Fourteen years ago when CERES Grocery (known then as CERES Market) opened its doors – or more accurately its gate, it was like so many things at CERES – a triumph of optimism and enthusiasm over common-sense and business planning. There was no market testing, no SWOT analysis, no unique value proposition, nobody knew how to run a produce market, nobody knew if anybody would even come, there was just a cashbox, a couple of scales, a trestle table and blind faith. Blind faith there were others who didn’t want to shop under fluoro lights at Coles, who sensed a rightness in organic farming, who wanted to know where their food came from and that the profits would be put to good use.
With wheelbarrows of produce harvested from our Honey Lane market garden (it seemed like such a lot at the time), topped up by a vanload of produce bought from Vic Markets, CERES Grocery opened for four hours each Saturday morning and became for many years the social hub of Melbourne’s inner North. Business grew and grew, lines stretched out the gate, local musicians played, craftspeople traded – it was like a mini-festival every weekend. I remember going into a bookshop and reading a poem in a book – an ode to the smiling staff on our tills. To cope with the growing crowds the Grocery opened on Wednesdays becoming a day for parents. On some days there were so many prams they had to be left outside so everyone could fit in.
But as the years went by and new organic shops and delivery services opened we knew it was time for CERES Grocery to change. And so after two months of intense deconstruction and building CERES Grocery shed its old skin and reopened on Saturday (that’s Emily at the opening below). Still with the chooks and gardens just over the fence, the noisy school kids on their way to lessons, the local music and crafts but it’s grown up now, changed as we all do.
Check it out it’s probably the most relaxing place you’ll ever buy a litre of organic milk and or kilo of apples. CERES Grocery is open 9-5pm 7 days a week (though Saturdays are still a bit special).