If ever there was an under-the-radar farmer it's Joe Valente from Mornington Organics, I've known Joe for more than 10 years and as I was writing this I realised I didn't have a single photo of him. I got on-line and after an hour of fruitless Google searching nothing; no webpage, no Facebook, no twitter, not even an article about him in a local paper - nothing. The man's the antithesis of 21st century look-at-me social marketing(that's not even Joe's hand in the picture - imagine something broader, earthier, more farmer-like).
Joe Valente grows broccoli, corn, lettuce and tomatoes on the Peninsula and shares a stand at the Footscray wholesale market with Joe Sgro from Foothill Organics. Two more different men you could not find. While Joe Sgro is the gregarious front man who appears on MasterChef with his stories and his Midnight Pure potatoes, Joe Valente is much more reserved. Joe's happy to stay in the background, to just come to market, sell his produce and then go back to the farm. I've known weeks to pass between Joe's words and a smile from him is a rare thing.
Anyway, all this leads to the news that Joe Valente's first cherry tomatoes are ready this week. We'll have Joe's tomatoes as well as his broccoli in most of our set boxes and in the Fruit and Veg section,
Last week you might have read about the very-good-for-sharing whole boxes of cherries in the webshop which many of you took advantage of. This week Josh, Fair Food's produce buyer, is putting up whole trays of peaches and nectarines with the same idea in mind. Stone fruit season is in full swing and nothing says, "Hello Summer," like a tray of juicy white peaches!
Robert Larocca's gift of governance
Walk along the Merri Creek and it's the flashy purple blooms of a chocolate lily or a dianella that catch our eyes - same goes at CERES, our eyes are drawn to the noisy groups of school kidscatching tadpoles in the pond, learning about how our wetlands work. What you don't notice however, standingsilently in the background holding the soil on the pond bank together, creating the habitat and shade for other plants and animals are the canopy trees.
Now if some people arewild-flowers and some people are trees then Robert Larocca is like one of those canopy trees. After 10 years as CERES Chairperson and four more on the management committee Robert Larocca is finally standing down.
Robert Larocca is a rare tree indeed; he is passionate about meetings (I said rare didn't I). Robert sees the beauty and power of a well run meeting, meetings that get through business, meetings that stick to agendas and meetings that finish on time. He, along with CERES'other canopy trees, have been there to see us through the hardest of times.
Places like CERES, families, friendship groups, businesses, cities, countries need these perennial people, the trees, the stayers who are tall enough to see the whole and old and patient enough to get through the hard times. These old trees, the ones the wild-flowers grow around each year, the ones the animals come and go from, the ones who provide the structure and the stability for things to go on, for the rest of us to thrive.
Through all his time at CERES Robert has also raised a family, had a busy career and ridden a bike he loves up and down mountains. At any time over those past 14 years he's had every excuse to bowout and leave the job to somebody else but he didn't. Robert could have been a wild-flower and that would have been fine but instead he stayed and stayed and gave CERES the gift of governance and became a tree, our tree.
Thanks Robert, may you enjoy your last CERES AGM.
Have a great week
PS if you're a governance geek like our Robert see the fresh off the press CERES' Annual Report. As annual reports go it's surprisingly readable.
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