The Producers

Help us produce produce and make a sustainable impact.

Keen to grow some produce? Want to meet others and create a model for living a sustainable life? The Producers plant, maintain and harvest veggies (or "produce" ...get it, now?) around campus. We also run workshops giving aimed at boosting your greenery-confidence and giving you foodie ideas. 

Volunteer!

If sustainability is your specialty and you have a green thumb, The Producers is the place for your passion to grow.

During the COVID-19 shutdown period, we are welcoming all volunteers to contribute ideas and digital content to share via the Arc Facebook, Instagram and YouTube platforms. If you are keen to contribute ideas and content please email Jeeves - j.verma@arc.unsw.edu.au

Volunteering with The Producers is also recognised on your Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement (AHEGS).

Meet Your 2020 Coordinator

Dom

“Living life with good hearty food and growing sustainable gardens.” 

Hello peeps!

I’m Dom - a third year food science major student. My main reason for joining the Producers was to discover more about gardening and self-sustainability. So, by now, I know how to compost and why my terrariums kept on dying. Let’s just say that I learned a lot on how terrarium maintenance can go horribly wrong. But hey, life’s not always straightforward.

University life can be pretty hectic at times. But you can have your own garden despite being busy - whether you’re living in a one bedroom apartment, with your parents or have lead-laced soil/concrete slabs at the back. Plants can be pretty hardy little buggers. Not to mention, home-cooked food can be great for your physical and mental health. With some creativity, I believe that gardening and cooking can be affordable and quick. 

If you’re interested in growing your own food, making your life more sustainable and learning ways to change things up a little, we’re always open to new volunteers - no matter your background or experience.

Find the Senior Volunteers and Coordinators!

Encouragement

The Producers new podcast

EncourageMINT is brought to you by UNSW campus gardeners The Producers, now coming to you through your headphones to answer your questions, take you through the basics and get you into the garden!

https://open.spotify.com/episode/5vfcHhZ0NQ1vAxSTvU5XyP

Recipe series - improve your cooking skillz

Breakfast in bed

Want to impress your loved ones by making them something exciting, innovative and delicious? Well, look no further! Below are the recipes to make a scrumptious breakfast. 

Tomato omelet 

Cheese 

Fresh diced tomatoes 

Chopped basil/parsley/coriander 

Eggs 

Oil 

 

  1. Beat the eggs until well-combined before adding some herbs and chopped tomatoes.

  2. Place the mixture in a pan with warm oil. 

  3. When the eggs have almost set, add the cheese before folding the omelet into half.  

  4. Sauté onions in olive oil on a low heat until golden brown and translucent and serve with the omelet.

 

Tomato-free marinara sauce 

Olive oil 

200 g of Beetroot 

Onions 

Water 

Garlic 

Salt 

150 g of Carrots 

Lemon juice 

Herbs (parsley, mint) 

1. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until golden brown and translucent. 

2. In separate pots, boil peeled beetroot and peeled carrots until soft and tender before grating.  

3.. Blitz the beetroot and carrot together with the cooked onions, garlic and herbs. 

4. Add lemon juice and salt for taste.  

You can use the leftover marinara sauce for lunch by adding it to some piping hot pasta. Yum!

Beet lava cake with poached sugar plums

Craving something sweet? Missing a fancy romantic dinner in a restaurant? Want something instagramable?

  • Poached sugar plums 

Sugar solution (50% water, 50% brown sugar - e.g. 1/4 cup of brown sugar, ¼ cup of water) 

Sugar plums 

Cloves 

Cinnamon powder 

  1. In a large pot, add the sugar plums with a few pieces of cloves, a tsp of cinnamon powder and enough of the sugar solution (50% water, 50% sugar) to cover them and place on high heat.  

  1. Boil the mixture until the water has reduced and thickened or the sugar plums have gained a golden-brown colour.  

 

  • Beetroot puree 

½ piece of beetroot 

2 tbsp brown sugar 

  1. In a large pot, boil beetroot until soft and tender before grating. 

  1. Add brown sugar and enough water to cover before boiling the mixture down. 

  1. Blitz the beetroot combined with any residual water.  

 

  • Beet lava cake 

½ cup Flour 

½ - 1 cup Beets 

150 g of butter 

Olive oil 

1 cup of Cocoa powder 

1 tsp of Vanilla extract 

Brown sugar 

  1. Combine flour, beetroot, cocoa powder, sugar and a tsp of vanilla extract. 

  1. Add the butter to the flour mixture and enough olive oil to make the ingredients moist and well-combined. You can substitute the butter and olive with coconut oil to make this dish vegan.  

  1. Place the batter in well-oiled tins and bake for 190oC for 30 minutes. The middle should be chocolately and gooey inside.  

 

Note: To make the lava cake more light and fluffy, add 1 or 2 eggs.  The dish can be changed into a Japanese-style cheesecake by whipping egg yolks and egg whites plus adding cream cheese. Add the egg yolks and cream cheese to the ingredients before gently folding in egg yolks. You can cook the cheesecake by steaming or baking the dessert.  

Let us know if you put any spins on this fun recipe! Tag your creations using #ArcUNSW on Instagram. 

Beet mini choc cake (nasturtium flowers as garnish)

  • 2-layer cake [exact same recipe as lava cake but cooked more] 

½ cup Flour 

½ cup Beets 

150 g of butter 

Olive oil 

2 cup of Cocoa powder 

1 tsp of Vanilla extract 

Brown sugar 

  1. Combine flour, beetroot, cocoa powder, sugar and a tsp of vanilla extract. 

  1. Add the butter to the flour mixture and enough olive oil to make the ingredients moist and well-combined. You can substitute the butter and olive with coconut oil to make this dish vegan.  

  1. Place the batter into two tins and bake for 190oC for 40 minutes. You can use a skewer to pierce the center of the cake and check if the cake is well-cooked. 

  1. Melt dark chocolate until silky. 

  1. Add some melted chocolate on top of the first cake to make a 1 cm layer between the two cakes before using the rest of the chocolate on the outside of the cake. 

  1. Use a spatula to evenly distribute and smooth down the chocolate on the outside of the cake. 

  1. Use nasturtium flowers as a garnish and honey to decorate the plate.  

 

Note: To make the cake more light and fluffy, add eggs.  

 

The dish can be changed into a Japanese-style cheesecake by whipping egg yolks and egg whites plus adding cream cheese. Add the egg yolks and cream cheese to the ingredients before gently folding in egg yolks. You can cook the cheesecake by steaming or baking the dessert.  

Check out our new blog

Plants to grow during the quarantine

Wanting to grow something green and pretty to look at? Maybe a buddy or more to keep you company? You've come to the right place!

Check out our new post for some inspo now. :)

Indoor Gardening

To learn some tips about indoor gardening, click here!

Are plants alive?

In this week's blog post, Luciana digs deep into the heart of this great philosophical question. Check it out now!

Green roofs in the US

Keen to get an insight into green roofs overseas? Have a look at this cool insight from the US now!

Edible succulents

We often think of succulents as decoration but some of them are actually edible! Neat, huh? Check out our latest blog post here

Mother's Day edition

Unable to buy a Mother's day card this year? Need something quick, easy and cheap? Check out our fun DIY suggestions to jazz up your Mother's Day card. 

Our penpal initiative for our volunteers

Penpals

Cabin fever got you rooted down? Looking to get your volunteering hours up but can’t leaf the house? Eager to create a blossoming friendship? The Producers have packaged all these into one with the Garden PenPal program, a system where you’re matched up with someone new (if they’re a Producer, they’re probably super cool, too) and talk about what you’re growing at home! Each pair can choose to be as casual or as formal as they’d like, choosing to talk about their plants or have a gardening competition and race to find out who is the Supreme Gardener.

It's spiralling up from here

The formerly known herb spiral is now more of a rainforesty-like spiral. 

The plant spiral gets at the "philosophy" of what we try do at the Producers - combine gardening with design.

By spiraling up (or down - depending on perspective) the plant spiral creates the optimum growing conditions (micro-climates) for each plant to thrive. Our initial plans were to have high, dry and sunny at the top for rosemary and thyme to moist, sheltered and shady at the bottom for mint and lemon balm.

Initially located outside Arc Clubs space in 2018, it's showing its green leafs and yellow petals at Colombo House ground floor in 2020. 

Drawing a dream

May, a former SV, is currently doing design research on how to integrate agriculture into unused urban spaces and how it encourages social engagement for her industrial design honours project. Previously, she was researching sustainable food growing in the urban areas of NSW. A couple weeks ago, she had been researching about community gardens, hydroponics and chickens and how to grow them within an urban setting. 

Thought bubble.png

Her new research method is interviewing people, including Dom [current Coordinator] and Jonathan Lee [former Coordinator], and asking them to do a rough sketch of  their dream garden in 8 minutes. Time to utilize their bra(i)n energy…

Rough sketch.png

Note: The photo was taken on the 16th March 2020. Stay safe, everyone!


Chili challenge

Week 4 social

Finally got the time to write this up aha!

Five of our vollies tested their taste-buds and spicy-tolerance levels in our first ever chilli challenge. They faced six dishes dishes including chilli milkshake, pesto and the boss level sambal. We had an epic-battle for third place. 

Our first-place prize was a Marvel rubix cube, second-place was a fidget spinner and third was a ladybug-themed nail clipper. We hoped all of our attendees and challengers enjoyed the event along with our Terrarium-making and display of food, including pasta.  

And once again, thanks for UNSW Groundskeepers for donating their chillies.

Gardening = research!

Sherrie, an honours student under Dr W. Alexander Donald, is currently doing research into a new chemical analysis method for finding active compounds in natural extracts. She aims to use mass spectrometry analysis to find chemicals from nature that act as ligands and bind to important proteins - such as the carbonic anhydrase protein, which is implicated in medical conditions such as osteoperosis, renal tubular acidosis (accumulation of acid in the body due to kidney failure) and cerebral calcification (build-up of calcium in the brain). On the 28th February, The Producers donated a bunch of curly and flat leaf parsley to Sherrie for her research. We wish her the best with her experiments!

Terrarium making fun!

Thanks for everyone who came to the Terrarium competition on the 19th February. We had lots of fun and it was a very hard decision for our judge to choose the winner.

All participants were given tickets for the start of session party at Roundhouse for the next day and an early screening for Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears for the next Tuesday. Our lucky winner utilized a wonderful design that creatively used a candle.

A triple-decker solution?

An Industrial Design honours student, Claudia Jaqin, is currently in the early stages of her research into sustainability and food waste. She aims to improve current compost and worm farm designs. Her interviews seek to pinpoint the various difficulties associated with composting and worm farms. 

On the 11th March 2020, she interviewed the Producers Coordinator which allowed her to also see how working bees were done and our compost bin at Gate 7. Subsequently, she got in touch with Samantha C (a Senior Volunteer) who had conducted a similar Design and Technology project in Year 12. We wish the very best and hope that she can merge planting, composting and a worm farm into a sleek triple-decker design. 

Art Installation constructions begins

Currently, we've started our living Art Installation. This Art Installation is a collaboration between the four sustainability programs - The Producers, Stationery Reuse, Bikology and eReuse. So far, we've started propagating our plants. We have yet to obtain bicycle wheels and CDs for our structure. Our Art Installation has been postponed to later in the year so finger's crossed!

Worms alive!

Here's a picture from our volunteer wormfarm - thankfully we haven't had too many escapees in this wet weather - but it's early days yet. 

If you're interested in learning how to make your own - keep an eye out for workshops we're planning to run next sem or check out some of the resources below!

Here's a great guide to wormfarming from Kimbriki Eco House and Garden.

Or check out Compost Revolution, a great organisation partnered with most of your local councils which provides really great discounts - up to 80% off!


Early? More like very late seedlings

Something you can do too!

So here's some (slightly late) parsley seedlings!

We had originally sown them ahead of our kokedama activation, but they've decided they'd much rather wait until now to start germinating - go figure! They might even be good to use in our next kokedama workshop!

But if you're keen to try grow a little pot of your own favorite herb or veg, swing by our stall at Greenfest - you find out more (and about all the other cool stuff going on) here https://www.facebook.com/events/370970833800624/

Pot Marigolds

Medicine and aesthetics!

A pot marigold! As with other marigolds, the flowers are edible, but with some calendula varieties the petals are actually (amongst other things) antiseptic and antiviral - and can be made into a natural balm for treating a variety of conditions! Neat stuff!

Cape Gooseberries!

Fruits of our labour

So, a while back we said something about cape gooseberries?

Well, here's one in the flesh!

They have an interesting taste - we think it's either a sweet cherry tomato, or a kiwi fruit like taste. 

Dom - I suspect that they can even be used in jams, savoury and sweet dishes. This theory will be tested sometime in Spring (hopefully) when the Cape Gooseberries should be fruiting.

Herb Kokedama

Japanese moss balls

So as part of Stress Less week we helped a whole bunch of students make their own herb kokedama - little balls of soil wrapped traditionally in moss - but in our case coconut fibre (for a slightly more "sustainable" option).

We think they look pretty good - and you get to harvest a bunch of parsley along with it!

Precision planting

Watching grass grow

I think when gardening, it's always cool to see the seeds you plant emerge from the ground and grow into plants and eventually food.

Here's some kinda soothingly precise peas that one of volunteers has planted, just emerging.

A handy map

Because even we get confused what's what

So if you've ever popped by our Gate 7 gardens, or been up to the Colombo rooftop, you might have seen a couple blackboards up - well they've now got maps!

We've done our best to map out/mini-illustrate what's going on in the garden (mainly for the permanent perennials just because they're slower to change) - so check it out next time you're around!

The name is Berries. (Cape) Goose-Berries.

Of the Cape Gooseberry sort

Cape Gooseberries!

While winter sees a lot of other veg and herbs slowing down - at the moment, we're getting a lot of berries instead!

Here's our cape gooseberry bush - which has while somewhat unnoticed, kinds taken over a corner of the rooftop garden!

Nasturtiums

Another all round edible

What's better than a low maintenance flower - one that has even more edible parts!

Here's one of our nasturtiums really soaking up all the recent rains up on the rooftop.

Nasturtiums are great because you can eat the leaves (they have a spicy, punchy flavour), flowers and even turn the seeds into "poor man's capers" - plus they self seed pretty regularly, so you don;t even have to plant them again!

Peas, Peas, Peas

3 Crops for the price of one!

So peas!

They come in all sorts of colours and even some leafless varieties!

But the great thing about them is that you not only get nice fresh peas, but first edible shoots, then edible flowers!

The Seed Bank

Everything you need to get started growing tomorrow

The Producers Seedback is here to help you live healthier, be more sustainable and get growing!

For a limited time, we’ll lend you our seeds, coco-pellets and experience to grow your own. First 100 to stop by will also receive a bonus seaweed solution packet to give their plants a kickstart!

No idea how to grow stuff – no problem either! We have a series of workshops to help you get a successful harvest. Swing by The Producers seedbank within the sustainability hub to have a chat about your seed situation today!

If you're at the stall already - here's the link to the required form: https://forms.gle/TWFtsmpXjdYc...

Hydroponics!

(kind of)

We've finally got our "hydroponics" rig set up and it's going great!

Hydroponics is where you grow your plants in a nutrient rich water solution - which is more water efficient, help plants grow quicker and enables us to drain the beds - so we can trolley this bed around!

The next step is to try hookup a wormfarm into the "brain" - so the worm liquid drains into the water and feeds the plants.

Potato flowers?

The more you know...

So - potato plants actually flower - and they're actually related to tomato plants too - you can tell by how similar the flowers are.

In fact potato plants can also produce fruit - which looks just like a green tomato! Unfortunately a poisonous one.

Ladybug larvae

Kinda freaky looking

Ever seen a ladybug larvae?

Well - let's just say they don't look like their parents...

But they're great in the garden - will happily munch through those pesky aphids

Legumes and rhizobic bacteria - natural and 100% free fertilizer

You see those tiny white/yellowish blobs? They're filled with nitrogen!

If you've ever been unfortunate enough to get caught in a conversation with me about legumes - you'll know that they're the only plants able to take atmospheric nitrogen and put that into the ground - nitrogen, of course, being one of the 3 big plant nutrients. 

This plant here? It's a pigeon pea - fantastic plant and easy to grow, like a lot of other legumes, maybe in part because they improve the soil and feed themselves!

Other plants? Well ... that's why people often use fertilizers - or if you plant a few beans, peas - or any of the other leguminous species out there, you can do it for free*

*as long as the appropriate bacteria are present, and willing to work for you (each plant has their own special relationships with bacteria)

Straw Bale Gardens

Quick and easy way to get started

So... what is it?

Literally a garden in a straw bale... you get a straw bale, cut a small depression, fill it with compost and pop in your seedling, and you have a garden!

Over time with watering and the occasional feed, the straw will break down, and provide some really rich soil for the growing seedling.

Only note is that the whole thing can get a little messy - so keep that in mind if you're thinking of trying your own! 

Flowers! (Which are also edible)

Spring has arrived! It's a great time now to get planting - you can plant just about anything round about now - a few late winter crops or early summer crops - the choice is yours!

With all that new sunshine and nice warm days - you start to get plants going to flower - like this rocket (white flower) and this brassica (yellow flowers to right) go to flower, seed and then die off. 

That's a little sad - because the leaves tend to become a lot more bitter - but the great news is you now have the flowers! Each have a unique taste, and are a colourful addition to salads, pastas or anywhere you might otherwise use their parent vegetables.

Of course, the benefits go on from there - bees tend to love the flowers, and you're setting up seed to be saved - growing locally adapted and optimised varieties to your garden.

GIY Workshop 4: You can grow anywhere

Or how to grow stuff without a backyard or balcony

So you know what to grow, how to prep the soil for great results and stop bugs from eating everything before you do - one problem - you don't have a backyard or balcony to grow anything on.

No problem! In this workshop, we'll be running through sprouts, microgreens and container gardens - all different ways of growing things without large garden beds - some don't even need (very much) sunlight! 

GIY Workshop 3: Trust the system - find nature's balance

AKA How to stop pests from eating all your produce

So you know what plants you want to grow, what plants are going to do well where you’re planning to grow, and you’ve got your composting bug sorted with kickass soil.

But what do you do when your resident bugs eat all you’ve grown before you get to it?

This workshop, we’re talking “integrated pest management” – fancy speak for getting plants and natural predators to control all your pest problems for you – so IDing pest and predators, using controls, habitat design and problem prevention.

GIY Workshop 2: Start with the foundations - Good soil is life

Ever hear you are what you eat? 

Well growing plants are the same way - good soil is going to make growing anything way easier. And so our second workshop focuses on just that - figuring out what great soil is, and how to get it for your garden - wherever that is.

We'll talk worms (red wriggler vs. earth), compost, store ready fertilizers, soil improving plants (legumes anyone?) and how you can start a garden and amazing soil from scratch - no soil required!

GIY Workshop 1: Growing isn't actually that hard - if in doubt garden!

AKA: How to do lazy gardening

So you've heard the world is going crazy - that food security (and sovereignty) is an evermore present issue.

Or maybe you just want some great fresh produce on your windowsill, in your backyard - or maybe you're just a little curious how that food on your plate got produced.

Well let's start with the basics - what plants need to grow, and how we can make our life easier by gardening with that in mind.

We'll be talking about how to raise your own seeds and save some serious cash, what seeds and plants to choose (really consider perennials) and how you can learn to see the world like your plants do - and begin to grow some really easy and fast produce for you to start eating (radishes!)

Sharewaste

Can't have a compost or worm farm at home? Keen to help out your local gardeners and reduce your own food waste at the same time?

Sharewaste might be exactly the thing you're looking for! You can find people living nearby who are looking for food scrap donations to turn into black gold. If you're on campus - The Producers would love to have your food scraps! You can find our compost bin at the entrance to Gate 7 - if you're not sure where it is, shoot us an email and we'll give you a bit of a tour!

Check it out - there might be a Sharewaste donor right next door

Understory Forest Gardening

We've mentioned permaculture before as the combination of organic gardening and design, as well as part of our guiding philosophy here at The Producers. 

One of its other aspects is a focus on learning from and working with nature, rather than fighting or conquering it. One of the ways permaculturists practise this is with forest gardening, where useful plants are selected to mimic a natural ecosystem, which is constantly evolving and creating little niches for different plants and animals/insects to thrive.

Here you can see the beginning of our own attempt at a forest garden (focused on understory plants because of the shade that our garden gets). You can see 

- native violets and oats as a living mulch/ground cover to keep soil moist

- tree/walking onions, sea celery and climbing peas to use up more vertical space

- comfrey as a accumulator/fertilizer plant to improve the soil and,

- chard, (and not in picture) gingers and arrowroot to provide windbreaks, shade and fill the tallest part of the understory.

Vertical Potatoes?

Vertical potatoes.

While we're talking about vertical planting - how about potatoes? 

Typically you need very rich, deep soil to get a good harvest of potatoes - but by going up instead of down, you can produce your own spuds, even on a balcony.

You start with a small/shallow container which you can build up, and plant your special "seed" potatoes (checked to be free from disease, grow inhibitors, soil affecting pesticides). As the growing tips of the potato emerge, you keep burying the majority of the stem with more good quality soil.

And hopefully by the growing season's end, you will have an entire tower's worth of potatoes. Fingers crossed!

Edibles indoors!

Wednesday Week 11 we ran a kitchen gardening workshop in collaboration with the fantastic Enviro Collective as part of their Students and Sustainability workshop day.

We covered sprouts, microgreens, container gardens and worm farming - all of which can be done right in your kitchen - some of which you don't even need sunshine for!

If you're interested in starting your own - http://greenharvest.com.au/Dow... is a great resource for getting started.

Keep your eyes peeled for other workshops you might be interested in through the Arc Facebook page - or if you're interested in getting more involved, and maybe even running workshops with us - keep your eyes open for semester 2 recruitment - opening soon!

Terrariums! (2018)

Week 8 saw us run our succulent terrarium workshop again, in collaboration with Arc How To - this year run by Artsweek.

Whilst these succulents aren't edible - these terrarium are a decent bit of fun to make, as well as bring a little gardening inside.

Plus they're a great way to practice observing and playing around with our environment. Try a  new spot, or watering regime, seeing what happens and then adjusting from there - something we try do with our projects here at the Producers.

Don't worry if you missed out though - the Producers will likely be back next sem with another terrarium workshop!

The Herb Spiral

I've been meaning to do a write-up of this for a while - but this is the herb spiral - the weirdly shaped planter you can see outside the Arc Clubs space.

The herb spiral gets at the "philosophy" of what we try do at the Producers - combine gardening with design.

By spiraling up (or down - depending on perspective) the herb spiral creates the optimum growing conditions (micro-climates) for each plant to thrive. From high, dry and sunny at the top for rosemary and thyme to moist, sheltered and shady at the bottom for mint and lemon balm.

If you're interested, stop us anytime we're out in the garden (or up at Gate 7) for a chat!


Here's a preview of some pre O-week Producers stuff!

Check it here!

If you like this program you might also like...