, just recently, for starting her fabulous new series interviewing local home growers. Honorary mention – Mac McVeigh: for his weekly tips, usually witty and always informative.
Most popular recurring event link – Home Harvest Manningham: these were also the best attended events (more than 100 people at each event) and had the best free food!.
Most popular event link – Heide’s kitchen garden: a bit of a surprise; perhaps some of the newsletter readers work for Heide(?).
Most popular website link – the resources page (for the second year running), mainly due to its section on horse manure (also, for the second year running). Honorary mention – the dog gallery.
Whilst writing the words above, I started thinking what a pity it is that there have been no food articles on The Common’s Facebook page since August. So, I investigated and I found the author of the articles. His name is David Murray, he lives in Eltham and I have some great news for you.
First, David has kindly consented for all of his articles to be reproduced on our website. If you haven’t read them before, you’re in for a real treat. Start with the article about beans and work your way alphabetically through the list on the righthand sidebar. If you read one article a day, that will take you all the way thru to the new year!
Second, I had missed some of David’s earlier articles in the mess of pottage that is Facebook. Here are the links to four of those articles:
Third, David has agreed to write some articles specially for this newsletter in the new year(!!). He and I have begun to think about topics but, if you have any suggestions, email me.
Mac’s tip of the week
“Although we have been a bit spoilt with rainfall and cooler temperatures, we are now officially in summer. Your plantings will soon require a greater focus on water needs and water conservation. In planning your watering requirements, make sure that you have mulched all your crops and note that:
Wilting is normal on hot days, it’s what your plants look like in the evening and morning that counts.
Morning watering is best.
Regular moisture levels is the key … to check, a finger in the soil is better than a stick.
“Until next time, remember: dirty hand are good hands.”
Everything you wanted to know about watering but were afraid to ask
Related to Mac’s tip, Robin Gale-Baker, from Sustainable Macleod, has written an article about the art of watering. As Robin says in her introduction: “Imagine for a moment that you are parched with thirst. Would a teaspoon of water quench that thirst? Or a tablespoon? Or would you need at least a full glass? Chances are that it will be the latter and yet often we do not apply the same principle to plants – especially edible plants. Under-watering can be as detrimental as over-watering. A plant, like us, needs to be adequately hydrated to stay alive but also it needs to be hydrated so it can transport nutrients (particularly calcium) to the whole of its being, and to thrive sufficiently to produce the edible parts: leaves and stems, fruit and flowers, roots and seeds. Here are some tips on what to watch out for.” The detailed discussion then covers edible plants in both pots/punnets and in the ground. Read the full article.
The local shops selling local products (cont)
Following my little article in last week’s newsletter, someone wrote to me asking for the full list of the 170 shops organised by how many local food producers they sold the products of. Maybe he was trying to call my bluff?! Anyhow, you can now find the full list on our website, together with my original words (scroll down to the end).
Was Montmorency the first ever Australian food swap?
I was at one of the newer food swaps the other day and they mentioned that they had been inspired by a visit many years ago to the Montmorency Food Swap. The Monty Food Swap started in 2009 but I happen to know that the Greenborough food swap started a bit earlier. So, the question actually is: was Montmorency the second ever Australian food swap? Anyhow, the organiser of the swap, Katherine Barling, has written in: “Now in our 7th year, our local gathering for home growers and aspiring home growers continues to inspire and connect and nurture our green thumbs. In the warmer months, it is held in the Were Street Park. It is held on the second Sunday in January (first Sunday every other month). Our next food swap will be on Sunday, 8th January, from 10.30am to 11.30am. Bring your excess – which could be silverbeet, lettuce, rhubarb, citrus, herbs, preserves or seedlings. Swap for something else and enjoy a friendly chat with other locals. Bring your visitors, children or dogs too. It’s right next to the shops and you can even have a coffee in a ceramic cup (and take the cup back afterwards). All welcome. Enquiries to Katherine 0439 652680.”
Who says milk bars are dead?
Are milk bars an inevitable (and unfortunate) casualty of ‘progress’? Not according to these two brothers.
Want both an apple tree and to support a good cause?
If so, go to the Darebin Information, Volunteer & Resource Service (DIVRS) website. The trees are $25 each. As they say “This tree directly supports the work of DIVRS who actively contribute to reducing food insecurity and increasing sustainability in the City of Darebin. This is a hand-grafted fruit tree that has been carefully grown and nurtured by volunteers. By purchasing and planting this tree you are protecting and preserving the urban orchard for your community and for future generations.”
If you ever have any bees that need rescuing …
Frankie Spranger, from Hurstbridge-based Bee Rescue, has sent in a picture of one of his latest rescues.
Dugald Noyes, Head Gardener at Heide Museum of Modern Art