Co-owner Patrick Taverna with business partners Mario Di Ienno and Gerald Diffey, are trying to do things a little differently in Carlton North.
The trio took over what was called The Fruit Shed and re-opened as St Clements Green Grocer. Di Ienno and Diffey, who own Gerald’s Bar right next door, saw the opening and took the opportunity to create a daytime community hub with a strong emphasis on local produce.
Much of the fruit and vegetables on the shelves sit in wooden wine boxes and are provided by the wholesaler who sells to Gerald’s. Keep scanning the small room – with handwritten produce information on torn pieces of cardboard, elegant lighting and a bare corrugated iron ceiling – and you’ll also find apples hand-picked by Ennio Merli in Merricks or organic grapefruit from Yea. With a focus on seasonal produce, availability can often change, but for St Clements its all about nurturing the community by providing quality and honest produce.
There are dried goods too – organic pastas and grains – as well as vinegars from Queensland and the not local, but very good, tinned sardines and squid from Spanish company Cuca. The fridge holds milk from That’s Amore in Donnybrook and Myrtleford Butter (they also sell Myrtleford’s buttermilk soap) and the freezer provides Jock’s Ice Cream. Bread is from Baker D. Chirico.
It’s a spirited shop that embraces the season, thrives on its sense of place and doesn’t require an engineering degree to run: just passion for product and experience – and they’ve certainly got that covered.