All posts by John O'Brien

Breadmaking Workshop – November 2017

This was the second breadmaking workshop we have run for the community, but this time the emphasis was on sourdough.  Elissa took us through the theory and process behind sourdough starter and breadmaking.  Ian had been busy cranking up our community-sized pizza oven in preparation for the baking.

The sourdough was made and kneaded then left to prove for a couple of hours (it was a reasonably cool day).  In the meantime, we rolled out our sourdough pizza bases and prepared the toppings which all of the participants had contributed.  Then into our wood-fired pizza oven they went, and after a brief hiccup getting the temperature right, the pizzas were cooked and consumed.

The bread dough was punched down and quickly kneaded for the final time then placed in  bread tins or on metal trays to prove again – this time in the back of Elissa’s warm car to speed up the rising.  Much chatting and information sharing went on during the proving period.  Unfortunately some of our participants had to head off, so they took their bread dough home to bake.  The stayers put their bread into the oven and it seemed to be cooked in no time at all.

It came out looking scrumptious.  We tasted some that Elissa had baked and it was delicious.

We took home a small portion of starter for us to feed each day until we tried our hands at home baking sourdough bread.  

I have twice baked sourdough bread since from Elissa’s starter and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.  You just need to be at home for a good part of the day.  You can get on with other things whilst your bread rises.

We will probably run another breadmaking workshop in early 2018, and will post the date in the new year.

Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Schools Environment Day October 2017

The theme our Community Garden team chose to present at this year’s event to over 5 schools out of the 40 schools in the shire who attended was Seed to Seed: The Cycle of Life.

Kathi and I brought along all sorts of seeds, from poppy seed size to avocado pip to demonstrate the diversity of Nature and its endeavours to provide the next generation of plants.  Also starring were the insects that help with pollination of the flowers into seeds – insects such as the introduced bumble bee along with our native stingless bees and all manner of critters including birds who are attracted to the colour, nectar and perfume displayed by the advertising arm of plants:  flowers.

Five school groups interacted with us to learn together about the amazing partnership between plants, insects and birds in the quest for our ecology to sustain and continue.

Basketweaving Workshop – November 2017

Long time permaculture teacher and practitioner, Debra Hebbard Keyes, travelled down from Grafton to demonstrate how we can use garden materials to construct baskets.  In this case, we had at our disposal, picked from our community garden as well as local Highland gardens, strappy leaves of red hot poker, lomandra, fairies fishing rods, daffodils & jonquils and NZ flax.

The low hum of chatter ceased as participants got into a meditative state and wove small baskets using garden leaves, raffia and string to make cords that will come together into the final item.

Judging by the response from participants, a good time was had by all and I suspect this may just be the beginning of a new hobby for some of them.

We think we will be running another basket weaving workshop in 2018 so watch this space!

Kids Plant-to-Plate

During the recent school holidays, Moss Vale Community Garden along with On the Grow Railway Street Fresh Food  Market presented another “Kids Plant-to-Plate” vegetable seedling activity to encourage our kids to become backyard food growers.  Leppington Speedy Seedlings kindly donated a range or seedlings from eggplants and tomatoes to spinach and capsicums. 

Lots of keen kids transplanted these seedlings into pots to take home for their vege patch.  And with a little TLC from these little gardeners, these seedlings will be fully grown and ready for the table in a few months time!

THE BIG LIFT

Students from University Technology Sydney visited the Southern Highlands recently to do some good works.  They are a part of a “pay it forward” program called “The Big Lift ” which started in an American university some years ago where students  calling themselves The Blue Crew travel to regional areas helping out community groups with tasks they cannot otherwise get completed. 

Moss Vale Community Garden were lucky enough to have their company in early October for a morning of energetic gardening activities – namely clearing the back slope of a tenacious weedy groundcover in preparation for a proposed native & bush tucker bed.  And with the help of our ever helpful Moss Vale CWA ladies, we were able to feed and water them with yummy home-made fayre.   

What a great initiative!