Parsley bunch at CERES Joe's Garden, Coburg
Getting down to Joe’s

CERES farmer Rachel says the parsley in the picture above is the sweetest she’s ever tasted. It’s been cold down at Joe’s Market Garden in Coburg this past week which may have something to do with the sweetness, then there’s Joe’s deep, dark alluvial soils and of course the skills of Rachel and her volunteers (that’s them below).

Joe’s Market Garden is a beautiful anomaly; a two and a half acre remnant of early Melbourne when market gardens and dairies were dotted along the Merri Creek feeding the growing numbers of city dwellers.

Nestled into a sharp bend on the creek just South of Bell St, over thousands of years it has patiently collected deep layers of fertile silts as well the farmers who would grow on them.  

Joe’s Market Garden is named after farmer Joe Garita who bought it from Chinese market gardeners at the end of World War II. The Chinese farmed it for a hundred years and before that you could imagine it would have been a prime spot for cultivating murrnong (yam daisy).

The market garden came with a one-bedroom cottage, two horses and a plough, which Joe still used well into the 1960’s.

The garden’s rich soils were continually replenished by regular flooding – so regular in fact that in one fourteen year stretch Joe’s farm was flooded eleven times.

The floods that continue to this day saved the farm from disappearing under the rapidly spreading suburbs during the 1950’s.

And while Joe’s garden remained, the other farms up and down the creek disappeared one by one until Joe’s was the last one, becoming a refuge and a welcome source of fresh produce for the suburb’s new residents.

Volunteers at CERES Joe's Garden, Coburg

In 2003 as he was about to retire, Joe Garita handed over the lease to his farm to CERES on the condition it remain a market garden.

Like Joe, CERES set up a farm gate for local people to buy fresh produce – locals flocked to it but more than the produce there’s always been something special about Joe’s that draws farmers and eaters down to this secret corner of the creek.

You can find the sweetest parsley you’ll ever taste and more produce at Joe’s Farm Gate every Saturday morning from 8.30am along with coffee and fresh bread from CERES Bakery.

Have a great week


Aerial view of CERES Joe's Garden, Coburg. 2022


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *