A Tale of Green Cities | Part 1: CERES

 

“Once a desolate wasteland, today CERES is a place of nature and beauty”

– It reads on the CERES website.

It’s difficult to imagine that CERES, a pocket of greenery tucked away amidst the Brunswick East neighbourhood, was ever a wasteland. The environment park is nothing short of a natural oasis; an extension of the bush corridor that twists along the Merri Creek.

The perimeter is protected by eucalypts, banksias and thick shrubbery, so that once you’re inside, you can no longer see the house-dominated skyline. A gravel path leads you from the mosaicked entrance into the park, circles a dam where ducks paddle and dive, cuts through a patchwork of vegetable gardens and chicken coups and then disperses in all directions amongst grassy clearings, garden patches, art sculptures and little makeshift buildings all dedicated to the sustainable, organic, community-engaging cause. There’s an eco-house and learning centre. There’s an organic café. There’s an organic grocery. There’s a solar thermal dish and biogas plant.

CERES is undoubtedly committed to the propagation of biodiversity, and the 4.5-hectare site is wildlife-abundant.

“Indigenous flora is planted to attract birds and other fauna, fruit trees and organic gardens are planted for on-site food production, and weed and pest species removed.”

Site gardeners are responsible for the enhancement of the ecological performance of the site, increasing the 4 500 native plants biodiversity scope. CERES has become a habitat for a suite of birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals.

CERES is also about growing sustainable food, and the extensive permaculture program invites both volunteers and garden-savvy locals alike to participate. CERES provides a grid of round 50 plots of land to the green-fingered to grow and share their locally sprouted, storm-watered, pesticide-free produce. Meanwhile ‘Honey Lane’ and ‘Joe’s Garden’ draw volunteers to help rear the goods for the CERES grocery. They “contribute to providing local organic produce for homes throughout the local community”.
Moreland City Council proudly hails CERES as a “rich and diverse experience for people through its markets, nursery and many festivals and events”, and the CERES website too celebrates the notion that “CERES is built on community”.

It wasn’t chance that 400 000 visitors and over 2000 volunteers last year; it is clear that CERES is profoundly good at merging community and social enterprise with environmental work, be it through festivals, markets, education and the many volunteering practices.

Amidst an urban landscape, there’s greenery and fresh air at CERES. There’s no concrete. There’s no pollution. There’s no hustle and bustle.

Once a wasteland, CERES is now an eco-land. A snapshot of a greener future for Moreland, a handful of biodiversity waiting to pour into the surrounding neighbourhood, and a team of avid environmentalists ready to take the cause from CERES to their homes, their workplace, to their school and to future generations.

 

Photo credit: Elena Piakis