The Real Dirt on CERES

CERES has provided inspiration, information, fresh healthy groceries and great coffee to the Melbourne community for more than 2 decades now. The organisation always been a great support to the MCCG, and we’d like to show our support for it by getting this response out and inviting you to pass it on – either by email, verbally or however you please. It’s important that we don’t let a poor piece of journalism critically damage this important Moreland institution.

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The Real Dirt on CERES

What’s the worst thing that can happen to an environment park that educates kids and grows food? A contamination scare that breaks in the city’s most trusted paper.  

Appearing on page three of The Sunday Age, March 5th edition, just the week before CERES Organic Farm was given the all clear by Moreland Council and the EPA, a feature article reported, “produce grown at CERES banned from sale”  because of lead contamination.  The timing of Steve Holland’s article could not have been worse or more mischievous.

If The Sunday Age had bothered to check their story, the real but far less newsworthy story would have revealed that Moreland Council and EPA testing had found five privately leased community garden plots with lead levels slightly over ANZFSC  limits and that produce from CERES Organic Farm had never been contaminated or banned from sale. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story they say. 

When I read the article, including a quote from CERES chairperson, Robert Larocca, which seemed to back up the story, my first thoughts were, “That’s not right and why would Robert confirm it?” 

And then I found out how some journalists work and it all became clear. At the time of the interview in January the final Moreland Council test results hadn’t come out but Steve Holland obtained a leaked version of the preliminary results. The document had the test results but not the locations of the tests. Wrongly assuming the results referred to the CERES Organic Farm instead of the community garden plots, Holland used the report to ask Robert Larocca what he would say to people who could have eaten contaminated CERES produce? Larocca’s reply was, “It is unfortunate it has happened and we are sorry for that. A very small number of people will have purchased that [contaminated food], including myself.” It was an honest answer to a hypothetical question but Holland used the quote make it seem like CERES had actually been selling contaminated produce without ever checking his story was correct. 

Two months passed before the article was finally published. It would have only taken a simple phone call to discover that Council and EPA test results had cleared produce sold at CERES and isolated the problem to five 4x4m community garden plots not accessible to the general public.  But no phone call was made, the story went to print and all hell broke loose. 

I’ve been feeling sick about this for the last fortnight. I used to trust The Age. I read it every day, but now I feel like CERES’ good name has been destroyed by sloppy journalism and a paper eager for a controversial story.  Two weeks later and it’s all old news; Moreland Council and the EPA  came out with their test results clearing CERES Organic Farm, new articles have been written with the facts but fear is a powerful motivator and people are turning away from CERES.  The damage has been done.

The outcome has been immediate for CERES; Fair Food orders are down, the Market is quiet. We are reducing what we buy from the 50 plus Victorian farmers and processors who depend on us for their income. Our packers and drivers are losing shifts and CERES will need to take money away from environmental education programs to cover the financial losses of Fair Food and Market. So much damage caused by a few careless words.

We can’t beat this alone.  CERES has always lived and died on the support of our community, so we’re asking you to tell your friends the real story, to share it through your networks.  We’re asking you to stand by our farmers and our packers & drivers by placing your Fair Food orders and by shopping at CERES Market.  We’re asking you to stand up for CERES.

Chris Ennis
CERES Fair Food and Organic Farm


Busy Bee – Sat April 30!











This month, we’ve got something for everyone!

•    Planting out of the common areas with winter vegies and herbs

•    Cleaning up following construction of the fence and pergola

•    Re mulching paths in common area •    Shed clean out

•    Mini composting workshop

Mornings seem to be working well – so we’lll kick off at 9.30am and wrap it up around 12.30pm, with briefing and the mini-workshop at 10am.

See you then,


Harvest Hoedown!

Come one, come all to celebrate our first season’s harvest with a Harvest Hoedown at the Merri Corner Community Garden!

Winter kitchen garden workshop, BBQ (vego and carnivore), live music, garden tours and Harvest Hoedown games for the young and young-at-heart.

Sunday 27 March from 11am til 4pm @ The MCCG – 194 Donald Street, Brunswick East

The Event

11am – Kitchen Garden Workshop for Winter

12.30pm – Official Hoedown Hoopla Ceremony

1.00pm – Live music and games, garden tours

1.30pm – BBQ Lunch

2.30pm – 4.00 pm – More games!

Download a PDF of the flyer here

BUSY BEE Sat Feb 26th!

Hi Gardening Folks,

As promised we will be holding a busy bee down at the garden this weekend, on Saturday 26th Feb from 9am til 1pm. Come for half an hour or come for the full stint. We will be having a briefing at 9.30am to set out the plan for the morning.

Jobs this time round include;

  • Preparing the site for the fence works
  • Weeding the sensory garden area
  • Fruit tree borders
  • Compost set up
  • General site cleanup

Something for everyone. See you down there – weather looks mintox.

Busy Bee – Sunday 30th Jan!

Hi all and a happy 2011!

Having drank and eaten too much over the silly season (some from our bountiful plots) we are ready to get down and dirty again at the MCCG and progress the good work done in 2010. On Sunday the 30th Jan, we are having our first busy bee for the year and you’re all cordially invited. In case you’ve forgotten in all the excitement – the attached plan is what we are working towards!

The busy bee will include;

  • General clean up of the site
  • Weeding the sensory garden area
  • Construction of the sensory garden area
  • Shed clean out and reorganisation
  • Preparation of the paving area
  • Some good old fashioned hole digging
  • Path mulching

In other news we are going to be having a Harvest Hoe-down on Sunday 6th March, where MCCG members and friends can celebrate the business end of the MCCG’s first summer vegie season in style. Pop it in your diaries folks – its gonna be a doosy! More details to come over the coming week – if you’d like to help organise please get in touch with Rich Ploeg our Hoe-down Director – roknrichploeg – at – gmail – dot – com

That’s all from us at the mo – looking forward to seeing those of you who can make it next Sunday!

Plot Allocation Day – A huge success!

A beautiful sunny day, and a beautiful way to introduce everyone to their plots. Full write-up soon!

The soil. We have it!

Check this out. Two massive articulated trucks maneuvering and dumping 25 tonnes of soil this arvo…