Port Phillip Urban Fresh Food Network (PPUFFN)
   December E-newsletter



South Melbourne Commons launch a boon to local food system
“Thank God for Friends of the Earth being as resilient as nature itself”, Father Bob Maguire concluded on 10 Dec, at the launch of the unique urban development that is the South Melbourne Commons. He was referring to the journey shared by F.O.E and the Fr Bob Maguire Foundation in developing the Commons,  from the very early days when Friends of the Earth entered, stage left, with a vision for converting the old parish primary school site from an empty shell, to a neighbourhood hub comprised of public open space and social enterprises. Announcing his gratitude and pride in the completed project, F.O.E’s Dave West described some of the Commons food-related enterprises, including the Commons cafe, which extends out amongst permaculture food gardens...Continue


Transiton Towners ferment in their Convivial Kitchen 

Have salt - will ferment. Sound simple? It is if what you're fermenting is sauerkraut. That's the word from Transition Town Port Phillip cooking group member Leon, who presented several batches of sauerkraut for tasting and comparison at The Convivial Kitchen* A two week and four week old batch of this pickled cabbage were sampled side by side and the difference in texture, acidity, taste and colour was discernible. This is because under certain conditions (read salty in this context), certain foods undergo a dramatic change that not only makes them last longer, but also alters their taste and nutritional values completely. In this case of Leon's sauerkraut, lactic acid bacteria had clearly been doing their work. According to the Wikipedia, evidence of fermented beverages have been found in the ancient city of Babylon dated about 5000 BC. The European counterpart to Korea's kimchi, sauerkraut is said to be one of the easiest foods to ferment, and indispensable if you're planning a long sea voyage and need to ward off scurvy...If you're interested in time-honoured cooking techniques like fermentation. Read on about fortnightly Convivial Kitchen sessions in St Kilda.

PPUFFN mid-summer growers' competition
This is not the season to overlook your edible garden and get careless about warding off possums with bricks, barriers and sonic devices of various persuasions. Au contraire. Tis the season to flex your horticultural muscles and prepare for the first ever PPUFFN growers competition on Saturday 11 February. Enticing prizes will be awarded to the best looking, tastiest and obligatory biggest, as well as the oddest shaped and most unusual offerings from growers around port Phillip. But before you go and bribe your niece or nephew for the tomato they’ve lovingly tended at their school kitchen garden and photographed for their scrapbook (or Ipad screen saver, more likely), remember to invite them along, as there’ll be a young growers award category too. To receive venue, competition and prize details as they come to hand, contact Paula: gardeners@ecocentre.com

Eat to help the homeless
Diners and cafe goers have a week to go, to participate in this year's Streetsmart campaign to help the homeless. In the six weeks in the lead-up to Christmas, StreetSmart partners with restaurants to ask diners to make a small donation to StreetSmart on their bill. Every table is asked to add $2 or more to their bill - not even the price of a coffee or mineral water. It’s an idea that's been applauded for its simplicity and graciousness. 100 per cent of donations from diners' bills are distributed as grants to small, 'hard to reach' agencies and projects that assist people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. Participating venues in Port Phillip include Misuzu's in Albert Park, and both  Miss Jackson and Dr Jekyll in St Kilda. An array of restaurants and cafes in the c.b.d and inner north are also taking part. Full Details

A gleaned tree is a good tree...

Gleaning – the practice of finding and harvesting food that would otherwise remain unpicked – is becoming somewhat mainstream, going by the habits that are being adopted by some of Melbourne’s top chefs.  Award winning chef Andrew McConnell reportedly favors the back alleys of Fitzroy as a top spot for plucking figs from overhanging fruit trees. Meanwhile, Ben Shrewy from Attica - one of the world’s top one hundred restaurants* - forages in the wild and around Bayside Melbourne for his ingredients. One of my favourite anecdotes about gleaning in Melbourne comes from the author of the article ‘Ripe for the picking’, Paul Mitchell. Paul paints an arguably more familiar picture of gleaning as we’ve come to know it, in the suburbs.  Says Paul, of his own home in Kingsville: “We are the loquat house. Every spring when the fruit ripens on the tree in our front yard, elderly Greek men in suits  and widows in black appear on our doorstep, asking if they can fill their empty shopping bags with this strange bitter crop.” In his article, Paul interviews a Footscray couple who have a systematic approach to harvesting the suburbs, and who shed light on the basis for neighbourhood gleaning in Judeo-Christian history – biblical references and all!. Highly recommended reading.  For the full article, follow this link.

Aussies check out food sovereignty in Venezuela
Screened at the EcoCentre in November, the newly released film ‘Growing Change’ shows how food sovereignty has passionately been pursued by the citizens of Venezuela. From sprawling urban centres like Caracas, to regional communities; from fishing villages to cacao plantations; there’s been a change in mood in Venezuela as control of the food system has shifted away from corporations and back to communities. Take the cacao (cocoa) plantation in Chuao, which is now in the hands of a co-operative of 130 people – it’s just one of a hundred thousand legally registered co-operatives that are reshaping the economic lives of Venezuelans.  Continue.