Joe's Market Garden
Located in Coburg, Joe's Market Garden is a 2 acre organic farm right next to the Merri Creek, just 2km north of CERES Brunswick East.
Joe’s Market Garden has been used for agriculture for over 50,000 years by the Wurundjeri people, who get their name from the local white gums which dot the creek and the surrounds of the farm. For the last 150 years, the farm has been continuously farmed by Chinese and Italian gardeners, then in 2003, CERES began farming this market garden here under the guidance of Joe Garita, whose father bought the land in 1945.
Previously known as the Merri Creek Market Garden, Joe’s Garden is our second certified organic farm growing organic produce such as herbs and vegetables. Irrigation water is taken from the mains supply and a 100,000 litre underground water tank collects rainwater from neighbouring townhouses.
Our organic produce grown is sold through CERES Fair Food and through Joe’s farm-gate market.
Come down to the farm-gate, grab a coffee, and some fresh-baked pastries and buy organic produce direct from our resident farmer, Emily Connors. To find out more about the last surviving market garden in Melbourne, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe’s Market Garden is located on the Merri Creek Trail. The main entrance is located on Edna Grove, Coburg. Harding Street also provides access to the trail which runs along the southern side of the garden.
The easiest access to Joe’s is by bicycle along the Merri Creek Trail.
The Number 1 tram runs along Nicholson Street, and stops at Harding Street.
For more public transport details check out the Public Transport Victoria website.
Joe’s Market Garden can be seen from the Merri Creek Trail. Access to the trail is via Harding Street where car parking is available. Joe’s Market Garden has limited wheelchair access within the growing area itself, as it is a market garden with rows of beds surrounded by uneven ground. Joe’s is currently working on providing better access to the Farmgate and Cafe (updated July 2022).
Like speed dating – only you’re weeding! Get to know a new friend, lover or partner whilst weeding in a historic organic farm. Emily Connors has featured on The Age, Radio National, ABC Radio MELBOURNE chatting about weed-dating – the hugely popular dating event that has been growing steadily ever since it’s inception in 2018. Joe’s is the scene for these events, and its really easy to get involved! Check their Facebook page for upcoming weed-dating days.
We also have a corporate volunteer program with staff from different organisations joining us each week to escape the office, get their hands dirty and help us grow food for our community. To find out more about joining our corporate volunteer program click here.
Joe Garita was 89 years old when he passed away. You might have seen him over the years in his Merri Creek market garden working amid his broad beans. Joe has grown vegetables in Coburg since his parents bought the land from Chinese market gardeners in 1945. On that small patch Joe and his wife, Jean, raised seven children and saw the city grow around them. One by one the neighbouring market gardens and dairies that fed the first European settlers turned into houses until finally Joe’s hectare of vegetables was the last market garden in inner-Melbourne; an island of beans, chicory, tomatoes and rapa surrounded by a sea of tin and tile roofs.
A freeway down the Merri was proposed and fought off, supermarkets grew, corner grocers began to disappear and soon many small farmers went with them. But Joe patiently kept planting his crops, kept taking the harvest to Footscray wholesale market on his old flat-bed Toyota.
In 2003 with an eye on retirement Joe began handing over his market garden to CERES. He gave it over a couple of rows at a time – it took three years until he had passed on the whole farm. I didn’t get it at the time but came to realise that he was giving CERES an apprenticeship of sorts, making sure we’d know how to take care of the land he’d stewarded for 60 years. When that was done he kept helping, leading the way, gently pointing out what he saw then leaving it up to us to either learn from his advice or repeat our mistakes.
I learned many things from Joe about being a good farmer but I think I learned more from him about being a good person. He was a forgiving man and despite the many hard things that had happened in his life, he just got on with what was in front of him. When I got mad at people for stealing our zucchinis or broad beans he would brush it off with a story and an infectious giggle that would always turn my frown into a smile.
In the few weeks before he died a stream of family and friends came to say goodbye, to hold his hand, hug him and hear him say “Hey…” in the special welcoming way he had. Joe was a big tree in our community he sheltered and nurtured many. Now he has fallen it is plain to see the space he filled in our lives. I can’t think of the Merri Creek market garden without thinking of the man and even though CERES has been farming there for many years I will always think of this place as Joe’s garden.
Written by Chris Ennis
Order organic fruit, veg and groceries online (next day delivery, Monday – Saturday).