Thursday, December 26, 2013

Open Gardens Across Melbourne: Fruits of the Earth (15-16 Feb 2014)

Fruits of the Earth

PepperTree Place
Where: across Melbourne
When: Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 February 2014
Open: Each of the gardens will be open on 15 & 16 February 2014, 10am - 4.30pm
Entry: Entry to each garden is $7.00, no charge for children under 18
Information: Please see the VIC Calendar of openings here for details of facilities at each garden.
More information here

(No bookings required)

Over one special weekend, Open Gardens will be opening six productive gardens across Melbourne. From a community garden to permaculture and potager gardens: this is a must visit for those interested in growing productive gardens or gaining new insights into how these gardens can be successfully cultivated in urban spaces. There will be a range of extra activities including wicking bed demonstrations, workshops on growing Asian vegetables, talks on permaculture gardening, garden produce and specially handcrafted garden products for sale.
The Kitchen Garden

PepperTree Place
A tranquil and quirky community garden hidden in the heart of busy Coburg. Built on old tennis courts, it is divided into many different spaces, all containing edible produce of some sort: indigenous/native, ornamental, a large school kitchen garden, chickens, berry garden and espaliered fruit.
Cafe Co-Op with garden produce & artisan breads available. Community nursery with edible, native & water plants. Information display & stall for the Moreland Food Garden Network

Address: 512 Sydney Rd, Coburg

The Kitchen Garden
Angelo's Food Forest
Clever design integrates a beautiful French-style potager with spaces for living and entertaining. There's a formal geometric vegetable garden, pergola, hazelnut hedge, and garden beds surrounded by woven hurdles. Espaliered heritage apples, French pears, greengage, cherry trees and damson plum are underplanted with edible plants.
Quality garden products will be on sale

Address: 8 Gillman St, Malvern East

Angelo's Food Forest
A living example of the principles of permaculture gardening. Many varieties of fruit trees and 23 different types of berries jostle for space among unusual medicinal herbs, edible flowers and perennial root crops. Small ponds with edible water plants and tiny fish. Hydroponic vegetable beds.
Pfleiderer garden
There will be talks on permaculture gardening at 1pm-2pm each day

Address: 53 Dundas St, Preston

Pfleiderer garden
A delightful permaculture garden surrounding a sustainable house. Intensively worked productive front garden is brimming with fruit trees, vegetables and herbs. There's a rear native garden of wattles, grasses and small ephemeral wetland. Wicking beds, compost, hens, worm farms. Structures made from recycled materials. Tanks and greywater.
Over the weekend there will be wicking bed talks and the owner will conduct tours of the garden.

Address: 1 Croft Cres, Reservoir

Quarter Acre Farm

Quarter Acre Farm
An attractive productive garden where the front and back gardens have been converted to edible
plantings. There are vegetables in raised beds and 40 fruit trees - quince, pomegranate, apple, fig, cherry avocado and apricot - keep the family self-sufficient. The garden also features a beehive, heritage chickens and a duck.

Address: 22 Yerrawa Dve, Watsonia

Highett Street Community Garden
Set within the heart of the largest public housing estate in Melbourne is a lush urban oasis containing an astonishing array of edible plants with 126 raised plots tended by local residents. The huge range of vegetables includes pumpkins and cucumbers from East Timor, taro, tree lettuce and mustard greens, all grown using organic and sustainable principals. A large pergola with pizza oven and seating is a social centre for gardeners and local residents.
Highett St Community Garden

The Highett St Community Garden will have a range of workshops on both Saturday and Sunday

Address: Belgium Ave, Richmond

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pick Your Own Fruit and Support Local Farmers

Now is the season of abundance as many fruits ripen up for the summer season. Stone fruits and berries are some of my scrumptious favourites but both of these can be quite expensive to buy organic.  Many urban dwellers only have a limited amount of produce we can grow in our own neighbourhoods (although it could be a lot more).  One solution I've found is to go to a  ‘pick your own’ farm. This way you can still play a part in where your food is coming from and develop an direct relationship with local farms.
The wider environmental implications are that fruit is local, seasonal and fresh. By buying direct from farmers and shortening the supply chain, farmers also get more return for their produce.  Make sure you take your own containers- choose multiple small ones so as the produce doesn’t get squashed under its own weight. Covered shoes and sun protection are also recommended.
If you pick more than you can eat berries freeze well as does stewed stone fruit.  Home made jams and chutneys are easy to make and if you fill up recycled jars it also means no packaging.  Last year our family picked and made a years supply of jam and it was well worth the effort but beware- once you’ve tasted homemade conserves you’ll never be able to eat bought ones again!
We have started a tradition of a yearly trek to Sunny Creek Organic Berry Farm out past Warragul in Victoria, Australia. It is an interesting farm to visit, not just for the diversity of produce, but to see a commercially operating farm that has been designed using permaculture principles.  Phil Rowe explains that they use techniques like  "Inter-cropping with berries amongst trees and multiple varieties in rows. Extending harvest period through crop choices and tolerance of weeds which are relatively benign to crops, like violets".  Chestnut trees, apples and hazelnuts form the tree layer which shelter and add diversity to the main berry crops. Birds and frogs are encouraged as natural pest controllers- but kept away from the berries during the harvest period with nets. Envisage vines dripping with raspberries, giant blackberries, red currents, juicy boysenberries and rarities such as the delicate velvet of white raspberries… Yum!
Sunny Creek also has an aptly named ‘gobblers pass’ for $5 so you can eat as much as you want on farm.  
While you are there you might also pick up some tips on how to grow your own.
Check out these websites for other ‘Pick Your Own’ farm listings- not all are organic but many are. It’s also a good idea to call first to confim what’s in season as it can vary year to year.

A years supply of jam from organic handpicked fruit.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

PepperTree Place 7th December Swap Workshops

PepperTree Place this Saturday 7th December at 10am - 12pm

Welcome in summer at our first Summer Swap and our last swap for 2013 so come on down and exchange your abundant homegrown goodies for other local produce.
The Coburg Home-Grown Edibles Swap will be bursting with garden greens and spring goodies and whatever the underground larder gives up! Bring along your produce and swap & share backyard bounties with local growers from Moreland and beyond.
Seedlings that cry "Healthy Meals Are A'Coming!" will be available from the PepperTree Community Nursery and as always home baked tasty treats and delicious coffee on offer at the Cafe Cooperative.

Workshops on this Saturday include:

10.30am - Trestling and Taming your Tomatoes with Heidi
11am - ChookChat and all things Poultry with Paul
11.30am - Seed Swap Chat focussing on Brassicas with Judy

Bread Song...

Did you know that bread can sing? 
It will squeak and whisper as it hits the wide world after baking in the toasty depths of your oven. Bread song is something that makes you stop, breathe in belly warming scents and smile at small wonders.
You are invited to join Ross around the woodfired oven this Saturday to chat all things bread baking, listen to bread song and taste-test loaves as fresh as can be.
Bring your own creations to the oven by 10:30am and share in the age old tradition of community baking within this inviting community garden.

PepperTree Place, 512 Sydney Road, Coburg, VIC 3058
Phone (03) 8401 0100

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Growing Food Project: screening as part of Melbourne Now at NGV (30th Nov @ 3pm)

Growing Food Project will be screened as part of Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) on Saturday 30th Nov at 3pm.

Melbourne Now celebrates the latest art, architecture, design, performance and cultural practice to reflect Melbourne’s extraordinary and unique cultural landscape.

This film screening will be followed by a panel discussion with artist & nutritionist, Rasha Tayeh alongside other inspiring designers & architects discussing Food & the Built Environment – inviting viewers to discuss the benefits of supporting local food systems & how we can better design cities around food and bring it closer to us.

Panel speakers include:
The film screening & panel discussion will kick off at the Clemenger BBDO Auditorium (NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road Melbourne) at 3pm and will be followed by a tour of the Foodscape designed by Urban Commons at the NGV garden.

This event is free. No booking required.

Photo: Growing Food Project 
For more information about the Growing Food Project visit:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Seeds... the buried beginnings of food - An evening with Simran Sethi (Abbotsford Convent - Thu 5th Dec)

Seeds... the buried beginnings of food, the systems in which it is embedded ... and our capacity to transform them.

Come to the Abbotsford Convent 6.30-8.30pm Thurs 5 Dec, for an inspiring night of conversation, food and music, with special guest, award winning journalist and educator, Simran Sethi. 

It will be, to quote from the Oases website: 
"an evening of invigorating conversation on the buried beginnings of food – the nature of the seeds, crops, diets, industries and systems underpinning our food, and how we can go about changing them for the better. 
Anthony James, Head of OASES Graduate School, and Livia Albeck-Ripka, Deputy Editor of Dumbo Feather, host a conversation with award-winning journalist Simran Sethi, on the current global food crisis as an opportunity to rediscover the sanctity of the seed, community resilience and our capacity for transformation."
P.Simran Sethi is described as, amongst other things:
"a journalist, strategist and educator committed to an expansion of social and environmental engagement that includes voices from rural and urban communities. Simran is currently an associate at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) at the University of Melbourne in Australia, where she is conducting research on the loss of agricultural biodiversity in our food system. Simran is also the Queen’s College Sugden Fellow."
Tix: available at proceeds to Foodbank and the Choir of Inspiration and Hope.

Street Address: St Heliers Street Abbotsford VIC 3067 (refer to map)

Public Transport
Collingwood Station is the closest station (on the Hurstbridge/South Morang lines) – 5-10 minute walk
Trains run every 10 minutes on Weekdays.
Bus stops are also nearby.

NOTE: Refer to map on Abbottsford Convent’s website to see location of event (look for #14)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Growing Food project : Film Premiere Wednesday 20th Nov. 2013

Photo: Growing Food Project
After a year of filming at wonderful community gardens, local food projects and interviewing inspiring food activists in Melbourne - the Growing Food project is ready to be launched!

The Growing Food project is a short documentary exploring Melbourne's local food movement and grassroots initiatives. Written & directed by Rasha Tayeh, the film highlights stories of people coming together to build local, fair and sustainable food systems.

The film will be launched at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) on Wednesday 20th Nov at 7pm.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with inspiring food activists, experts and thinkers — inviting viewers to discuss the benefits of supporting local food systems.

Photo: Growing Food Project

Speakers include;

Rasha Tayeh: Growing Food project director, Melbourne-based nutritionist, food activist & artist.  Rasha is involved in a range of food security & local food projects.  Rasha has worked as a researcher & associate lecturer at Deakin University and most recently on various health promotion projects that focus on food security & food advocacy at Merri Community Health Services.  She is the founder of the Moreland Food Gardens Network & a member of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance.

Pamela Morgan: with extensive experience in urban agriculture & food security, Pam has worked in a range of settings both locally and internationally.  Highlights in her work history include managing the Collingwood Childrens Farm through its establishment and development, six years working in the Cuban Urban Agriculture Program, working in local government as Project Officer for the VicHealth Food for All Program, and is currently managing the development of a food garden in her work at Merri Community Health Services.

Kirsten Larsen: has been investigating the ins & outs of all things food for around 7 years.  Kirsten has been involved in implementing food policies at state and local governments.  In her work at the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab she has focused technical & social innovations that bring healthy communities and ecosystems closer.  Co-director of Eaterprises, a social enterprise that transforms the way food is distributed and exchanged.

Serenity Hill: Co-director of Eaterprises, Serenity is from a farming family in Warrenbayne in NE Victoria and is currently undertaking food systems research focused on the complex challenges facing farmers and opportunities for innovative response.  She has extensive experience in policy development in Victorian state government related to climate change adaptation.

Mark Sanders: Co-founder of Moreland Community Gardening and Moreland Food Gardens Network, Mark got a taste for social gardening a few years ago.  He then found himself along with his neighbours reviving a beautiful food forest in West Brunswick.  Exposed to backyard fruit & veg growing by his parents from an early age - he was bound to end up gardening as much as he does!  He leads a secret double life as an IT & web development manager.

Photo: Growing Food Project
Don't miss out on this special event & public launch of Melbourne's first local film on local food! To buy your tickets click here.

Proceeds will be donated to the Community Meals Program at Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

For more info, visit the Growing Food project website & follow us on Facebook.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Petty's Orchard work day Sunday 3rd Nov

Petty's Orchard Work Day
Sunday November 3rd
10am till 2pm

1 Homestead Road, Templestowe 3106
Google Map | Melways Ref: Map 22 A12

Spring Cleaning
We have some pruning to finish off, there is also some training of new growth on the Tatura trellis
The grass may need a trim again and preparation for the burning of the prunings on Sat 16 work day(not permitted to burn on Sundays)

There is plenty of general maintenance as always.

It looks to be a changeable Spring day so come prepared for a few showers.
if you have some time please come along, it is always an interesting day and
as always there is time for a good chat over a cup of tea and cake.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

PepperTree Spring Garden Fiesta 9th November

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Hi Swappers,

This weekend's November Swap will be kinda low key as we focus on getting ourselves ready for the Spring Garden Fiesta on 9th November - see below. The usual Edible Swap Table, Community Plant Nursery and Popup Cafe will all be open and operating for your affordable enjoyment, purchases and pleasure. The bread oven will be fired up for your sourdough experiments so bring them along to be cooked up.

If you have some spare energy and time there will be opportunity on Saturday to help out with some site preparation tasks like weeding and general tidying up. Look for Ross or Tash during the morning.

Chookchat @ Chookville will be hosted by Paul - come along to share and learn chook wisdom with others. From 11am.

Join us this Saturday, November 2nd, 10am - 12pm for the Coburg Home-Grown Edibles Swap at PepperTree Place.

Spring Fiesta - 9th November 2013, 10am-4pm

The annual Fiesta is a chance for community to enjoy its local garden in full bloom with a popup cafe, veg and meat barbeque to keep people fed and watered.
Free entertainment on stage as well as workshops for adults and kids throughout the day include the Fabulous Zucchini Clan (pictured), The Night Before Tomorrow, the Tarentella School of Dance, Vardos, The Black Harrys and local Coburg choirs.

Free workshops on Growing Summer Bumper Crops by Diana Cotter; Unusual Edibles by Chris Williams, Zero Waste Challenge by Tammy Sherer, Successful worm farming by Worm Lovers - Richard Thomas and the science of composting with Matthew Daniel.

Visitors will have the chance to explore the community nursery and buy affordable plants and spring vegie seedlings, check out the chooks and take part in a number of kids' activities throughout the day.

Check out more detail on the Garden Fiesta at

All proceeds from Swap Saturdays promote the growth of People-Plant projects at PepperTree Place. So please help plant the seed!

PepperTree Place
Corner of Sydney Rd and Urquhart St
(Main entrance gate and parking opposite Pentridge Prison)
512 Sydney Road
Coburg, VIC 3058
P (03) 8401 0196

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Moreland Community Gardens Tour 2013 - All Welcome!

Last year in August we organised a tour of 5 community gardens in Moreland for the members of the various gardens. It was lots of fun, interesting, inspiring, a bit exhausting for those on bikes and we made some new friends as a result.
The inspirational Merri Corner Community Garden
We've managed to organise another tour of the same community gardens this year and agreed on Saturday 23rd November as THE DAY.

This year is we'll share the tour with a wider audience - we'll be opening the tour up to everyone!

It'll be a chance for you to come and see what we're all up to at our various gardens in Moreland and find out how to get involved. We hope you can come along. 

We'll be starting at 11am, finishing up around 3pm and visiting:
  • Luscombe St Community Garden, East Brunswick
  • Merri Corner Community Garden, East Brunswick
  • PepperTree Place, Coburg (BYO Lunch)
  • West Brunswick Community Garden & Food Forest
  • Mulberry Garden, Glenroy
RSVP by emailing

We'll get in touch with those who RSVP to provide more information closer to the date.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Registrations are now open for the 2013 Darebin Backyard Harvest Festival!

Darebin's Backyard Harvest Festival is back again this November with a range of exciting events to inspire people to create their own food gardens.

Presented by Darebin City Council in partnership with Darebin Ethnic Communities, the Backyard Harvest Festival  kicks off on Sunday 10 November in a celebration of home food-growing traditions from around the world. 

This is your chance to tour 14 impressive home gardens around Darebin and participate in five great workshops, covering everything from worm-farming to food preserving and raising chickens in your backyard.  

Darebin's Backyard Harvest Festival is free for Darebin residents and only $10 per event for Non-Darebin residents. It runs from 10 November to 1 December 2013.

REGISTRATIONS ARE ESSENTIAL as numbers are limited so BOOK EARLY! Home garden locations are provided at the time of booking.

For the full Darebin Backyard Harvest program, and to register, visit

For any questions on the program or registration, contact Alice Potter on 8470 8465 or email

Check out this video prepared for last year's festival.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Luscombe Street Community Garden Jumble Sale- Saturday 26th 10-3pm

Luscombe Street Community Garden proudly presents our second Garden Jumble Sale!

Where: 43 Luscombe Street, Brunswick East
When: This Saturday, 26th October, 10am-3pm

Last year we had a hoot converting our green veggie oasis into a treasure trove of pre-loved and vintage clothing, bric-a-brac, records, books, sweet treats and crafty goodness and we're doing it all again. This year we're tying in with the 2013 Garage Sale Trail, an event that promotes sustainability and community connection.

Come along to check out our lovely green space, score yourself a bargain and grab a bacon 'n egg roll from the BBQ. We'll also be selling heirloom vegetable seedlings propagated in our very own propagation tent.

All proceeds go straight back into the garden. We'd love to see you there!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Stewart Lodge Annual Spring Plant Sale - Saturday 19th October 10am-3pm (Brunswick)

Come along to the Stewart Lodge Annual Spring Plant Sale

When: Saturday 19th October, 10am - 3pm
Where: 83-85 Stewart St Brunswick

Stewart Lodge is a supportive residential service for over 80 residents who might otherwise not have a place to call home.

The Stewart Lodge Wellbeing Garden engages residents and local volunteers in tending a kitchen garden which provides fresh produce for meals and incorporates garden therapy activities for residents to increase physical activity and mental wellbeing.

All proceeds from the sale will go back into growing and maintaining the garden.

If you would like to find out more about the garden, make a donation or become a volunteer please call Stewart Lodge on 9387 6942.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nearly half of Moreland's landfill waste is food! Can you Zero your Waste for a Week?

Food waste is a huge problem, locally, nationally and globally. In Moreland around 29,000 tonnes of waste goes to landfill annually, almost half of this is food waste!

Australians throw away an estimated $5.2 billion worth of food every year, or one in five bags of the food they purchase.

When food waste breaks down in landfill it produces the harmful greenhouse gas, methane. This gas is 23 times more potent than the carbon dioxide that comes out of your car exhaust.

Using a compost bin or worm farm for the food waste you do produce is a great way to reduce waste to landfill and recycle nutrients back into your garden. However, what is even better than recycling your food waste is to avoid creating it in the first place.

Food waste avoidance saves all the water, energy and non-renewable resources that went into getting that food from the farm to your plate. Food waste avoidance means only buying what you can use, being creative with what you have in the cupboards and getting your storage right to get the most out of your food.

Moreland residents! Take the Zero Waste for a Week Challenge this November and reduce your landfill waste to zero for one week. 

It’s not as hard as it sounds, changing the way you buy goods and produce, composting food scraps and recycling more all make a huge difference. 

Free workshops will be available throughout November on food waste avoidance and composting to help you cut your waste to zero. 

For more information or to register call Council on 9240 1111 or go to...

Please note that registration for the challenge is only open to Moreland Residents but information is open to everyone, visit the website for some great Zero Waste tips!

Friday, October 4, 2013

5th October Food Swap - PepperTree Place, Cobrug

PepperTree Place - Saturday Swap - 5th October

Hi there,
PepperTree Place will be open from 10am-12pm tomorrow morning, 5th October brimming with all things Spring  and Seasonal. The Community Plant Nursery will have a staggering array of Heirloom Vegie Seedlings available at very plantable prices! Get your Tomatoes, Capsicums, Chilies, Basil and Eggplant while the night air temperature gains momentum.

Also to keep in mind the PepperTree's Garden Fiesta is coming on Saturday the 9th November, 10am-4pm. We are looking for plenty of Voluntary Help leading up to this event as well as on the day if you can. 

There is a huge variety of jobs to cover on the day from preparing and serving food, to setting up decorations, handling plants and sales in the Community Nursery, manning the Information Stall to helping out with kids activities.

Please contact Tash van Velzen so you can register as a volunteer for the day. (03) 8401 0196 or

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Eat Local Feed Global - One in eight people go to bed hungry every day — grow with us and change this! (12-20 October)

Join “EAT LOCAL FEED GLOBAL” between 12–20 October.

Let’s Grow A Future where everyone has enough to eat.

What to do:
  1. Visit
  2. Register your eat local feed global activity
  3. We’ll send you your how-to guide and other great resources
  4. Share some food with friends and help tackle hunger and poverty
Oxfam Australia would like to invite you to celebrate this World Food Day and help grow a future where everyone has enough to eat. Join us to Eat Local Feed Global – register your support now.

With the newly elected Government’s plan to strip $4.5 billion from the planned increase in the aid budget, your interest in making a real difference to those less fortunate around the world is more important than ever. So we’re inviting you to be part of a global movement to celebrate World Food Day between 12-20 October.

Register now to host a get-together and raise funds for Eat Local Feed Global! You can celebrate any way you choose – cook up a storm to impress your family, share a lunch or morning tea with work mates, or just have a drink with your friends.

A week dedicated to food is a great opportunity to remember the 1 in 8 people worldwide without enough to eat. There’s no better time to raise awareness about global hunger amongst your network!

Register for Eat Local Feed Global now and you’ll also go in the draw to win an Oxfam Shop Vegetarian Cookbook! We’ll send you a pack of great resources, like tips on how you, and your friends, family and workmates, can build a better food future for millions of people while eating sustainably.

We will be running optional training sessions on how to host a great event @ 132-138 Leicester St, Carlton 3053

Tuesday 1 October @ 6pm
Saturday 5 October @ 11am
Email: if you would like to attend.

(on behalf of Oxfam)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Environmental Film Festival Melbourne 2013

Coming up in Melbourne, September 5th-13th is the 2013 Environmental Film Festival. The festival premiers environmental documentaries from Australia and the globe and looks set to be inspiring and informative across a range of issues. Festival organizers describe the films as 'traversing the relationship between humans and their environments, challenging the way people think about the natural world and inspiring them to discuss, explore and act'.

Several sessions include panel discussions and there seems to be a real focus on inspiring change. Festival patron Bob Brown says "EFFM gives Australians a glimpse into the most pertinent environmental issues and reminds us that these issues are not all happening in faraway places, they are happening right here on our doorstep– and, it's time for all Australians to be a part of the solution,” says Festival Patron Bob Brown.

Of particular interest to local food gardeners might be The Fruit Hunters which follows the quest of rare fruit hunters. While it has a tropical focas this playful film is said to foster a "greater appreciation of our symbiotic relationship with fruit through culture, history, and ecology and glean a sense of our infinite biodiversity so clearly under threat by an all-consuming monoculture."

Also standing out is the beautifully shot film More Than Honey. This Oscar nominated film by Markus Imhoof examines the crisis of diminishing honey bee populations and features research on wild and domestic bees around Perth. As Australia is described as having some the last healthy bees in the world it is a particularly pertinent issue to be aware of.

The festival is hosted by Kino Cinemas. Check out the festival website here to peruse the full program and for ticketing details.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Peppertree Place September Food Swap 7th September

Peppertree Place will be open for usual Community Gathering on September 7th - yep, that''s KRudd's Election Day.

Coburg Primary School will be a venue for Voting so come and cast your vote then head on over for a relaxing cup of Coffee, Cake, swap your produce and browse the Community Nursery.

Ross's Wood Fired Oven will be ready to take on your dough mixes so bring them for a community bake off!

Diana Cotter is following up her Pruning for Espalier Workshop from August with a pruning Stone Fruits demonstration and discussion. Workshop is $10 per head, no bookings required just turn up and pay on the day. Workshop from 10am-11am

ChookChat @ Chookville will be on again with Paul from 11am - come down to learn and share your chook knowledge with others.

PepperTree Place opens for extended hours 10am-2pm

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

International Permaculture and Horticulture Volunteer Oppurtunities

Itchy feet?  Want to share your skills with people who need it most? The Australian Red Cross has some inspiring openings for volunteers in Africa.  The positions all aim to develop sustainable horticulture and local food security.


Help subsistence farmers in a beautiful Ugandan village to establish a sustainable, organic and community-owned food supply using permaculture techniques. Assist with the establishment of two greenhouse gardens, create a permaculture network and train farmers in permaculture practice.


Interested in sustainable food production and community gardening? Then head to Kenya to support Red Cross with a range of food security projects. You will train volunteers and farmers in horticulture techniques and trial organic gardening methods.

Horticulturalist Peter Newbigin working in Kenya says that organic farming is now being promoted - not as a label to attract discerning buyers, but as a way to reduce financial strain on low-income communities and improve the sustainability of production.
"When we talk of the most vulnerable, these people are interested in how they can manage their resources," Peter says. "For example, by picking caterpillars off their crop every morning, farmers utilise labour - a plentiful resource - and avoid expensive pesticides. Organic soil management techniques such as mulching can reduce water use and reliance on commercial fertilisers."


Work with Red Cross on a food security strategy to help communities reduce their reliance on rain cycles. You will investigate current practices and explore the use of agro-technologies to support sustainable food production.

All assignments are part of the Australian Volunteers for International Development program and cover travel, accommodation and living costs, as well as health and security support.

Applications close on 29 August and the assignments begin in November.

For more information visit the Red Cross website here or call (03) 9345 1834.

Monday, August 12, 2013

South Melbourne Commons Film Night: The Man Who Stopped The Desert

A group of Permablitz designers got together to design the food gardens for South Melbourne Commons in 2011. Unfortunately the lease for the commons is not being renewed and will be closing the doors end of August. Please say farewell by going to the fund raiser film night this Thursday night!

Film Night: The Man Who Stopped The Desert

Time ticks away as we approach the end of the Commons as we know it, but that doesn't stop great things from happening! We've partnered with Transition Port Phillip for this film event. We can't wait to see it and share with you all! The Man Who Stopped The Desert tells the remarkable story of Yacouba Sawadogo, an illiterate peasant farmer, who transformed the desert and the lives of thousands across west Africa. This film screening is followed by a short talk with Mariam Issa, social entrepreneur and author of A Resilient Life.

South Melbourne Commons Hall
Corner of Bank & Montage st
South Melbourne

6.45pm, Thursday 15th of August

$10 online or $12 on the door

Watch Trailer 

a short story about this network

I'm often asked about this wonderful network, why it's here & how did it come about?  So, I thought I'd tell you a little story about the Moreland Food Gardens Network (MFGN)... and take this opportunity to reflect on what inspires me. 

Photo by Rasha Tayeh; Mulberry Gardens
The network was established through work I do in health promotion at Merri Community Health.  MFGN emerged in early 2011 through a former group that focused on food security issues in Moreland.  There was a notable increase in local food projects, not just through the organisation’s work in food security, but more generally in the community... there's been a groundswell of grass root initiatives focusing on food.  So MFGN was an attempt to respond to community needs to improve urban agriculture and food security in Moreland, by connecting people and creating opportunities to advocate and collaborate around important food issues.  By inviting community members to join this group, it meant that it could act as a peer-support network for local residents & grass root initiatives as well as provide a platform to honor & facilitate local knowledge.

Photo by Rasha Tayeh
Mulberry Gardens (our cutest members)

The group is fairly young and to an extent still finding its feet.  But the level of commitment & energy of its members is truly inspiring.  It’s a reflection of the local food movement in Melbourne’s inner north.  Like any group there are ebbs and flows, but I suppose the network maintains its structure through health promotion principles, the unique relationships and passion that exist with its members.  There’s a terms of reference, an online website, facebook, twitter, a members' google-group, bimonthly gatherings and a healthy dose of flexibility that allows everyone to participate within their own capacity.  There’s a great diversity in our membership base, ranging from local residents, gardeners, food activists, not-for-profit organizations, local food projects, schools, community health workers, local government officers, academics and social entrepreneurs.  

As a founding member, I learnt on the job that it’s a balance of clear structure & process with enough fluidity for creativity to flourish and new ideas to arise.  It’s collective thinking and action driven by a common vision for a local, fair & sustainable food system that allows this network to work.  From my experience, both personally and professionally, I found that networks & community groups are each very interesting, dynamic & unique in their own way.  There always tends to be a core group of ‘main-action-people’ and other members who come & go.  But ultimately it’s the fact that members continue being part of it, keeps it relevant and alive.

Photo by Rasha Tayeh
Growing Diversity - Community cooking project
(so many delicious recipes were shared!)

I'm constantly amazed by the wonderful work our community is doing to relocalise and strengthen our food system.  Projects keep growing in numbers and new opportunities for collaboration are constantly on the horizon.  There are always stories to be shared over locally grown food and many delicious cups of tea - it's a certain magic that's hard to explain when people come together to share food and build community.  

If you're around in a couple of weeks, please pop into the Coburg Farmers Market on Saturday 24th Aug and say hello, we'll have a stall there.  Our fair food feast booked out quickly, but do drop in to another fair food week event and make a toast to the local food movement in our beautiful city.   

With love, 

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