Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sunplugged - Sustainable Music and Arts Festival THIS Saturday 29th March

Kildonan's PepperTree Place presents...

Sunplugged- an ‘off the grid’ event, Saturday 29th March

Coburg will come to life this Earth Hour with PepperTree Place’s ‘Sunplugged’- a music and arts festival which celebrates sustainable living, food production and alternate technology in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
Supported by Moreland City Council’s Celebrating Place Community Grant, this inaugural event will feature live music performances, food production talks, information stalls and displays, a sustainable technology hub, an interactive art installation and organic food stalls selling zero-food-mile delicacies.
Local musicians will include the likes of acclaimed singer songwriter Liz Stringer, indie-pop specialist Nebraskatak, The Black Harrys, musical duo A Winter Flock of Minors and the all-girl Ladyfinger DJ Collective
Hands on workshops on harvesting and cooking unusual edibles, composting and talks bringing you up to date on local Food Politics and the joys of working with bamboo.
Location: PepperTree Place Community Garden 
512 Sydney Road Coburg Vic 3058
Date: Saturday 29th March
Time: 4pm – 9.30pm (Earth Hour - 8.30pm -9.30pm)
Cost: FREE
Help keep Sunplugged off the grid by putting your energy in motion with the Magnificent Revolution pedal powered cinema. Explore the plight of the Great Barrier Reef with a special screening of Earth Hour documentary - Lights out for the Reef from 8:00pm.
In the lead up to Sunplugged, make sure you stop by the junction of Sydney Road and Bell Street for the Corner Copia project. Supported by the Coburg initiative, Corner Copia will be open from the 24th through to the 29th March. Come Play Me I'm Yours piano installation free to the public for tinkling in the upcycled vertical garden. Get your hands dirty and help grow this interactive art park. 

Travel by public transport - arrives at our door or ride your bike. This is a family friendly event, drug and alcohol free.

Monday, March 24, 2014

North Nomadic Project: Help start a nomadic garden for Moreland (Friday 28th March, Brunswick)

The North Nomadic Project is paving the way for community driven permaculture, in the inner city of Moreland.

At the Community Environment Block event this Friday, the community will join together to start the first step of ‘North Nomadic Project’ - creating garden patches using recycled crates, with help from local artists and green businesses.

These gardens will be positioned as pop up projects in businesses and spaces in the Moreland area. The community and business owners are then asked to work together and maintain this growing urban project until the garden rolls on to its next home.

Who said living in the city meant you couldn’t have a garden?

Community environment block

When? Friday 28th March 2014

Where? Better Block Brunswick pop up park cnr Wilson ave and Sydney road, Brunswick

Who's invited? Everyone is encouraged to come along, get their veggie on, turnip the beats and better block it!

What's on? The salad bowl will be full of music, community planting, organic art and workshops. Set up 5 pallet gardens and plant - create a community garden that we can then find space to put permanently and have the community involved in maintaining and following. Inc CERES, Tree Preserve, Urban Farming.

How much? It's free and everyone's invited to join in.

The community environment block is the first stage in the North Nomadic project, paving the way for an organic injection of colour in the Moreland area. Through education and participation, the community will come together to learn, meet and enjoy their environment and the urban garden of the North Nomadic Project.

More info:

Friday, March 21, 2014

Local Food really stacks up against Big Farming so why is Australia slow on the uptake?

Let's reap the economic benefits of local food over big farming

By Nicholas Rose, Deakin University

While Australia’s national food and agriculture debate centres on boosting production and increasing exports, our local food industry is being neglected. That’s a shame because countries such as the United States and Canada, which have explicitly prioritised local food, are now reaping the economic benefits.
A few weeks ago, the federal government decided to scrap the A$1.5 million Community Food Grants program.
This meant that 364 community gardens, farmers' markets, food rescue organisations, community kitchens and other groups - more than 200 of whom had already been approved for grants up to A$20,000 - were informed that the program would be wound up and no funds disbursed due to the “tight fiscal environment”.
The grants were originally part of the now-defunct National Food Plan, a key Labor initiative launched in May 2013.

The food bowl myth

It has been said that a “dining boom” awaits our farmers and food manufacturers, brought about by the swelling ranks of the Asian middle classes who are demanding our agricultural commodities.
This is the thinking that informs the federal government’s White Paper on Agriculture, which is calling for submissions until April 17.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

4 local websites you might find interesting

There's a wealth of stuff out there on the web but it's nice to tap into a local vein of knowledge if you can find it.

Here are 4 websites that you might like to keep an eye on:

Deep Green Permaculture
"The Sustainable Organic Gardening Guide for Self-Sufficient People"
An inspiring and informative website belonging to Angelo Eliades whose jam-packed backyard food garden in Preston is increasing well known and appreciated (if you even have a chance to see it - go!). Full of well written and practical information about DIY garden projects, food growing, fruit trees, planting calendars and guides, permaculture and more. I guarantee you will see something in here that you'll want to try at home.

The Buzz
"Gardening & Living in a Changing Climate"
Long(ish)-form, easy-to-read, contemplative or observational writing from Sophie Gebhardt. What's happening with her own (northern suburbs of Melbourne) growing garden alongside recipes, stories about local happenings and places.

Lorne St Garden
"Self sufficiency and sustainability in Fawkner, Melbourne, Australia, and beyond!"
I always feel moved to get on with my own stuff at home after reading posts from David about his family's efforts in their Fawkner garden. There's plenty of 'give it a go', success and 'maybe we'll try this next time', observation, enthusiasm, action and more.

"A family having a crack at sustainability in the urban jungle"
A relatively recent addition, Andy's site covers a range of topics including food growing in his family's Brunswick garden, (push)biking and solar power . So far it seems practical, pictorial and fun.

Care to share your favourites and tell us why? Add your comments to this post or head over to our Facebook page.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Changing Work/Making Change: Cooperatives and the Solidarity Economy (Workshop Thu 20 March)

The problems with our current economic system have long been glaringly obvious: its reckless disregard for human and environmental welfare, the gross inequalities it creates, its corrosive effect on our communities, and its ongoing failure to provide secure, dignified livelihoods to countless millions.

But what can we do about it? How can we create viable alternatives to this destructive and unjust economy? What kinds of enterprises and movements can thrive within our present economy but also pave the way for its transformation?

This short workshop will explore what the co-operative model has to offer as a practical, accessible, down-to-earth strategy for addressing the economic and social problems that we face today. 

We will: 
  • discuss how co-operatives support and enable the solidarity economy,
  • showcase impressive examples of co-operatives that are redefining work, competing with traditional businesses, and changing the world,
  • workshop how co-ops can meet our local needs in exciting, new ways, 
  • provide practical advice about how to start a co-op and direct you to more detailed resources.
When: March 20 (Thurs), 7-9 pm
Where: Ross House, Meeting Room 1, Ground Floor, 247 Flinders Ln, Melbourne
Cost: $10/$5 (cons.)
Registrations (via Eventbrite) are essential

Organised by CoopWorkshop in association with Borderlands Cooperative
  • CoopWorkshop exists to foster and support social and collaborative enterprises through information-sharing, workshops and opportunities for collaboration.  
  • Borderlands Cooperative is dedicated to providing and disseminating knowledge and resources that facilitate social change work. 
(on behalf of Regan Bleechmore)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Impressive and inspiring edible garden Gunyah is open this weekend (Pascoe Vale)

If you have time this weekend it's well worth visiting Gunyah, Karen Sutherland's residential edible garden in Pascoe Vale.

It boasts 200 or more edible and useful plants in an ornamental setting, including nature strip plantings, rooftop bees, aquaponics, chickens, shitake mushrooms...

Karen will give free talks at 11am, 1pm and 3pm each day on produce gardening in dry climate, native herbs, bush foods and perennial vegetables.

Plants include South American edible species and Australian bush foods, Lemon Myrtle, Native Pepper, Saltbushes, Quandongs and the amazing 'Fragola' (Strawberry) grape - this year I have both the red and white fruiting types for sale. It smells and tastes like strawberries, is not available commercially and is super hardy, even fruiting in shade.

There'll be lots of unusual produce plants for sale for fellow plant collectors as well as honey and honeycomb from the rooftop bees, and some shitake logs, & some other gardening goodies.

Organic teas and coffee, Karen's Mum's lemon drink and home made goodies made with honey and Lemon Myrtle from the garden are for sale to keep you sustained.

Hope to see you there!

OPEN • 10am-4:30pm
ENTRY • $7 (U/18 FREE)
INFO • or

Also ope this weekend:

  • Pixbell Terrace - 100 Helen St. Northcote
  • Iron House Garden - 189 Brunswick Rd. Brunswick

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Urban Backyard Food Production as a Strategy for Food Security in Melbourne

Last year several of our MFGN members took part in  Zainil Zainuddin's postgraduate research on urban food production, by recording their harvest.  Zainil has recently completed her research and says about her findings
"The research area was limited to within a 70km radius of Melbourne CBD. The data collection period ran from July 2012 to July 2013. This was deliberately designed to capture inter-seasonal yield. In all, 15 households took part in the research and each participant contributed 12 weeks’ worth of data.

The collective plot size was 1,096 square metres, with a total yield of 388.73 kg worth of fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey and meat. A total of 1,015 eggs were also recorded. The study found that backyard food production was capable of producing a great diversity of edibles from common kitchen garden herbs to less commonly cultivated fruits and vegetables, as well as less commercially available varieties like amaranth, apple cucumber, acorn squash, butter squash, babaco, cape gooseberry, edible canna, elderflower, gem squash, loganberry, nettle, oca, orache, purslane, rat-tailed radish, viola flower, warrigal green, white mulberry and yacon. In total, 101 different types of nuts, fruits and vegetables were generated during the study period."
To read the more about of the results of her study the full article  is available on the Permaculture Research Institute website.

Zainil also writes the blog Urban food gardening, vegetarianism and sustainable actioning, for people interested in finding out more about her ongoing research into urban food production.  She explains growing her own food "as our action and statement against the transnational food corporation monopolisation of the food we eat... It is also an attempt to reduce our food mileage to a small degree vis-a-vis peak oil. I wish more and more people would take up food gardening. It is doable and fun and very satisfying... By growing your own food and preparing your own food from scratch, you are taking back some control over the food you eat."

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