This morning while I froze on the sidelines at my son's footy game I thought of the Foothills Organics crew down in Colac harvesting in the frost. My hands felt sympathy pains for whoever was washing the radishes and leeks. When I got home I called Joe Sgro who said the frost had stuck around all morning. He was hoping a band of rain coming from the West would give them a break from the freezing weather for a while.
We chatted a bit about what Joe's growing and whether he's planting his beautiful midnight pure spuds this year but the topic inevitably turned to the new wholesale markets opening in Epping in August. Joe is no fan of the new $600 million market that's come in over double its budget but has somehow reduced the trading floor spaces for available farmers.
The current government blames the previous government for the design but all Joe knows is that he has to travel further and pay a lot more to rent less space. Joe laughs and reckons the Melbourne Market Authority must be expecting a flood of complaints from unhappy farmers and traders because it's introducing a $1000 dispute lodgement fee.
We say goodbye and Joe leaves me with a local Colac aphorism - "Don't plant in winter months beginning with J." I ask why and he tells me that whatever you plant in June and July will always be overtaken by what you planted in August. "Although we did plant a bit of broccoli this month," he adds sheepishly.
This week you'llfind Joe Sgro's beetroot, cabbage, daikon, fennel, leeks, parsley, potatoes, radishes and turnips in our set boxes and our veg section.
Go towards the light Ameen
With the winter solstice tomorrow the return of the light begins. The light also returns this week for Ameen, one of Fair Food's favourite sons. After two years working as a leading hand on the Fair Food packing line Ameen leaves us to begin work as a carpenter, the trade he practised before the Iraq War forced him to leave his home.
Like many people who come to Australia as refugees Ameen had no contacts, no networks, no family to fall back on. When the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre referred him to Fair Food for work Ameen was living on handouts and emergency food.
A job at Fair Food gave Ameen the stability and income he needed to make a start and get settled, get normal. And in a boringly normal fashion Ameen found his new job, like so many of us do, through a connection he made at work.
For somebody who has been through so much hardship Ameen is an amazingly positive person. And when you meet a young man like Ameen who is an industrious worker, who volunteers to repay the help the ASRC gave him, who plays passionately for his local soccer team, it is clearly Australia's gain to have people like him here.
We've been lucky to work with Ameen and though we are all sad to see him go, he's clearly ready to resume his life. We send you off with all of our best wishes. Go toward the light!
CERES Annual Appeal continues
Each year over 60,000 school students, like the cute bunch in the picture, roll into CERES to get hands-on with soil and water, plants and creatures and day to day life of other peoples. They come to find out first hand where our water, food and energy comes from, how indigenous people and cultures from around the world live with their environments and how they can live in harmony with the world around them. A further 800,000 students and their teachers participate in programs CERES teachers delivers in schools across Victoria.
The CERES annual appeal runs until June 31st . Click here to donate online. Donations are tax deductible and you'll receive a receipt for your donation by email instantly.
Have a great week
CERES Fair Food's weekly update with stories from our farmers and producers, Food Hosts, the Fair Food warehouse and theworld at large.