Open GArden at Lakeside Drive Community Garden

There are some wonderful community gardens around Darwin where you can meet knowledgeable people who grow veggies during the whole year and value community.

This Sunday Lakeside Drive Community Garden is hosting an Open Garden.

Anyone is invited to come along and check out the garden, meet members, work for the dole participants and express their interest in joining.

Some cultural poles have been placed in the garden by the City of Darwin Council and there will be an opening ceremony too.

There are some plots that will be made available to the community and if you are interested you can register.and find out more about how to get involved.

There will be garden tours, a quick snapshot of what to grow in the wet season and some local garden tea making demos by the GULP project.

So please come along



Eat Local Feed Global- an outdoor delight

As part of our GULP project had a wonderful food share and work shop at the Mulch Pit in Rapid Creek this November for Eat Local, Feed Global Oxfam campaign that highlights the craziness of our food systems and how eating local can help others further away!.

talk crowdThe night was a beautiful twighlight evening and raised money  for a great cause and let us share some food and recipes at the same time as show casing the origins of the food- in the gardens!

Penny tour There was a local food dish bring a dish competition which GULP NT (Bhavini and Emma) were the judges of.  It was hard to judge because all the dishes were so excellent.

We loved the use of local eggs in the great frittata style dishes and will be popping some recipes like this on line and in the book-

FrittataThere were also some amazing curries and of particular note was one that used entirely plants from the garden as the paste- lemon grass, Thai basil, kaffir lime leaves, limes and I think even the green paw paw (the main ingredient) was local and the coconut milk. This was made by Fiona and we decided took the prize- a fair trade food package wit local harvest! (Fiona Left, Emma- GULP- right)

sonya wins prize

Louise also made a great curry, but someone at the market had made the paste for her (mainly local though)

And Lucy’s salad was quite remarkable, the use a typical savoury root veg.  (sweet potato) with pineapple, coconut and herbs and a splash of oil. Delicious!

Pineapple and sweet potato salad


A wonderful evening of many in The Mulch Pit….more coming up and recipes to be put at

Great Green Mango Salad

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden (SAKG) team were up in Darwin, doing kitchen training with teachers or specialists, as 5 new schools have jumped on board the program in Darwin. I ran the program at Alawa Primary School for 3 years and was really happy to be asked to lunch and see what delights were being made and catch up with the crew. The menu was beautiful, made in Driver Primary school’s amazing kitchen and so great to see more primary schools jumping onboard this life changing program. I will write more about it later, but would love to just add in this great salad which was made in the session by Mel. It is very like a green pawpaw salad but uses Mango, and as they are in season is just perfect.

Mango raw saladIt involves some skilful chopping of the green mango, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, palm sugar, chilli, thai basil and that is about it. I will ask Mel for the exact proportions, but it is worth a go playing with the sweet, sour, salty and hot balance of all wonderful Asian cooking. More info on the SAKG program too!

Seasonal Salads in Healthy Darwin

So many great things growing through the dry season, but you can feel the heat building- and it makes me want to share the harvest of the dry season in delicious recipes before they start to wilt and droop and we swap over to the delights of the wet season.

tasting 1Once again I have been teaching the Healthy Darwin cooking and gardening program. This time it is back in Karama and Malak. This program is aimed at people who are not employed full time and/ or have a low income, have signed up for healthy Darwin and would like to learn some basic tropical gardening and cooking for a healthier lifestyle.amber plusOur first session looked at exactly this- Seasonal (mainly dry season) harvest into fresh and healthy salads. It was a hit.


The star of the show was the amazing salad mix from Dan at Aweganic gardens, which I eat heaps of everyday. The mix has mizuna (red, purple and green) lollo rosso lettuce, cos lettuce, darwin lettuce, baby kale (3 varieties) amaranth, baby sweet potato leaves, kang kong, baby radish leaves, ruby chard, baby pak choi, tatsoi, rocket, cosmos petals, marigold petals, zinnia petals, all grown organically with love in permaculture ways on an 800m2 house block in Rapid Creek. If you want to check it out Dan opens his doors on Wednesday Mornings for the next few weeks..His Harvestival is on Friday 13th at 32 Cummins St.

zuc saald 2With this great mix we made a grilled zucchini, rissoni salad with roasted nuts, feta and a lemon honey, garlic and sumac dressing. The recipe is now on the recipe page. This picture I took at home and is minus the rissoni. We also made pumpkin risotto, a puy lentil and roasted tomato salad and roasted green pawpaw with macadamia nuts and these great salad greens.

lentil tom

We made the most of tomato season and the ample harvest growing everywhere including Karama Primary school’s garden and all the local herbs of the cool season- like my favourite- dill! Below is our risotto which includes pumpkin, which can grow all year..pump risottoAnd finally our Roast pawpaw pieces. These recipes and more are now on the Recipes Page. For more info on the program, click the Healthy Darwin link.

raost pawpaw 2

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….