Friday, June 1, 2012

Western Urban Harvest swap meets


I do love growing vegies, but I'm a very lazy gardener.  Nothing other than garlic, silverbeet or the hardiest herbs can survive in desert of neglect that is the Baklover garden.  It's nice to grow stuff but I can only eat so much silverbeet pie before I begin to hanker for something else.


Whether you have a glut of lemons or broccoli, or love to bake but hate having to eat through all your own wares, our local swap meet is the answer.  Bring down your excess home-grown produce or something else to trade, be it home-made jam, eggs, sourdough starter or even a tub of coffee grounds (they are very rich in nitrogen).


Over tea and community, trade it for an armful of diverse bits and bobs, from local feijoas...

P1040543 potted strawberries, gleaned from the Braybrook community garden by its custodian, the fabulous Braybrook Sprouts permaculture playgroup...

P1040552 veritable armfuls of Warrigal greens.  This is an indigenous plant that is slightly succulent in nature, by which I mean it stores some water in its fleshy stems and leaves.  You can see it growing wild in Pipemakers Park down by the Maribrynong.  It grows like a weed because, well, it is one, but weeds generally have like 1000% more vitamins and minerals than the vegies we like to grow in their place.  You need to cook it as it has a higher oxalate content (the compound that makes rhubarb leaves toxic) but I have grown and eaten a lot of it and am still here.


There are even seeds (many home harvested and heritage)...


...and seedlings.  If you sow seeds direct and feel bad about thinning them out, pot up the excess and bring 'em to the swap!


The Western Urban Harvest swap meets are run by The Good Seeds community garden group who advocate for more community gardens in the municipality.  They're currently working on trying to get the vacant land opposite Yarraville Square shopping centre turned into a community garden.  They also run workshops, particularly focusing on reusing discarded materials.  Check them out here.

If you are interested in all things green in the western suburbs, the group to plug into is POW or Permaculture Out West.

Here you can connect to "Fermentation Fridays" where groups of locals muddle happily through experiments in fermentation, including ginger beer and feta cheese!

POW also coordinate permablitzes, where you can arrange for dozens of spade-happy locals to descend on your property and literally transform your backyard in a day into a permaculture haven, for only the price of a big pot of dal.  The way it works is you attend a number of permablitzes yourself which earns you the right to hold your own.

I've lived here for nearly six years and feel so connected.  We never fail to see people we knew wherever we go, and many of those people are connected through multiple avenues, be they POW, the very active and lovely local Australian Breastfeeding Association group, kinder and school.  This is a great community to be a part of.  If you crave more connection (or just want to get rid of some of those bloody lemons), come down to the Western Urban Harvest swap meet tomorrow, June 2, from 10 am to 11.30 am at Bristow Reserve in Pilgrim Street Seddon.  I may even see you there.

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  1. Thank you!!!! I have been trying to find out what my fav fruit was called in english - feijoas!! YAY!!

  2. What a fabulous idea - I wonder if there is something similar North of the river?

    1. Hi Cara, not sure but CERES would be the place that would know.

  3. Fantastic! I remember you telling me about these meetups. Jase and I have just "stolen" a few veggie patches up at his parents' farm in the Macedon Ranges - kale, silverbeet, garlic and spinach should be on their way soon. You've given me some wonderful ideas of what to try next.

    1. Brilliant! They are all such tough vegies and with the exception of the garlic, they keep on giving - harvest the outer leaves and they will keep on growing. I cannot eat Chinese garlic in net bags after growing and eating my own.


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