Rainbow over Joe's Garden, Coburg
Shelter in the storm

In the summer of 2005 a huge low pressure system spiralled down the East Coast, parked itself over Port Phillip Bay and for the next 30 hours dumped a metre and a half of rain on Melbourne.

In Coburg the Merri Creek burst its banks flooding Joe’s Garden, washing away fences and depositing zucchini plants high in trees.

Over thousands of years these floods have brought with them the nutrient rich sediments that created Joe’s fertile dark brown soils.

Like the floods, COVID has brought people and their dogs – each day they stream down streets to walk the Creek.

During the lockdown the Creek is one of the few places that still connects people and nature without the need for a screen.

And during this time Joe’s Farmgate has been open seven days a week.

With the threat of COVID it would have been an easy decision for the farmers to close the Farmgate and grow their vegetables safely behind the fence.

Instead Em Connors and her crew took a deep breath and decided with cautious generosity to keep serving their community.  

Veteran city farmer, Michael Abelman, talked about his farm becoming an anchor for the town that grew up around his once rural orchard.

With its produce, pastries and coffee Joe’s Farmgate is becoming a sort of creek-side emotional first aid post for weary-hearted walkers.

The combination of water, green space, birds, friendly faces and good food is a healing balm.

Em Connors gives out a “mandatory” mandie to each customer – a sweet reminder for customers tempted to stay to keep walking.

Through the storm of this last eighteen months Joe’s Farmgate is growing up; evolving its identity from CERES’ little sister site into something entirely its own.

Last week Joe’s Farmgate turned six.  You can find it in Coburg on the Merri Creek walking path between the old swing bridge and Edna Grove.

Have a great week

Chris

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