Open Garden- Edible Eden

My friends Kate and Michael have opened their garden this weekend as part of the Darwin “Open Garden Scheme” at their family home. Their house is in my suburb of Alawa and show cases so well what you can do on a (large) suburban block. The house is an old school ground floor government brick house common in the suburbs and show cases the wonders of mulch and veggie growing.

herb potsI was helping out today and so many people were inspired by their wonderful garden. Their is a $7 entrance fee and some of this will go to the GULP project and is so worth seeing.

The garden is open again tomorrow 10- 4.30 and is really worth a look if you want inspiration for a productive garden. It is also right near the Lakeside Drive Community Garden- so you could also check that out too and there is a garden gathering there tomorrow.

signThe garden “Edibleden” at Kate and Michael’s has wonderful ideas for using all your sunny space and creating a wonderful space to live in.

whole gardenThere are some awesome chickens, a great chicken watering system and amazing mulberries from vigorous pruning.mulberry pruning




A Taste of The Tiwi- part two

The Tiwi islands really are a beautiful place and our time with the rangers was fantastic. Amongst other projects we also visited another farm near Milakarpati, this community has a barge less often and so fresh food is not as regularly received  The farm is owned by Tiwi enterprises and supplies food to the shop at Milikarparti to supplement barged in veggies and is a wonderful initiative.

tiwi fruit flyThe rangers have a job of monitoring insect traps for the government Quarantine department, if anything is caught in the traps it is sent off for analysis and the traps are refreshed. The farm is mainly fruit trees, including star fruit, jackfruit, banans, mangoes, pawpaws and citrus.

tiwi jack fruitAbove Des hangs out with the amazing and spiky Jackfruit. Also at the farm is a native plant nursery, which grows plants to re-veg areas that have undergone sand mining. For more info on “Farming the islands” click here.

tiwi nurseryWith a combination of modern small scale farming and traditional bush tucker, the Tiwi islands strives towards more sustainable fresh and healthy food. Bush tucker fruits such as Billy Goat Plum, Bush Apple and Cycad are collected mainly by the women. There is  hunting of fish, Turtle and Buffalo (which was introduced with white settlers) and  Wallaby. While visiting Willy offered us some Turtle as a special a special gift. Now I would like to say, as I write about this that Sea Turtles are protected and only indigenous land owners have the right to hunt them, as they always have done. This bush tucker supplements other food and is encouraged to be done for special occasions. Turtle willyThe sea turtle was Green Sea Turtle and Des helped Roogan, our Nepalese colleague, cut it up and cook it up into a curry. We also cooked some on a hot plate over a fire. Traditionally it can be put into a fire in its shell. So we are were very privileged to try it and I spose I should tell you what it tasted like. Well I thought it was like a cross between kangaroo and fish, and the fat was really rich, too much for me! I don’t eat too much meat and cooked up a load of hot plate veggies to add to the mix!

tiwi vegThe next day we went to a very special beach near to an area where many burial ceremonies have been done, we had a catch up chat about our experiences on the islands and the boys got some fresh oysters from the rocks!

tiwi oyster 4

Art is also a very important part of Tiwi culture and Tiwi is home to some fantastic and well known artists. We visited some amazing art centres on the  islands where most paintings are done with a comb to make a series of dots. 

tiwi art 4Most paintings are done with traditionally made ochres and a specially made dot comb. There are art centres in all the ‘communities’ on the island and the ladies and men work on different projects, they are welcoming and friendly. Tiwi islands has Milimika festival coming up on 3rd and 4th August where people from outside the island may go and enjoy the islands for the weekend to attend the cultural and music festival. If you are interested have a look at Milimika festival website. You can get over there on planes, but there are no ferries running at the moment!

Tiwi artI would like to give a big THANK YOU to Willy Rioili and the rangers on the Tiwi Islands for sharing some of their country with us. Also a big thanks to Red and Mick from CDU who work with the boys! I hope to go back soon.

For more info check out Tiwi Land Council.

tiwi group

A Taste of Tiwi

tiwi boat shedThe Tiwi islands are just 80 km north of Darwin and in many ways a world away.  The islands consist of 2 islands- Bathurst (smaller) and Melville (larger) and have and always will be owned and governed by the Tiwi people, the land is split into 8 areas that are run by 8 family groups. Melville island is actually the 2nd largest ‘Australian’ islands, after Tassie. To visit the Tiwi islands, you need to seek permission and obtain a permit to come onto the Tiwi lands. I was lucky enough to spend a week in the Tiwi recently as part of a Land Management unit that I am undertaking at Charles Darwin uni. The unit looks at Indigenous Land and Sea management and we spent an awesome week hanging out with the Tiwi Rangers and seeing what great work they do on the islands.

tiwi from airCoincidentally Costa had just been on the islands doing a piece for Gardening Australia, and although not a television watcher, Costa’s show are always worth a watch. You can see it on ABC i-view.

tiwi wheel 2So, remote Australian Indigenous communities vary a lot in terms of their food. Many places still eat a lot of bush tucker and go hunting and gathering, and this includes the Tiwi islands. Often fresh supplies from elsewhere are hard to come by and arrive not so fresh or are pretty expensive because of freight and nutrition can be an issue. In some instances fresh veggies are subsidised so freight is not charged and their prices are more appealing. I am always interested in what is on often in community shops and have checked them out when I have been out in Arnhem Land (at Ramingini and Gunbalanya)

tiwi shopTiwi Enterprises is strong on the Tiwi and in Wurrumiyanga, anew shop has been built and run by this island owned corporation. There seemed to be a pretty good supply of veggies in all the shops, more than I imagined.  These veggies (below) were those in the shop at Garden Point (Pirlangimpi)

veggie shop

 The Tiwi community have some pretty great stuff going on, including an amazing garden at Tiwi college, a Tiwi enterprises owned farm and a lot of bush tucker being collected on country.

tiwi college2

The veggies from Tiwi college (above) are used at the school, and the students were pretty happy and proud to show us around their productive garden. Tiwi college is an independent college for high school students and governed by Tiwi Land Council, rather than being a Christian or Catholic School.

tiwi college

Students had been taking work experience in many areas around the island and including their school garden and with the rangers.tiwi college troopy

The Tiwi college farm has chooks, ducks and more and all the students stay with host families during the week, who are mainly Fijian and have productive gardens in their own yards. It was all pretty inspiring. For more facts click “Tiwi College” here

tiwi chookstiwi bananaCombining shop bought and locally grown (bananas from Tiwi college- yum!) Part two post of “A taste of the Tiwi’s” coming soon….


Aahhh Squash it

Squash it real good- Squash (Curcubita pipo) is growing near you and you can grow it too. For all of the dry season this fantastic fruit can be grown. It grows from a  plant similar to zucchini in the cucumber family in full sun and likes fairly nutrient rich growing material. There are a few varieties and the ones seen below are 2 kinds of local button squash. squash itThese fruits (yep technically they are fruit, just like a tomato) are a delicious veggie and are better cooked when smaller and more tender; they are rich in Vitamin A and D. I love them steamed or roasted and then made into salads, with local greens, lentils and even other veggies. They are amazing wacked into a camp oven with loads of garlic, onion and herbs. Fresh herbs and a good amount of olive oil, local lemon or lime juice and a splash of salt finish the dressing to make a beautiful simple meal in the bush or at home.Squah salad 5Above the salad is enjoyed with puy lentils, locally grown salad mix from Dan’s garden and edible local flowers (zinnias) And then below- the perfect veggie to take camping and pop in the camp fire with local zucchinis  and if not going too far from the growing zones, with fresh salad mix and herbs. mmmm

camp fire squah

Enjoyed by all, around the fire (Sophia tucking in below) at Koolpin Gorge

Sophia squah

Enjoyed in the sun, and then later the perfect filling for in a wrap..squah camp sunSquah wrap hat

Dry Delights

I just wanted to share some of the amazing produce growing right now up here in the Top End, some of it in our garden and some of it at nearby market gardens and farms and selling through the market…..and why some of this is so exciting, because it only grows now and we are lucky enough to have it in season in this, not so dry Dry season.

july basketThe most exciting for me are delicious tomatoes, that actually taste like tomatoes and are not trucked in from far away- these are Roma Tomatoes, grown by Jenko’s in Noonama- spray free and sold through Greenies Real Food. The other goodies from Rapid Creek market and our garden are cucumbers, zucchinis, snake gourd (OK you can grow that all year), mint, dill, delicious salad greens from Dan’s Aweganic garden, eggplant (another all rounder) and some edible marigolds!

And here are some chillies, sadly the most abundant thing in our garden, not sadly, but I wish the zucchini would fruit and something would not keep taking the cucumbers…lucky some others are growing some great produce nearby..

chillis bowl