Magpie school

In my head I knew it was coming but it wasn’t until after work on Friday standing in the drive-through at the Lomond Hotel that it sunk in – we were actually re-opening.

The woman behind the till handed me my bottle and casually said, “It’s six o’clock, you can take your mask off .”

I numbly peeled my mask off and walked home.  

All week at CERES there have been re-opening signs.

Chloe, the Student Programs Manager, announced that school children were coming back to CERES to do face-to-face lessons in November.

I went to the Nursery, Jackie, one of crew, had been refilling the seedling displays over and over as people rushed in for their heirloom tomatoes and summer veggies.

Over in Preston at CERES Fair Wood, manager Hayden said he’d been busy fielding orders for macrocarpa sleepers all week.

Meanwhile, up the creek at Joe’s Garden the daily flood of walkers and picnickers coming to the farmgate had receded leaving farmers Em and Claire to get back to their spring plantings.

All around things feels renewed; grevilleas and glossy bottle brush are out, loquats are yellowing up, even magpies have taken a break from swooping to teach their full-sized fledglings the dark arts of magpie-ary.

Opening’s a bit bitter-sweet though – there are reminders things won’t be the same.

Like so many other workplaces CERES is introducing rapid antigen testing this coming Monday.  

Among our teachers and retail staff there’s this tension anticipating the angry customer or student who shouts when reminded to check-in or keep a mask on.

Josh, CERES produce buyer, says he’s been having a hard time sourcing greens and herbs lately because two of his farms had COVID cases that stopped them harvesting for a week.

Then there are our co-workers who were stood-down or sent to work from home for not getting vaccinated – despite our differences we just want them, and all the other things, to go back to normal.

On Wednesday at the Fair Food warehouse the coming long weekend’s exodus brought a rare quiet day to the packing line. 

After eighteen adrenalised months the lull was gratefully accepted – everyone taking time to reflect on what we’d all just gotten through. 

Thanks for being there with us, 


Decorated Fair Food box with neon hearts


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