Giving back

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Giving back
15th August, 2018

The Co-op’s charitable donations are making a difference in the community.

Photo: Vigil outside the Windsor office of Macquarie MP, Susan Templeman, to mark five years detention on Manus and Nauru and 12 deaths.

End of financial year (EOFY) at the Co-op involves some serious number crunching, a bout of tedious auditing and the much more rewarding task of sharing a percentage of our profits. And while we regularly donate to various local community groups and social justice organisations throughout the year – including Katoomba Community Neighbourhood Centre, Mid Mountains Community Hub, Aboriginal Culture and Resource Centre, Earth Recovery/Food Rescue at Junction 142, and Blue Mountains Cancer Help – this financial year we were also able to make some extra donations to deserving local community groups.

Among them is the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group (BMRSG) which champions the rights of, and provides practical assistance to asylum seekers and refugees in western Sydney.

George Winston, Fundraising Coordinator at BMRSG, says the money received from the Co-op will be used to continue their vital work. “The Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group committee is hugely grateful for the cash donation from the Co-op which will help us to maintain 76 asylum seeker families in western Sydney,” Mr Winston says. “We help people with food, school supplies, medical costs, rent assistance and other essentials, so cash injections are crucial.”

Photo: Two ‘Nannas’ knitting at the Blue Mountains Music Festival to invite people to ask about the treatment of those seeking asylum.

There are currently 480 members of the BMRSG but Mr Winston says they are always looking for people who can donate skills, money and energy to the cause.

“Some of our members visit asylum seekers in western Sydney and detainees in Villawood Detention Centre. And we have a community and political advocacy group that works with schools and other organisations to increase awareness and influence politicians, so there are many ways to get involved,” he says.

To become a member or donate to the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group go to www.bmrsg.org.au or contact George Winston directly on funds@bmrsg.org,au or 0490 179347.

Child’s play

Another beneficiary was Katoomba North Public School who received a donation to help fund improvements to the playground. Principal, Cathy Clark, says the money was greatly appreciated. “The support of the Food Co-op means that together with P & C fundraising we will have sufficient money to grind protruding tree roots in the playground, spread mulch to make an even playing surface, and erect a cubby house,” she said.

This calendar year also saw the implementation of the Nourishing Families project at North Katoomba Community Hub. The brainchild of Prue Adams, former Marketing and Member Liaison Officer at the Co-op, Nourishing Families brought together Jackie Spolc from the Hub and holistic nutrition coach Danielle O’Donoghue to develop a program of community cooking classes aimed at educating participants in how to prepare tasty nutritious food. The four-term program, partly funded by a grant from the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (supported by Scenic World) and donations from local councillors, has been a great success to date and application for funding for next year’s project is underway.

Can we fix it?
15th August, 2018

Can we fix it? Yes we can, with your help! Toolo, the not-for-profit Katoomba Tool Library, is calling for volunteer repairers for the new Katoomba Repair Café.

Are you a Mr or Ms Fixit? Do you have mending skills you’d like to share with the community? Then we need you at Katoomba’s Repair Café.

Toolo  and the Blue Mountains Food Co-op are launching a Repair Café at Junction 142 in Katoomba on 15th September. Repair Cafés are non-monetary shopfronts for an international sustainability movement that is all about repairing damaged or broken household items that would otherwise end up in landfill. Repair Cafés offer communities the chance to learn how to mend clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, toys, computer equipment and more by providing tools, materials and volunteers with repair skills in all kinds of fields.

Just rewards

As incentive, volunteer repairers will receive a free years membership with the Co-op (valued at $35) for their first Repair Café and volunteer points for time spent at the Repair Café on subsequent dates. If volunteers are already members of the Co-op they will receive volunteer points.

To register your interest contact Toolo on toolo.blue@gmail.com

POSITION VACANT – Coordinator role

The Repair Café Mender Coordinator is a volunteer position whose main responsibility is to liaise directly with the volunteer menders from the community, provide them with rostered shifts, provide an orientation and safety induction, and collect and file volunteer paperwork. The Repair Café Mender Coordinator should be familiar with basic computer skills, such as Google Drive, Microsoft Word and Excel spreadsheets. This volunteer position is for approximately 8 hours per month and entitles the successful candidate to free membership of the Blue Mountains Food Co-op, valued at $35 (or volunteer points if already a member) and full membership to the Blue Mountains Tool Library valued at $99. To apply contact Toolo on toolo.blue@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Grow heirloom fruit & veg
15th August, 2018

ABC Organic Gardener Essential Guide: Heirlooms

The latest edition in the ABC Organic Gardener’s Essential Guide series celebrates the incredible world of heirlooms. From 900-year-old ‘Purple Dragon’ carrots, to apples and oranges that arrived with the First Fleet, Heirlooms shows you how to grow your own and recommends the best cultivars for your patch.

Featuring content previously published in the popular magazine plus new articles by trusted horticultural writers including Penny Woodward and Justin Russell, the ‘mook’ (a cross between a book and a magazine) includes advice and tips for growing old-fashioned fruit, veg and flowers, seed-saving, raising heritage chook and pig breeds, and even the joy of scything. Heirlooms would make a welcome addition to your gardening reference library or a great gift for a green thumb.

We have two copies to giveaway. Simply email your contact details to  hello@bmfoodcoop.org.au with Heirlooms in the subject line, and a brief description or photo of any heirloom fruit or veg you’ve grown to be eligible to win.

ABC Organic Gardener Essential Guide: Heirlooms is on sale in newsagents and from ABC Centres and abc.net.au/shop and retails for $10.99.

 

Natural healing
15th August, 2018

Herbs for mums ‘n bubs

Get to grips with gripe and beat the baby blues with soothing natural remedies from our in-store practitioner, Chris Ireland.

The Co-op stocks a wide range of beautiful organic herbs that can be used safely through pregnancy and after birth. This article will detail some recipes for regulating breast milk flow, keeping mum’s spirits up in the days after birth, and helping manage digestive discomfort in the new bub.

Breast milk tea

Classically nutritive herbs, fennel and fenugreek seeds can be combined to help increase milk flow in the new mum. Rosemary Gladstar, a doyenne of modern herbalism, internationally renowned for her technical knowledge and stewardship in the global herbalist community, suggests the following breast milk tea:

4 parts fennel seed

2 parts nettle

2 parts raspberry leaf

½ part fenugreek seed

Use 4-6 tablespoons of herbs to a litre of water. Bruise the seeds lightly and add them and the herbs to cold water. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over low heat, with the pot covered. Remove from the heat and infuse for 20 minutes. Strain. Drink 3-4 cups daily.

Beat the baby blues

For lifting the spirits when feeling a bit overwhelmed in the days after birth, this lovely Joy tea is another Rosemary Gladstar classic:

2 parts chamomile

3 parts lemon balm

2 parts hibiscus flowers

2 parts rose petals

1/8 part lavender flowers

1/8 part cardamom pods, chopped

Use 4-6 tablespoons of herbs per litre of water. Add herbs to a pot and pour boiling water over them. Infuse for 5-10 minutes, covered. Strain out herbs. Drink immediately or serve chilled in summer.

DIY gripe water

Get to grips with gripe using this simple DIY recipe:

1 Tbsp fennel seeds

½ inch piece fresh ginger grated

1 tsp chamomile

125ml (½ cup) filtered water

Lightly bruise fennel seeds. Pour boiling water over herbs, cover pot and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain out herbs, ginger and seeds carefully with a coffee filter.

Kept covered in a closed and sterilised jar in the fridge this mix will last for 2-3 days. For infants small drop doses may be used, and for older babies up to a teaspoon of the mix may be diluted and given in a bottle of water. For best results, use after feeding and before bed.

NB: If problems persist consult a medical practitioner.

 

August in store
9th August, 2018

Winter warmers

Blood oranges, ruby grapefruit, local lemons, tangelos, limes, mandarins and oranges are in store now so make the most of this colourful vitamin-packed bounty.

Broccoli in all its shapes and forms, including purple sprouting, is also plentiful as are other brassicas including cabbage, cauliflower, kale and their cousin the much maligned Brussels sprout.

 

Off the shelf

Glüh-Brew is an organic spiced syrup to make mulled wine. Mix it with the red wine of your choice, then warm it up to make mulled wine. Glüh-Brew contains only certified organic ingredients and filtered water. One 330ml bottle makes up a total of 2.25 litres or three bottles of wine. You can make up as much or as little as you want at any time. Add 30ml to a large mug, or 100ml to one 750ml bottle of wine, then heat on the stove top or in the microwave, but be sure not to boil. Alternatively you can add Glüh-Brew to gin or vodka on ice, or add a splash to a glass of bubbly. If you don’t feel like drinking, then try Glüh-Brew drizzled on ice cream, yoghurt, pancakes, waffles, poached fruit, or add a dash to your tea. Glüh-Brew is proudly made in the Blue Mountains.

Star Dust powder mixes from Mindful Foods for lattes and smoothies include Longevity, Detox, Energise, Immunity and Anti-Inflammatory blends.

Our well-stocked tea range includes new additions such as Nature’s Cuppa Organic Chai Spice and Planet Organic Ginger, Echinacea and Spearmint tea bags.

These lip-smacking fig and mulberry jams from Earthcare Farm are a new addition to the Co-op’s shelves.

Currently out of stock

  • Sizzler Corn Chips (bulk) Product issues ETA late August
  • Raisins and Currants. Poor crop this year.
  • Unhulled Sesame Seeds. Not ordering from Murray River Organics (our only supplier) due to stock-outs and high minimum freight free order.
  • Tamarind and Creamed Coconut Blocks. Looking for new supplier. Previous supplier no longer trading.
Dog day afternoon
9th August, 2018

Gone to the dogs

We eat well, so why shouldn’t our dogs? Bring your four-legged friend to the Co-op on Thursday 30th August between 1 – 3.30pm for an afternoon of doggy diet discussion complete with canine canapés from Miso’s Treats and The Dog Baker.

Miso’s Treats

Based in Katoomba, Miso’s Treats are all natural, dehydrated dog treats that are low in fat with no added salt, sugar or preservatives. Only the best quality ingredients are used, with a preference for Australian, free-range and organic products whenever possible. Miso’s Treats contain at least 45% vegetables so they’re very healthy and many have no grains or dairy and so are suitable for dogs with allergy issues.

Miso’s Treats also offers dehydrated single ingredient treats like Grass Fed Beef Strips and Free Range Chicken Jerky, and dehydrated fruit and vegetables that dogs love such as Sweet Potato, Carrots, Apples and Pears.

“Miso” (above) and “Rosie” (top) photos by Paul Watkins.

facebook.com/Miso’sTreats

The Dog Baker

Sue Barclay, chief baker at The Dog Baker – a boutique Blue Mountains business – admits that prior to starting The Dog Baker she paid little attention to the ingredients in popular commercial dog treats. But when she finally did, it proved a scary read. “The ingredients included excessive amounts of salt, additive numbers (a very long list), sugar and generic references to unspecified meat products,” says Sue.  “No wonder my dogs were always gasping for a drink after feeding them treats. It seemed we had been inadvertently overdosing them on salt and other unknown additives.”

Sue realised the only way to ensure her dogs ate healthy treats was to make them herself. And so, after numerous experimental batches and lots of taste testing by her dogs, neighbourhood and friends’ dogs, and even a hungry teenage son, The Dog Baker was born. Using natural human-grade ingredients The Dog Baker treat range includes Apple Cheese Buckwheat biscuits, Banana Peanut Butter Carob bones and Sardine, Mint & Parsley paws.

dogbaker.com.au

The scoop on poop

If aliens chose to observe human behaviour through the lens of an off-leash dog park they would probably assume that dogs were the superior race. They’ve trained us well, our furry, four-legged friends, as we dutifully follow them around picking up after them. Aliens might also wonder why we are using environmentally damaging plastic bags to scoop the poop when there are much better eco-friendly alternatives.

The dog bags provided by Blue Mountains City Council in dispensers at off leash dog parks are degradable, meaning they break down into tiny little pieces of plastic over many, many years but remain in the eco-system as a pollutant and a danger to wildlife. The Co-op stocks Biobags, biodegradable dog poop bags made from a resin derived from plants, vegetable oils and compostable polymers that are completely compostable:  https://biobagworld.com.au/product/50-biodegradable-dog-poop-bags/

And because there is still much consumer confusion regarding the meaning of biodegradable, compostable, and bioplastic, here’s a nifty explanation from Choice magazine:

https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/packaging-labelling-and-advertising/packaging/articles/biodegradable-plastic

Meet the Maker – Nina’s Bees
9th August, 2018

Queen bee

Nina Tverskikh of Nina’s Bees shares the buzz on being an apiarist in this Q&A with the Co-op.

What got you into beekeeping?

Nina: A few years back my life took an unexpected turn after listening to an intriguing podcast that revealed the secret life of bees. On that same day, I made the decision to give these clever buzzing creatures a sanctuary in my own backyard, and my apiary has been growing ever since. To date, my little helpers and I have rescued countless wild swarms and given them a gift in the form of a second chance in the Blue Mountains.

How did you learn to use honey and beeswax?

Nina: My grandmother (babushka) grew up in an orthodox family of Old Believers, living in the wilderness of the taiga (boreal forest) in far eastern Russia. All of her family had to rely on natural medicine in their everyday lives. All through her life babushka Sasha would collect and use herbs, make tinctures and salves to treat literally every ailment. I learnt my basics from her.

What products do you make?

Nina: I make all-natural, botanical balms and soaps made with bee products from my apiary. I also make beeswax food wraps. All products are hand made with organic and/or cold-pressed oils, essential oils and are packaged in recyclable containers.

What is the best part about being an apiarist?

Learning new things about bees every time I open a hive. Working with bees and observing their environment made me a better gardener and passionate advocate for chemical-free living.

Nina will be at the Co-op Thursday 16th August from 10.30 – 12.30 for a Meet the Maker session.

July in store
12th July, 2018

Purple haze

This month sees an influx of rare and unusual fruits and vegetables with an emphasis on purple!

Cauliflowers

Mark Twain described cauliflowers as “cabbages with college educations”. These purple ones, in store now for a limited time, are not only smart but also packed with anthocyanin – a flavonoid found in blueberries and grapes – thought to have anti-inflammatory health benefits.

Purple and yellow carrots

Carrots are packed with minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium, and are a good source of vitamin C, niacin and folate. The absorption of the protective beta carotene is increased by slightly cooking or finely pulverising.

Dragon fruit

Most of us associate dragon fruit with tropical salads we’ve eaten on holiday in south east Asia, but did you know that the dragon fruit, or Pitaya, comes from a cactus native to the Americas?

In the big Little Shop

Check out our fantastic range of bamboo, stainless steel and glass drinking straws (and cleaning brushes) because plastic straws suck!

Waste not
11th July, 2018

Australian households generate a massive amount of waste every year, most of it going to landfill. What can we do as a community to help reduce our environmental impact? We asked local business Integrated Dental Health and Blue Mountains City Council for answers.

Brushing up on dental waste

Dr Henriette Macri-Etienne of Integrated Dental Health in Katoomba is making it easier for us to reduce our dental waste. Her practice is a collection point for Terracycle, a company that recycles old toothbrushes and other dental plastics and uses them to make things like playground equipment and park benches.

“Any dental waste like old toothbrushes, floss containers, toothpaste tubes – any waste you use in your mouth – can go in the dental waste collection bin at Integrated Dental Health,” says Henriette.

The practice is also investigating the most sustainable bamboo toothbrushes to provide free of charge with every check-up.

For more information, visit or call Integrated Dental Health 61 Parke Street Katoomba,  4708 7007 integrateddentalhealth.com.au

We’ve all bin there

Q: In Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) 2014 Draft Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy the key aims were to reduce the rate of waste generation per capita, increase recycling rates and divert waste from landfill – how successful has Council been in achieving each of these goals?

BMCC: Very successful.

  1. Household waste diverted from landfill up from 18% (2000) to 53% in 2016
  2. Household waste to landfill per person per year decreased from 346kgs to 227kgs.
  3. Household waste recycled per person per year up from 76kgs to 254kgs.

Q: Has there been any update to that plan, and if so what will the new targets be?

BMCC: Yes. Waste Avoidance & Resource Recovery Strategic Plan 2017-2021 is the updated plan. It can be found at this link:

www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/residents/waste-and-recycling/waste-results-how-are-we-doing

Q: Where does our (BM residents) recycling go and what happens to it?

BMCC: JJ Richards collect and transport our kerbside recycling to Visy in Smithfield.  Visy is responsible for sorting the materials and sourcing markets for their recycling.  Visy use a lot of the material themselves in their plastic and paper/cardboard manufacturing businesses.

Q: Bathurst Council is utilising Australian Native Landscapes’ facility at Blayney to recycle all organic matter, including food waste, into compost – is this an option for BMCC and if not why?

BMCC: The introduction of the new waste service was made based on over two years of research and extensive community consultation prior to any decision being made. Households were asked to indicate their preference from three options. Option A included garden vegetation and food waste collection at a cost (the processing for food scraps is more expensive), option B was just for garden vegetation and option C was for no green bin. The results were as follows:

Option A – Green Bin (Food & Garden) 18%

Option B – Green Bin (Garden only) 46.4%

Option C – No Green bin 35.6%

Council was guided by this community response when the current waste service was selected and introduced.

Finally, unlike other areas closer to the city, many of our households have garden space suitable for composting. We offer a number of different initiatives to support households to compost at home; such as the compost revolution, composting workshops, our recent compost hub trial as well as offering compost bins and worm farms for sale via our website.

Q: What programs have BMCC initiated or supported in the last year to educate the community about waste avoidance and promote plastic-free living?

BMCC:

  • EPA – Community Recycling Centre (CRC) Katoomba Waste Management Facility – grant funded free disposal of problem household waste such as paints, gas bottles, motor oils, batteries, smoke detectors and fluorescent globes and tubes.
  • Waste 2 Art – Community art project encouraging waste avoidance and correct recycling. 2017 message was specifically targeted at avoidance and reuse of plastic bags. The project also specifically addressed recycling bin contamination with soft plastics.  2018 message focused on liquid paperboard containers.
  • Compost Revolution – An online educational tool for households to use anywhere, anytime. Householders complete an online tutorial and quiz. To help them get started on recycling food and garden waste at home a discounted compost bin or worm farm is available for purchase.
  • Compost Hub – A neighbourhood composting program connecting non-composting households with those that do not compost. Compost contributors deliver their household scraps to compost champions. Diverting food waste from the red garbage bin into a household compost bin.
  • Love Food Hate Waste workshops and market stalls – This plan focussed on providing tools to reduce food waste from meal planning, shopping to a list, food storage and using leftovers.
  •  OTHER ongoing promotion and communications:
  • Website – Update of waste and recycling pages
  • Weekly gazette ads
  • Waste App – used to update information, respond to feedback and provide recycling information.
  • Press Releases, rates newsletter – tools to promote and provide relevant waste avoidance information to the community.
  • Social media

 

Pop up cake stall
11th July, 2018

Local maker Cocoa Ruby will be bringing her beautiful vegan cakes to the Co-op Wednesday 18th July.

Featuring four of her favourite creations:

Raspberry, White Chocolate and Rose Cheesecake

Choc Mint and Matcha Mudslide

Chai Cheesecake

Black Forest Cake.

Come on down for a yummy treat and a chat to sweeten up winter!

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