Slow Food Brisbane Newsletter, March, 2019

Hello to all members and friends of Slow Food Brisbane (SFB)

This first newsletter of 2019 is in addition to regular information to our web page face book pages and includes:

  1. Upcoming 2019 Slow Food Brisbane events,
  2. Spotlight on some of our Snail of Approval recipients,
  3. Slow Food issues,
  4. Slow Food International projects, such as the Ark of Taste and Slow Cheese,
  5. The story of our Australorpes.

We would like to invite you to share this newsletter with friends and, of course, we invite you not only to events but also to join Slow Food Brisbane if you are not already members.

  1. 2019 events and ideas at a glance:

March 24th(Sunday) Pastured Eggs, backyard chooks, bagels and coffee Full details below .

April 27th– World Disco Soup Day celebration – Brisbane’s Slow Food Youth Network is holding an event at Food Connect in Salisbury. Check out the details on our Facebook page.

May 13th– Meet Gregie the farmer and milk producer and also learn about how we select our Slow Food Brisbane Snail of Approval awardees – Milton

July 7thSlow and Wild at Mt Mee … details soon.

August a Slow Food and Italian event …

September 13thSchool Kitchen garden event…

October Dale Chapman and Bush tucker event…

November/December Parliament House with chef Andrew McCrae…

Good a fresh and flavorsome seasonal diet that satisfies the senses and is part of our local culture

Clean produced in harmony with the environment and human health

Fair accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for small scale producers.

Join us at our next event:

Sunday 24thMarch,9.30-11.30 am:

Coffee, Bagels, Pastured Eggs and Backyard Chooks.

Slow Food Brisbane joins with QRoasters for a Sunday Brunch

Supporting Local Producers, Artisans, Chefs

Did you know that Australian laws passed in 2018 allow stocking levels of up to 10,000 chickens per hectare for the production of free-range eggs? By way of comparison CSIRO’s recommendation was 1,500 chickens per hectare.

We invite you to join us for brunch at QRoasters, (Slow Food Brisbane Snail of Approval recipient). Your brunch will include delicious freshly baked bagels from Ray the Baker together with scrumptious pastured eggs and QRoasters’ acclaimed freshly roasted sustainable coffee.

Guest speakers:

  • Stuart and Kristy ( who will talk to us about pastured eggs, the true free-range eggs, sourced from an ethical and sustainable farm. Their eggs will be available to buy on the day.
  • Georgina and her young daughter, Phoebe: who will explore the benefits of keeping backyard chickens – the ultimate kitchen waste recycling system.
  • Ray the baker: who will supply the bagels and share his knowledge about and passion for organic bread making.
  • Q Roasters, Lachie and Lee Mary ( who will cook the breakfasts, supply coffees and talk about the importance of sustainable coffee in terms of food biodiversity and Good, Clean and Fair… 

Date:24 March, 2019 at 9.30 am
Venue:QRoasters, 44 Wolverhampton Street, Stafford Qld 4053
Cost:$25 for Slow Food members; $30 for guests; children over 7 $12.50
RSVP:18th March to
Payment:Slow Food Brisbane: Bendigo Bank: Acct: 144743507 BSB: 633 000. Please put your name in the reference field. Bookings are essential and pre payment is necessary.

  1. Spotlight on some of our Snail of Approval recipients: Urbanfarming

In line with the Slow Food Brisbane focus for 2019 – Urban Farming – the following articles, provided by a selection of our Snail of Approval recipients, share some stories and activities devoted to urban food production. Emphasis is given to ways in which individuals and the community generally can be active in our local food production– enhancing the opportunity for good, clean and fair food consumption.

            a. Millen Farm and Arran the farmer – An exciting community activity for Arran from Millen Farm

Our farmer, Arran, has recently returned from Kalumburu – an indigenous community in far North West Western Australia. The goal of the visit was to assist Dr Steven Charlesworth from QUT to establish sustainable fresh food production in the community – just like the market gardens the old folk remember from the mission days.  During the two weeks of the project we achieved the following:

  1. We taught community members:
  1. How to make potting mix using local sources.
  2. How to use the potting mix in various garden beds
  3. How to propagate plants
  4. How to make compost and identify waste streams that go into the compost.
  5. How to make worm farms
  1. We set up a system to make it easier to recycle food scraps, cardboard and garden waste into compost that will feed into the community gardens and fields.
  2. We set up a collaboration with Outback Stores where we can reduce waste from the store and increase resources for the compost piles
  3. We cleaned and revamped a disused community garden area, setting up rock beds and veggie patches.
  4. We built worm farms from repurposed materials.
  5. We repurposed a disused shed from the tip to a garden shed with doors
  6. We taught community members how to take care of banana trees and sweet potatoes.

One important and exciting aspect of the project was the engagement on the part of the younger men, resulting in 4 of them volunteering to take charge of the community garden. This involves being responsible for:

    • Potting mix
    • Compost
    • Worm farm
    • Propagation care
    • Preparation for planting in the field
    • Maintenance and building of community garden

You may be interested in some upcoming activities, workshops and events at Millen Farmfor details please check www. or

      b.  Brisbane Backyard Bees and Paul Wood – How urban dwellers can support honey production:

Brisbane is honeybee heaven – a year-round diversity of flowering plants –which means we don’tneed to feed our bees, contrary to what the commercial industry would have us believe.

However, it is worth observing how the changing climate affects our bees and how the bees respond. The Brisbane season started in August 2018 spectacularly well, with bees bringing in enormous amounts of honey. But as the rain dried up, so did our flowering plants – plants need to suck the moisture from the ground in order to produce nectar. Bees respond to such climatic changes by reducing comb building, honey production and even the queen reduces her egg production so as to reduce the workload on the hive. This is especially the case with hives in the outer suburbs where the forage is made up of predominantly eucalyptus and other native trees where bees are reliant on bush land more than gardens – the trees in these areas are very much at the mercy of the drought. By comparison, inner suburban hives are performing quite well. Whilst showing some signs of slowing production, the bees appear to be benefitting from the greater diversity of vegetation – veggie gardens, fruit trees, flowering herbs that we are all probably keeping alive in spite of the lack of water. So my message to all those with urban backyards: keep up the good work – feed a bee – dig up a corner of your lawn and plant herbs, trees, veggies, anything that flowers. And be assured that if it’s not feeding a honeybee, it is feeding at least some of the 1000 species of Australian native bees as well as other pollinating insects. I stumbled across a prolific bush-basil in someone’s garden last week and it was teeming with half a dozen different species of bee – such a joy!

Interested in sourcing pure, local, raw honey??

If you’d like to sample the produce of your combined gardening efforts and the work of the bees this supports, you can buy pure, raw, Brisbane Backyard honey, most Saturday mornings (not March 9), 9-11am, 65 Royal Parade, Alderley. 0414333069

  1. Slow Food Issues

A key element of the Slow Food philosophy is the protection of the planet. Some alarming facts about the world around us:

  • Plant and animal species as well as fungi, microbes and bacteria are disappearing at a staggering rate, unprecedented in the planet’s history. Each year, 27,000 species are lost forever. That’s three every hour.
  • Every year, we also destroy 10 million hectares of rainforest (in Borneo, Amazonia and Africa) in order to make way for oil palms and fields of soy.
  • The mangrove forests and coral barriers, home to numerous species and offering vital protection to the coasts, have already been reduced by 35% and 20% respectively.
  • In 2007, honey bees, which pollinate many of the vegetables we eat, began suffering mass die-offs. In Europe, morta- lity rates were around 20%, while in the United States they reached over 40% during the 2013/2014 winter.

A study carried out in 2011 by researchers at the University of Exeter predicted the permanent disappearance of one in ten species by the end of the century. We are witnessing what is becoming known as the sixth mass extinction. During the fifth, 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs died out. Yet there is a substantial difference between this current extinction and those of the past. This global ecological crisis is being caused by humans.

In the last 70 years, we have destroyed three-quarters of the agro-biodiversity carefully selected by farmers over the previous 10,000 years.

The equilibrium was destroyed when we began running farms like industrial factories. Industry has no time for the rhythms of nature. It has no seasons and no patience. It must always mass produce, in large quantities, as quickly as possible. Industrial agriculture began in the United States after the Second World War as the military machine was restructured. Ammonium nitrate, one of the main components in explosives, proved to be an excellent ingredient in the production of fertilizers. Previously, soil was enriched by rotating crops with legumes like beans and peas and by using animal manure. But suddenly it became easy to buy fertilizers, as well as pesticides, herbicides and fuel for machinery. In effect, we began feeding ourselves with oil.

Source: A bite sized Slow Ffood booklet is a great way to understand what Slow Food is all about: (

  1. Slow Food International projects (

Every day 72 plant varieties or animal species disappear. We are losing traditions, customs, knowledge, and rural areas at an alarming rate. Through more than 10,000 activities in projects like the Ark of Taste, the Presidia, the Gardens in Africa, the Chefs’ Alliance, and the Earth Markets, Slow Food is building better, smaller-scale agriculture, in more than 160 countries around the globe, that respects the environment and ecosystems, to provide good, clean and fair food for all.

      a.  Slow Food Ark of Taste

The Ark of Taste was created to point out the existence of these products, draw attention to the risk of their extinction within a few generations, invite everyone to take action to help protect them. In some cases, this might be by buying and consuming them, in some by telling their story and supporting their producers, and in others, such as the case of endangered wild species, this might mean eating less or none of them in order to preserve them and favour their reproduction. The Ark of Taste travels the world collecting small-scale quality productions that belong to the cultures, history and traditions of the entire planet: an extraordinary heritage of fruits, vegetables, animal breeds, cheeses, breads, sweets and cured meats…

The Queensland Bunya nut is on the Ark of Taste

The Bunya nut is a bush tucker food. Aboriginal tribes either roasted them on a fire, ground them into a paste or flour, cooked up into little cakes, or eat them raw, boiled, or roasted in coals.The nuts were an important food source for Aboriginal people in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

The largest stand of bunya pines in the world is in the Bunya Mountains National Park 200km north-west of Brisbane. “They say the bunya pine is about 200 million years old, the individual trees we have here are possibly up to 800 years old,” (head ranger Kelvin Quinn

Did you know?

  • Each cone can contain up to 100 nuts and can weigh up to 10 kilograms.
  • It’s believed dinosaurs ate the cones whole.
  • The Bunya pine tree flowers every 3-4 years

      b.  Slow Cheese: Affineur, Cheese Mongers

The affineur, who ages the cheese, has to know everything about many different types of cheese. They must identify and choose the best forms and recognize the potential of fresh cheeses, which is expressed only when they are aged in ideal conditions. And these conditions change depending on the cheese. Aging strengthens the structure and allows flavour and fragrance to develop, producing a unique result for each cheese thanks to the complex alchemy between environment, space and time, together with the presence and balance between three key ingredients: water, air and temperature. Wood, straw, stone and earth are their allies, helping them to maintain and stabilize the environment in their cheese caves. This very delicate equilibrium requires the constant attention of a skilled affinuer.

We have our very own skilled affinuer – Wendy Downes from The Cheeseboardat Stafford.

Wendy studied affinage in France. Working in the Mons caves at St Haon le Chatel, and many years of travelling has exposed her to cheeses from around the world. She enjoys and respects all cheeses, but her passion is Australian cheeses. Especially unique cheeses made by small producers.

The Cheeseboard has grown from a respect for good cheese and passion for local food. Fuelled by a belief that small scale farmers, including dairy farmers, should be able to earn a living, Wendy Downes, the founder, started learning as much as she could about cheese. Its history, the science, how to make it and how to age it. However, as an experiential learner, Wendy’s most valuable lessons have come from eating cheese and enjoying it with wine and beer.

With this knowledge, The Cheeseboard, an affinage business aimed at supporting Australian artisan cheese, was born.

  1. The story of our Australorpes

Today almost all laying hens are ISA browns. The name ISA comes from the Institute for Selection of Animals in France and they are highly selected layers. They are laying-machines, however they do not live very long and if you want a meat bird you need a different breed altogether.

However, Australia used to have a national chicken breed and it was world famous.  In the 1920’s Australian chicken breeders crossed Rhode Island Reds from America with Black Orpingtons from Kent. The Black Orpingtons were already known as good layers and good for meat and the Rhode Island Reds were a large leggy breed. There could also be some White Leghorn from Tuscany and Langshan from China mixed in. The result was called Australian Utility Black Orpington but this was too much of a mouthful, so it was shortened to Australorp. They became Australia’s national chicken.

It was the egg laying performance of Australorps that attracted world attention when in 1922, a team of six hens set a world record by laying 1,857 eggs for an average of 309.5 eggs per hen during a 365 consecutive day trial. It must be remembered that these figures were achieved without the lighting regimens of the modern intensive shed. Such performances had importation orders flooding in from all over the world. Well looked after Australorps lay approximately 250 light-brown eggs per year. A new record was set when a hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days. They are also known to be good nest sitters and mothers, making them one of the most popular large, heritage utility breeds of chicken.

I am sure many of us remember those big glossy black chooks. Now they are quite rare and ISA browns are everywhere. Perhaps they warrant being included on the Ark of Taste to ensure they do not pass into history.

Slow food brings together pleasure of taste and responsibility for what we eat.

Some of you may already know the origins of slow food but it really makes a story worth repeating and is a far cry from what many people think when they hear “slow Food” talked about.

Slow food was founded in 1989 in Italy to counteract fast foodand globalization, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the world around us. Slow Food’s approach to agriculture is based on a concept of food quality defined by three interconnected principles:

Recently Endangered Foods have been highlighted. Slow Food is creating an “Ark of Taste” of endangered fruits, vegetables, plants, crops, seeds, animals within all countries with a view to protecting food biodiversity, everyday tastes and pleasures of eating good foods, creating an awareness of locally produced foods and spreading that knowledge. In addition we are actively involved in promoting the importance of taste experiences and taste education through school kitchen gardens. Our goal is to establish relationships with farmers and producers in order to protect food biodiversity.