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December 2022 Newsletter

Golly it is December already.

December is such a busy time of the year with consolidating your summer plantings, watering, harvesting, pollinating and beginning to consider your crops for Autumn.

If you would like to contribute to the newsletter or have a notice or event you would like to submit, please email it to

I wish you all a very happy summer solstice as it marches its way towards us. Happy gardening!

Melissa Fogarty, Medowie.

On Saturday the 26th Hunter Organic Grower society visited #8Korekoba Garden to celebrate their monthly field day and at the same time celebrate the end of 2022 and welcome 2023.

Around 20 of our members got together from 2pm until 6pm. Chiala and Nestor had a great time showcasing the various systems they have in place at the property and the various plants and trees they have growing both in the front and their backyards. The chickens and ducks at the property had a brief visit from some of the members. Some members were shown how the cassava plant (source of tapioca flour) grows, the parts that are harvested when ready and were briefly told how to cook it.

Cuttings of various plants were distributed to those members who wanted to try their hand a growing various plants in their own gardens. Various forms of growing pumpkins and tomatoes on trellises were showcased, as well as the benefits of planting acacias as a sources of nitrogen available to other plants when ready. One of the plants that gained notoriety was a type of grass called Vetiver, which is used by the couple to create a natural hedge around the front of the property (natural fence) and as a way to create terraces on a property situated on a slope.

After the tour and talking about the garden, we all gathered to enjoy delicious dishes brought by various members and a little bit of music brought to us by one of our special members, Robert. Robert demostrated what a wonderful world we inhabit by gracing us with music from his clarinet. In the end the day presented itself quite wonderfully; a sunny Saturday afternoon with a gentle breeze, full of amazing people. This wonderful garden provided the final scene to our field days of 2022. We are very much looking forward to continue on our learning and community building journey in the coming years.

Thank you so much Nestor and Chiala for opening your garden to us all and sharing your knowledge of so many different plants.


MEMBER ARTICLE from That Herb Guy

The Elderberry

Greetings to you all. My Elderberry is going gang busters at the moment. It is covered in flowers and they are literally as big as dinner plates. So that prompted me to look into Elder and its uses.

Names. Elderberry is Sambucus nigra. Other names include Black Elder, American Elder, European Elder and common Elder. Some of its names are indications of its uses- Pipe tree and Bore tree. Its name Sambucus being derived from its use as an ancient woodwind instrument. The name Elder comes from Aeld meaning fire being derived from its use to blow up a fire.

History and Folklore. There is nothing common about Elder its history and uses date back to ancient Egypt and Hippocrates. In the folklore of both Christian and Pagan traditions hold Elder in great respect for its medicinal and protection uses. European folklore speaks of Elder Mother, associations with Celtic folklore, its ability to protect from negative spells, to heal and induce vivid dreams of the fairy realm. The medieval church had their stories too associating Elder with sorrow and death. Judas hung himself from its branches and the cross on which Jesus was crucified made from Elder. Elder was used in a variety of burial rituals and in protection from witches. Growing a tree would deter witches from your place. Elder branches have a long history of being used in musical instruments. Shakespeare wrote about in Loves Labours Lost referring to the belief that Judas hung himself on an Elder tree. And it goes on and on.

Growth and Habit 4m x 1.5-10×3m, frost hardy, deciduous, prefers a shaded, protected spot- mine gets no sympathy it’s in full sun. In fact it might get a hard pruning in Autumn- so if anyone wants any cuttings then let me know. You can create a hedge from Elder.

Uses : Medicinal, culinary, skin care, companion plant and many more. Leaves can be made into an insect spray, even mice, aphids, caterpillars and bunches of leaves can be hung to keep flies away. Add the Elder leaves to your compost and the broken down leaves around the base can be added to improve soil elsewhere.

Flowers . I use the flowers for tea, cook them in batter. They can be used in pies, cordials, wine, dyes; even perfume. Berries I read that cold climate helps bring them on. If that’s so my tree in Winmalee must have preferred the colder climate of the upper Blue Mountains and Foster or Union St The Junction must have get chilly. The berries can be used in jams, jellies and wine but the unripe fruit is not good for you. Long used for colds, respiratory problems, flu, hayfever, rheumatism, fevers, pluericy, measles, laryngitis- the list goes on.

They have been made into syrups, tinctures, creams, salves and dyes.

It is a very useful and beautiful tree. If your climate is cold enough in Autumn the tree may even colour up for you. I also add the subject matter is there for information only.

I look forward to catching up with you at our next outing.

By Mike Lorraine (President)


Coming in 2023....

Will from Maplewood Permaculture will share with us an article each month about one of the twelve permaculture design principles. Thanks so much Will, we are looking forward to reading your articles.


Limestone Permaculture Upcoming Xmas Farm Tours !!! Twilight Tour > Wed 7th Dec - 4pm to 7pm Morning Tour > Sun 11th Dec - 9am to 12noon

Join Brett & Nici for a 3hr educational tour of their farm with discussions on permaculture principles, design, element relationships and of course gardening, homesteading & animal management! Christmas colouring in for the kiddies! Farm Fresh Afternoon (Twilight Tour) & Morning Tea (Morning Tour) will be served midway through the tour.

Please register at ‘Upcoming Events’ on our website!

Sow: Amaranth, Basil, Beans, Beetroot, Carrot, Celery, Coriander, Dill, Eggplant, Gourd, Herbs, Kohlrabi, Leek, Lettuce, Nasturtiums, Okra, Parsley, Potato, Pumpkin, Rockmelon, Squash, Sunflowers, Corn, Tomato, Turnips, Watercress, Watermelon, Zucchini

Other jobs to do:

  • water deeply and maintain mulch cover

  • fertilise regularly to replace leached nutrients

  • watch out for mildew on grapes and cucurbits

  • keep compost moist and turn heaps regularly

  • protect crops with shade-cloth on hot days

  • put a fruit-fly control plan in place

  • clear gutters and pipes for harvesting rainfall

  • check irrigation systems and unblock drippers

  • cover your berries with nets

  • clean up your banana suckers

  • check citrus for bronze-orange bugs

  • remember to keep your worms out of the hot sun

  • seed saving from your winter crops

Rhubarb, Plum and Ginger Jam

500g chopped rhubarb

about 6-8 small plums, pipped and halved

10-20cm finely diced ginger

castor sugar

Weigh all the ingredients, measure an equal amount of sugar into an oven proof bowl.

Place all the fruit into a wide bottomed saucepan with a cup of water and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly. Add more water as required. Simmer until rhubarb is soft.

Warm sugar in the oven about 80deg Celsius until warmed through.

Do not cook the sugar.

Gently scoop the warmed sugar into the fruit mixture and bring to the boil, stirring regularly.

Once the jam coats the back of the spoon well, it is ready. Turn off the heat, let it cool for 10 minutes then bottle into sterilised jars. Label and enjoy.

Paterson Farm Gate Saturday mornings from 8am

4-8 Count Street, Paterson for CSA membership information

Earth Market Maitland First and Third Thursday mornings of the month

Maitland City Mall


Raymond Terrace Farmers Markets

Second and Fourth Thursday mornings of the month

Raymond Terrace Rectory



Community Gardens are a great opportunity to talk to the gardeners about what makes their community garden special and to get your hands dirty.

  • LARGS Tuesdays 9:30AM - 1:30PM Please contact Evelyn on 0419492016 for the address and more information

  • MEDOWIE Wednesdays 9:30AM - 12:30PM 6 Waropara Road Medowie, within the Medowie Baptist Church grounds, behind the Church building

  • MEREWETHER 1st Thursday 5PM-7PM 3rd Sunday 8AM - 10AM Townson Oval/Mitchell Park, Merewether

  • NEWCASTLE 1st Sunday of the month 9AM - 2PM Fig Tree Community Garden 20 Albert Street, Newcastle

  • WARATAH/MAYFIELD Wednesday mornings Hunter Multicultural Community Garden 2A Platt St, Waratah

  • SINGLETON 1st & 3rd Sunday of each month Singleton Community Garden 42 Bathurst St, Singleton

If you are part of a community garden, meet up or event then please send us a message so we can share with the Hunter Valley community. Find your local community garden here


Current Committee Members

President - Mike Lorraine

Vice President - Nestor Gutierrez

General Secretary - Gerda Maeder

Treasurer - Tracey Evans

Public Officer - Barbara Nudd

Membership Officer - Melissa Fogarty

Agenda and Minutes Secretary - Karen Miller

Newsletter Editor - Melissa Fogarty

Event Coordinator - Tracey Evans

Website Manager - Bec Evans

Social Media & Publicity - Chiala Hernandez

Tea & Coffee - Jennifer Richards


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