Monday, June 29, 2009

Oranges and Lemons, the bells of St Clements


Originating in Asia thousands of years ago, the navel orange is one of the most popular fruits in the world. Navel Oranges are amazing at this time of the year, reaching the peak around July/August. They have excellent flavour, luscious and juicy. Perfectly delicious way to get your winter dose of vitamin c for the day(116.2% of required Vitamin C), the humble orange packs quite a punch. Used as a remedy for a hangover, one of the phytonutrients herperidin has been shown to lower high blood pressure as well as cholesterol and to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Importantly, most of this phytonutrient is found in the peel and inner white pulp of the orange.

"The Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits," released December 2003 by Australian research group, CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research), reviews 48 studies that show a diet high in citrus fruit provides a statistically significant protective effect against some types of cancer, plus another 21 studies showing a non-significant trend towards protection.
Citrus appears to offer the most significant protection against esophageal, oro-phayngeal/laryngeal (mouth, larynx and pharynx), and stomach cancers. For these cancers, studies showed risk reductions of 40 - 50%.

WHY ORGANIC ORANGES?:A study by Truman State University, Missouri found that organic oranges contained up to 30% more vitamin c than conventional oranges. They are also free of all the nasty toxic chemicals placed on most conventional orchards.

Non organic (conventional) orange orchards are subjected to multiple heavy applications of potentionally toxic chemicals (which include but not limited to: oxyethylenes, carbaryl, diazinon, paraquat etc) After harvesting oranges are washed and treated with a fungacide and waxed before sale to protect them from mould.

Second Bite

We dont believe in wasting one bit of our precious organic foods and donate all our surplus produce to an amazing company called Second Bite. 'SecondBite is a dynamic not-for-profit organisation committed to making a positive difference by sourcing fresh nutritious food that would otherwise go to waste and redistributing it to people who are homeless, living in disadvantaged circumstances or experiencing food security* issues within the community.' Support these guys where you can, helping the world go round.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Global Clean-up Project

I hope to see you all at our next rubbish pick this coming Sunday. Please note that our very enthusiastic Laurence will be co-ordinating the rubbish pick up in the South.

Did you know that every year some 45,000 tons of plastic waste are dumped into the world's oceans? Plastic waste is lethal, killing up to one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year.
(Extract taken from: You can save the Planet: A Day in the Life of Your carbon Footprint)

Come and help us pick up as much rubbish as we can, before it reaches the ocean. Together we can make the difference that counts.

Please feel free to invite family and friends.

The most profound changes start by our every day choices…

Date: Sunday, 28 June 2009
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Location 1:
Mitcham Railway Station
Railway car park:
Mitcham Rd, Mitcham
Melway Ref: Map 48 K-9
Co-ordinator: Rose Italiano
Contact: 0425-796-382 Location 2:
Holmesglen Railway Station Railway Car Park:
Argyll St, Chadstone
Melway Ref: Map 69 F-1
Co-ordinator: Laurence Poncin
Contact: 0420-802-044

To attend please choose one of the above locations.

Bring your gloves, a hat, drinking water, sunscreen, and please wear protective shoes.

• Please bring your mobile phone with you and have it switched on.

• If you are unable to join us, you can take individual action collecting rubbish. Bags of trash you collect can be added to our global tally.

Many blessings and thank you for your participation.

Rose Italiano

Monday, June 22, 2009

Eveyone can afford to eat organic

The reality is that everyone can eat organic foods,organic foods are not that expensive. If you look and compare you will see that the price of organic foods (from the organic empire ;-) vs conventional foods from the supermarket, that alot of the time the prices are not that different. Organic's are sometimes the same price.
1. So the first thing to do is to break your dependancy on the supermarket chains, great creative look elsewhere for your fresh produce, research online home delivery services, retail outlets, farmers markets or better still plant some fresh produce in your yard, and if you are limited with space, in some pots. (Contact us if you want some advice or some organic heritage seeds.

Where there is a will there is a way!!!!
2. Stick to what is in season, for example at the moment, pumpkin is a great price, so eat pumpkin, breakfast, lunch and tea,(Ok so maybe I took that a little far), but you get it, eat what nature provides for us according to the seasons. Of course if you want mango's in the middle of winter they are going to cost a good portion of your food budget, becuase they just dont grow around here is winter.

3. Keep away from processed and packaged foods,even if they are organic. Fill yourself up with vitamins and minerals from fresh produce. Eat how nature intended, it will also save you money in doctors bills later on. Eat well to live well!

Asthma and Allergies

Allergies & Asthma

Change is in the Air
Spring is often thought of as the time for allergies, but really any change of season can trigger allergies and asthma. But what is it about moving into autumn & winter that gets you itching and sneezing? For many people a drop in the temperature is enough of a trigger, and when the humidity drops the air becomes drier and is more likely to irritate a sensitive respiratory system. You may be bringing winter clothes out of storage in moth balls and dust is being stirred up. All of these and more could trigger your allergies or asthma. In our practice we have been investigating new natural solutions to provide greater relief from allergy symptoms than ever before.

Allergies are nothing to sneeze at!
While allergy and asthma appear to be caused by outside triggers, such as dust, pollen, dry air and stressful events, the underlying problem actually lies within us. Both allergy and asthma occur when a particular part of our immune system is out of balance. Our immune system is designed to protect us from infections and to keep us healthy. Allergy occurs when your immune system mistakes something that is normally harmless as being a threat to you and while “protecting” you from it, creates a strong inflammatory response. This inflammatory response is what produces the symptoms that you experience as allergy. In asthma this inflammation presents as difficulty breathing or may trigger an asthma attack.

Breathe Easy; Help is at Hand
Many of us know licorice as a confectionery, but did you know that licorice is a very effective herb for the treatment of allergy and asthma? Licorice is an immune regulator, meaning that it helps to bring a wayward immune system back into balance. Licorice is particularly helpful at relieving all types of allergy as well as asthma, because it addresses the underlying immune problem in these conditions. Importantly, you won’t get this same effect from just eating the lolly; you need the strong herbal formula to do the trick. In addition there are herbs that can prevent and treat eczema, dermatitis, itching skin and eyes and hay fever which tells us that their benefit actually comes from correcting the underlying immune problem. Herbs do not just suppress symptoms, but create real healing, genuinely improving your health.

We have the Skills and Experience to Help You
So whether you need help with occasional hay fever or suffer with persistent asthma or irritating dermatitis, we have the formula to help you. As your naturopath I have the experience and skills to prescribe the most suitable treatment for your needs and help you to understand how to achieve your health potential. Call today to make an appointment to review your immune health and discuss what can be done to keep you in top shape.

Marisa Camilleri - Naturopath
Melbourne Suite 15 / 12 Collins St 9663 5940
Williamstown 95 Douglas Parade 9397 7885

* Specialist in Fat Loss, Wellness & Preventative care * Naturopathy * Herbal Medicine * Homeopathy * Nutritional & dietary advice * Ear candling * Bioimpedance Analysis (BIA)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Farmers are the Solution, this is the truth

This is an article that is available on

Farmers are the solution©

There is growing concern and attention being directed to climate change and the environment. It is the farmers who can solve our environment problems - everyone else can slow the process of creating carbon emissions but only farmers can reverse them.

1. CARBON: "We require only 10% of our productive, degraded lands to absorb the estimated 6.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions to make a carbon negative world possible in our lifetime" Note: biological carbon sequestration is very different to carbon GEOsequestration, a physical process.

2. SOIL: Australia loses 6.97 tonnes of soil per hectare per year across the entire continent. Humus holds the soil as well as increasing drought tolerance

3. WATER: In a river catchment basin such as the River Murray (1,057,000 square Kilometres) a 2% increase in humus would equate to an increase in water –holding capacity of 33,824 gigalitres of water (which is approximately equivalent to one Olympic pool per 10 hectares).

4. ECONOMY: Australia imports approximately $4 billion in agricultural chemicals. This is approximately $30,000 per farmer. If we can free ourselves from this requirement we have more resources: $4 billion - to spend in local communities - annually.

Politicians can encourage and scientists inform, only the farmers can achieve outcomes on the scale required, effective immediately.

Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd is a not-for-profit, national, membership association with over 1,200 members. We educate, train and support farmers in the adoption of carbon efficient agriculture and the implementation of sustainable methods that are environmentally regenerative, simple and low cost to apply as well as providing high quality food and fibre.

Hamish Mackay,


August, 2007

Further information

The loss of water holding ability in Australian soils has initiated a devastating cycle of terrestrial and marine degradation ranging from the visible effects of soil erosion to the slower and more insidious effects of dryland salinity, acidity and marine sedimentation. p6

The British Royal Society has estimated potential carbon dioxide sequestration on the worlds 2.5 billion acres of agricultural soils at 6.1 to 10.1 billion U.S. tons per year for the next 50 years.

Physical Processes of Humus Formation
Kay (1997) describes the formation of stable humus in the soil as a physical process by which humus material and inorganic matter interact; protecting the organic carbon from further microbial attack and in the process, sequestering organic carbon. p8

Water-Holding Capacity Increase for One Hectare for Varying Levels of Humus Increase

Using the guideline ratio, which has been established for additional water retention the following gains can be expected.

Humus Increase Increased Volume of Water Retained /ha (to 30 cm)
(OC% x 4,000,000kg x 4)
0.5% 80,000 litres (average 2004 level)
1 % 160,000 litres
2 % 320,000 litres
3 % 480,000 litres
4 % 640,000 litres
5 % 800,000 litres (pre-settlement level)

The Clarence Valley catchment has an area of 2,300,000 ha, a 0.5% increase in humus (organic carbon) would therefore store an additional 184,000,000,000 litres of water following an adequate rainfall event. p11

Green Revolution

“Irrigated farming takes two-thirds of all water abstracted from rivers and underground reserves. This is largely because of the green revolution. The ‘high yielding’ plant varieties that have kept the world fed as populations doubled over the past 30 years turn out to be high-yielding only when measured against land area. Measured against water use, they are generally worse than the crops they replaced. They produce less crop per drop.

The world grows twice as much food as it did a generation ago, but abstracts three times as much water to do it.”

Guardian Weekly; Supplement Every Last Drop, p 2, September 29 – October 5 2006 Vol 175/No 15/Printed in Sydney. The article is based on When the Rivers Run Dry, by Fred Pearce, published by Eden Project Books.

See also DVD: How to Save the World available $30 incl.GST p&p at

Friday, June 19, 2009

What is Biodynamic farming?

Biodynamics is a regenerative agriculture, holistic in approach and practice, through which the farmer and gardener brings the substances and forces of nature into a quality and sustainable production.

Biodynamics - Tools for making organics easier
Let increased soil biology work for you
Strengthens plants and animals against stress
Optimise growth cycles using lunar and cosmic rhythms
Quality Produce
Tastes good
Reflects the essence of your farm or garden
With increased shelf life
Cost Effective
Reduced fertility inputs
Premium quality products
Consistent production and high net returns
Biodynamic Preparations
Create deeper soil and root depth
Increases water holding capacity of soils - good in drought and flood
Improve plant and animal health and yield, reducing weeds and pests
The Grower
Empowerment of human skills - understanding of natural cycles
Increased professional satisfaction
Health for individual, family, farm and customer

A healthy, well-structured soil, rich in humus and high in biological activity is a prerequisite for any sustainable agricultural system.

Decades of experience with the Biodynamic (BD) method on Australian farms have shown that these soil qualities can be promoted and degradation reversed by the correct application of BD techniques.

Mixed farms practising the Biodynamic method have been in existence for over 65 years with none showing any evidence of loss of fertility or productivity.

Biodynamic practitioners seek to understand and work with the life processes as well as enhance their understanding of the mineral processes used in conventional agriculture. Healthy soil is a prime basis for healthy plants, animals and people.

BD farming practices are of an organic nature, not relying on bringing artificial fertilisers on to the farm, although some organic or natural mineral fertiliser may be necessary during the establishment phase.

On Biodynamic farms we seek instead to enhance the soils structure and nutrient cycles as well as plant growth and development with the use of specific Preparations which are made from farm-sourced materials.

These are the Biodynamic Preparations numbered 500 to 507 used in conjunction with established agricultural practices such as composting and manuring, crop and pasture rotations, tree planting, the integrated use of livestock, etc. As the name suggests, these Preparations are designed to work directly with the dynamic biological processes and cycles which are the basis of soil fertility.

Pest and disease control is generally managed by developing the farm as a total organism. However, BD practitioners may make use of specific products for weed and pest control, which they make from the weeds and pests themselves.

Weeds and pests are very useful indicators of imbalances in soil, plants and animals; and the aim in the Biodynamic method is to use such indicators in a positive way.

The Biodynamic Preparations were developed out of indications by Dr Rudolf Steiner in 1924. They are not fertilisers themselves but greatly assist the fertilising process. As such they only need to be used in very small amounts.

Horn Manure Preparation (500) is used to enliven the soil, increasing the microflora and availability of nutrients and trace elements. Through it the root growth, in particular, is strengthened in a balanced way, especially the fine root hairs. Develops humus formation, soil structure and water holding capacity.

Horn Silica Preparation (501) enhances the light and warmth assimilation of the plant, leading to better fruit and seed development with improved flavour, aroma, colour and nutritional quality.

Compost Preparations (502 to 507), known collectively as the compost preparations, help the dynamic cycles of the macro- and micro-nutrients, via biological processes in the soil and in material breakdown.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cuba's Urban Agriculture Movement

By Sinan Koont

Over the last fifteen years, Cuba has developed one of the most successful examples of urban agriculture in the world. Havana, the capital of Cuba, with a population of over two million people, has played a prominent, if not dominant role, in the evolution and revolution of this type of agriculture. The phrase "urban agriculture in Cuba" has a somewhat different meaning, simultaneously more and less restrictive than might appear at a first glance. It is more inclusive, as it allows for large expanses, urban fringes, and suburban lands.

For example, the entire cultivated area of the Province of the City of Havana belongs to urban agriculture. This definition includes land that is much more rural than urban-some of the city's municipalities (or boroughs) in the eastern and southwestern parts of the city have relatively low population densities, around 2,300 to 3,500 people per square mile versus around 50,000 to 100,000 per square mile in the densely populated parts. As a result, more than 35,000 hectares (over 87,000 acres) of land are being used in urban agriculture in Havana!1 The serious development of urban agriculture in Cuba began simultaneously with the disappearance of petrochemical inputs, such as fertilizers and pesticides, from Cuban markets. Consequently, urban production uses only biological fertilizers and biological and cultural pest control techniques. The limited quantities of petrochemicals available are employed for a few non-urban crops such as sugar, potatoes, and tobacco. In Cuba, the distinction between organic and urban is hardly worth making, as almost all urban agriculture follows organic practices.

The necessity for Cuba to turn to urban and organic agriculture in the early 1990s is both well known and understood. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the ending of trade with COMECON on rather favorable terms spelled the end of the Soviet-style, large-scale, industrial agriculture that Cuba had been practicing since at least the 1970s. Almost overnight, diesel fuel, gasoline, trucks, agricultural machinery, spare parts for trucks and machinery, as well as petrochemical-based fertilizers and pesticides, all became very scarce. In view of the severe crisis in food production, a shift to urban agriculture seemed an obvious and necessary solution: urban production minimized transportation costs and smaller-scale production minimized the need for machinery. Agro-ecological production (applying the principles of ecology to agricultural practices), in part, necessitated production sites near the living areas of large concentrations of people, and at the same time avoided the use of toxic petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides, which were no longer available.

Less well known, but perhaps equally important, are the reasons of prudence and national security that had been pushing Cuba in this direction since the 1970s. Cuba had been, and still is, under a partial blockade by the United States. Even more threatening, and ever-present, is the possibility of a total blockade of the island. Early on, scientific institutions started researching the possibility of import substitution in production, including agricultural production, which would make the island less dependent on imported goods.2 At the same time, within the Ministry of Defense (and not the Ministry of Agriculture, which was committed to industrial, high-input agriculture) and institutions such as the National Institute of State Reserves (INRE), programs were started to study potential responses to a complete cut-off of petroleum imports. It was during a visit to the Armed Forces Horticultural Enterprise on December 27, 1987, that Raul Castro, as minister of defense, encouraged the introduction of a technology later widely employed in urban agriculture.

General Moises Sio Wong-head of INRE-recounted this visit to Raul Castro ten years later during another visit: a woman agricultural engineer, referred to by Sio Wong simply as "Ingeniera Anita," had carried out some successful experiments growing vegetables without using petrochemicals.3 Castro had suggested the desirability of generalizing this method of cultivation. Thus, beginning December 1987, four years before the demise of the Soviet Union, the so-called organoponicos, rectangular-walled constructions-roughly thirty meters by one meter-containing raised beds of a mixture of soil and organic material such as compost, started being installed in armed forces facilities.

It was, however, not until the end of 1991, that the first "civilian" organoponico in Havana was put into operation in a two-acre, empty lot across the street from the INRE Headquarters in the Miramar district of Havana. Since then, the organoponico has become one of the mainstays of vegetable cultivation in Cuban urban agriculture.4

Thus, by the time the crisis made the shift of agricultural production to cities unavoidable, at least some parts of the Cuban institutional structure were able to respond with technologies, policies, and practices that had been developed for a lengthy period of time preceding the crisis.

By 1994, an organization was created to oversee the systematic introduction of organoponicos and intensive gardens into urban agriculture. In 1997 this was converted into the Urban Agriculture National Movement. Conditions of access to land underwent considerable change. Before the crisis, land was either privately held and worked by owners or it was state-owned and worked by employees. Now, in addition, land was distributed to individuals (as parcelos [plots], with the individuals being called parceleros) and cooperatives. New cooperative forms-with or without a collectively cultivated, jointly held area-came into being. A Credit and Services Cooperative (CCS) typically brought together plots and willing pre-existing private farms.5

In addition, there are patios (privately owned home gardens producing primarily for family consumption), individual plots, state farms, and areas de autoconsumo (state enterprises producing food for the consumption of their own workers).

Grow your own wheat, make your own bread said the little red hen

Freshly ground wheat flour has a high vitamin content; vitamins that degrade all too quickly when exposed to the air. The whole grain flour that we buy from stores is often quite stale and may have significantly reduced vitamin content when compared to freshly ground.

(from Planting a plot approximately 10 feet by 10 feet will, when all is said and done, yield between 10 and 25 loaves of bread. To begin, find a nice backyard plot and choose the type of wheat you wish to plant. In the United States two varieties are grown, white and red. Red wheat is more common. Red wheat also produces bread with a much more intense flavor. Consider the advantages of growing winter wheat as opposed to spring variety.

Winter wheat can be planted from late-September to mid-October. It is the preferred variety because it tends to be more nutritious than spring wheat, protects the soil in the winter, and has less competition from the weeds in the spring. Try to plant early enough to get a good root system growing before winter dormancy sets in, but not so early that flies and pests become a problem. Spring wheat is planted in early spring and is most commonly found in the northern reaches of the country where the intensely cold winters create problems for winter wheat.

Finding a source for seeds can be a problem. Seed supply houses usually sell in large quantities to farmers and are not geared to individuals wanting to make a small plot in their back yard. The seeds they provide can also be laced with fungicide. Still, this is the best place to begin. You can also find wheat seed at your local natural food stores. The grain in the bins may be planted as well as eaten, just be sure you know whether you are getting winter or spring wheat so that you plant in the proper season.

Try to plant the seed on good rich soil. The ground should be relatively even. This can be done with a rototiller, or more naturally with a shovel and a rake. There are three methods of planting, one is the time honored broadcast method in which 3 ounces or so of seed is "sprinkled" over the garden bed for every 100 square feet. This is about 1 seed for every square inch. Planting density is largely dependent on the richness and moistness of the soil. More wheat per square feet will absorb more nutrients and moisture. Be sure to rake the patch to cover the seed and protect it from hungry birds. Another method, called drilling, creates a hole about every six inches and plants several seeds per hole. The plants come up in a bunch but spread out over the bare area. This method allows for weeding when the plants are young, but is more labor intensive. Similarly, tightpacked rows (about 6 inches apart) can be made in the soil and the wheat seed spread up and down the rows in the manner of beets or carrots.

Wheat harvest usually occurs in June when the wheat begins to turn a golden color but still has a few streaks of green. Using a scythe or some other sharp blade, mow down the stalks then tie them into bundles, standing them upright in the garden patch. Then allow the grain to fully ripen into a golden color.

Twine could be used to tie the bundles, but the traditional method is to take about an inch thick bunch of stems. Tie the lower end, binding the stalks together. Then wrap them around the bundle tying the head and foot of the stalks at about the middle of the bundle, creating a shock.

Keep the heads dry, then thresh and winnow at your leisure. The simplest form of threshing involves grasping a quantity of ripe wheat in one hand and beating it around the inside of a barrel. The grain falls off the stalks and the stalks are discarded or composted.

Winnowing is the process of separating the wheat from the chaff and small bits of straw. Since time immemorial this has been done by pouring the wheat from one container to another in a stiff breeze. The breeze blows away the chaff and the resulting wheat is as pure a product as you may easily produce. Absent a stiff breeze, a fan may be used.

Your wheat is now ready for storage. Wheat may be stored in barrels, bags or what-have-you. The basic requirements are that the space be cool, dry and pest-free (think rodent and bug).

Throw some in a blender or food processor and grind to flour consistency.

Start with a half cup of whole grain. Turn the blender up to its highest speed. If the blender seems to bog down, stop and reduce the amount of grain. Add a larger amount for the next batch if the blender handled the original half cup sufficiently. Continue to grind the grains until they reach the consistency desired. Grind the grain in batches until the desired amount is achieved.

Pick your favorite pasta, pancake, bread, cookie or muffin recipe and start baking!

Organic Bytes

Some Organic News,

-A new Organic Trade report reveals sales of organic products in 2008 grew 17.1% over the previous year. Organic food sales grew more than three times the rate of nonorganic food sales.

-According to the Journal of Applied Nutrition, organically grown fruits and vegetables have significantly higher nutritional content than conventional produce: "Organically grown apples, wheat, sweet corn, potatoes and pears were examined over a 2 year period and were 63% higher in calcium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, 178% higher in molybdenum, 91% higher in phosphorus, 125% higher in potassium and 60% higher in zinc than conventionally grown produce." In addition, organic meats were not only found to be leaner, but also have about five times the omega-3s.

-In a conventional diet, we are exposed to over 70 pesticide-related pollutants on a daily basis. A recent 2009 report found that switching to an organic diet reduces pesticide exposure by over 95%.

-The Environmental Working Group published a list of the 12 most pesticide ridden foods based on 87,000 tests. Nectarines, peaches, apples, strawberries and imported grapes topped the list. The most pesticide-free non-organic produce includes onions, avocados, and sweet corn.

By Ethan Huff
NaturalNews, June 5, 2009