40 years of ceres
In 1982, a small group of people in the inner north area approached the then-Brunswick (now Merri-bek) Council about making use of a barren stretch of land that flanked the Merri Creek. The land had lain unused since it had been abandoned following its use as a landfill site.
The group – who took on the name CERES – signed the lease to the Park in Brunswick East on 26th March 1982.
They wanted to grow vegetables and make compost as part of a “work-for-the-dole” program. Access to employment was a concern for the local community, and people could see a benefit for the local environment as well.
Explorations in alternative technology quickly followed, with many projects still visible at the park today. As awareness of the importance of healthy ecosystems grew, so did the number of school groups visiting to learn about emerging programs in green technology, recycling and organic farming.
Every tree you see at CERES today was planted by the community over the past 40 years. The first tree was planted on 16 September 1981. Wildlife had begun to return as habitat became more established, and the sacred kingfisher – which had disappeared from the Merri Creek during the late 20th century – returned in 1994.
Throughout those early years, CERES was reliant on funding, grants and donations to remain operational, but there was always a desire to be as financially self-sustaining as possible. With that in mind, a number of social enterprises were established throughout the late 90s and early 2000s — the plant nursery, the organic market and grocery, fair food, the cafe and venue hire.
Memories of CERES:
“First as a Mother of primary school children in the 90’s, gladly accompanying class outings because your message was so important for my girls to hear. Secondly, as a health promotion manager, visiting Ceres with members of a local food co-op to learn how to run an organic bulk food enterprise (and being impressed but not surprised by the depth of your experience & commitment)”.