Joe’s Market Garden FarmRaiser
Yesterday a group of visitors from ORI Co-op came down to visit Joe’s Market Garden and take in the Saturday Farmgate. It was a beautiful scene; a group of regular veggie shoppers were gathered around the fire bin chatting, sipping coffee, breathing in wood smoke mixed with the smell of soil wet from last night’s rain.
Over near the spring onion and lettuce rows with farmer Em Connors and Michelle Garita (Joe’s daughter) we talked market gardening – all the regular subjects, the soil, the weather, what’s growing, crop rotations, how the finances work.
But for all we talked about soil tests or crop planning there was more to talk about how Joe’s Garden connects with its community.
Our guests react with equal parts fascination and laughter as Em explains the farm’s sold out Weed Dating sessions and how this garden is equally at home helping people find romance as it is bunching up bok choi.
There’s also a deep recognition of the timeliness of the murnong (yam daisy) growing project – a partnership with the Merri Creek Management Council and the catalyst for a new friendship with the Wurundjeri Tribe Council.
Our conversation roams over fertile ground; the informal farm workshops, the thousands of corporate & community volunteers, music events, the ongoing relationship with original market gardener Joe’s wife Jean, his cousin Vince and the recent growing involvement of Joe and Jean’s children, Michelle and Don.
It all reminds me that the harvest of Joe’s Market Garden encompasses much more than broad beans and salad greens.
Market gardener and author, Michael Abelman, once said communities need farms to anchor them. The opposite also holds true which is why CERES is putting on a FarmRaiser party to raise money for a cool room and one of these amazing paper pot planters.
The FarmRaiser is on this September 8th 6pm-10pm in the Pavilion at CERES (aka the old café). There’ll be bands, raffles, games, trivia, bar and nibbles and all, as always, are welcome.
A GREEN Drought
Joe Sgro (that’s him up there), who is one of Fair Food’s biggest veggie growers, is staying home in Colac for the next couple of weeks. The cold dry winter has slowed everything down so much at his place there’s not much to harvest.
Meanwhile Josh, Fair Food’s produce buyer, has been walking around the warehouse with his brow furrowed. The usual winter shortages have come a month earlier this year. Josh is predicting September and October could be fairly lean.
And although there was a pretty good rain on Friday night up until now it’s been a really dry winter. The Murray Darling catchment has had its driest first 6 months of the year since 1986 and remember we had the Millennium Drought between these dates.
There’s a green tinge around but actually our soil is very dry, meteorologists are talking a “green drought” and unless we get good spring rain it’s pointing to tough conditions for growers this summer.
The message for us getting ready for summer gardening is make sure to dig in plenty of compost to hold onto soil moisture and once things start warming up have lots of mulch ready to keep the sun off. Oh and also to visualise, manifest, pray or dance for lots more rain.
Have a great week