Update. Original released, Sunday, March 4th, 2012
On Sunday morning, an article in The Sunday Age alleged that produce from CERES Organic Farms was contaminated.
CERES Fair Food was established to better connect people with some of Victoria’s best organic producers. Produce sourced by CERES Fair Food comes from certified organic farms, which are subject to strict certification criteria relating to pesticides and other chemicals.
Our members have never been exposed to potential health risks associated with lead contaminants. A small proportion of our produce is sourced from CERES Merri Creek Farm (Harding Street), which is also certified organic. This site has never even been in question. As a precaution, independent laboratory tests of the Merri Creek Farm were commissioned by CERES in November, and showed no abnormalities.
CERES is currently compiling a full online release of the results, which will provide access to raw data, as well as independent statutory standards with which to interpret the results. It will be made available as soon as possible through the main CERES website.
The Age article has caused some confusion with the members of CERES Fair Food, regarding the safety of produce grown in the CERES Honey Lane Market Garden and community garden plots.
The facts of the matter are as follows:
In August 2011, CERES management was made aware of a study completed by tertiary students that had found elevated levels of lead in some produce samples collected from the Honey Lane Market Garden on the main site.
As soon as this data came to light, CERES Community Environment Park immediately withdrew all produce grown at the CERES Honey Lane Market Garden from sale. CERES also commissioned independent laboratory testing of soil and produce to check the students’ findings, as CERES was not aware of the validity of the methodology used.
The tests revealed normal levels in the CERES Honey Lane Market Garden where produce for sale onsite at CERES is sourced.
The only sample showing results slightly higher than the Australia New Zealand Food Standards related to a single Community Garden plot. These plots do not and have never produced food for public consumption. CERES has worked closely with the community gardeners throughout this process, and has openly provided information, feedback and support in a timely manner.
The matter was also referred to the Moreland City Council that in December also commissioned testing of Honey Lane, the Community Garden plots and other areas of CERES. The results have yet to be officially reported and CERES is waiting to receive this advice in writing.
For a full statement issued by the CERES Chairperson Robert Larocca, please click here.
If you have any queries, please contact Robert Larocca, CERES Chairperson at Robert_Larocca@yahoo.com.au or 0409 198 350.