Hemi cooking up a storm, CERES Merri Cafe
Home for Harvest

On Saturday morning CERES Harvest Day organiser Melissa Lawson looks up at the cloudless sky out her window and smiles.

The festival she has been organising for months is going to have the best weather she could have hoped for.

The only catch is she will be isolating at home with a case of COVID.

A few hours later at CERES Brunswick East her party is going off.

Out front of the Van Ray Centre there’s not a single free space in the bike racks – bikes are in bushes, against trees and piled up on the ground.

Throngs of kids and their parents in Honey Lane Farm are making scarecrows from the clothes Melissa and her daughter, Luca, have been collecting for weeks from op-shops.

Farmers Meg, Rachel and Kelly are run off their feet demonstrating seed saving, propagation and veggie gardening.

Up in the Indonesian village, teacher Subik Baso and his team feed people satay sticks, Macassan rice and freshly made sambals.

Eager faces listen to auntie Kathy tell the Gunaikurnai story of Tiddalik – the greedy frog who drank up all the water and the animals who conspired to make him laugh and give it up again.

With great gusto Councillor Mark Riley tears off the grapevine ribbon helping CEO Cinnamon officially open the new community gardens.

And up at the Fair Food stand, face-painted kids industriously decorate boxes to be delivered this week to customers all across Melbourne.

In the still of early evening on the hill outside the Merri Café Wurundjeri Elder, Uncle Bill Nicholson, on his fourth welcome that day, welcomes us to country with story and smoke.

And though he’s tired, he tirelessly shares Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung words and wisdom ​​​​​​, generously encouraging us to keep on this path back to caring for each other and Country.

At the Harvest feast Rachel Rubenstein and Hemi Rakei Reidy are a farmer/chef double act explaining to eaters that they’d been conspiring this dinner on farm and in kitchen for a year now.

The bread has been baked in the CERES Bakery. The communally pressed olive oil, a medallist at the Adelaide Show, is from the Olive to Oil Project.

You can taste Rachel and Hemi’s love and creativity in the vegetable cerviche which has you somehow believing a skilfully sliced dutch carrot might actually be a sliver of fish.

Harvest is CERES’ Thanksgiving – we give thanks to the good Earth, the farmers, the bakers, the makers and the cooks but above all we do it by coming together to celebrate!

And even though she may have missed her own party, at the end of the long day the feasters raise a harvest toast to you Melissa Lawson.

Have a great week


CERES Harvest Day 2022


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