Not only one of the best Farmers’ Markets but also one of the most beautiful. Set amongst the trees and old farm of Collingwood on a bend in the Yarra River, this market has survived (recent takeovers from developers) only four kms from the CBD of Melbourne. In 2002 this was the first Farmers’ market and despite the encroaching development for housing nearby, it’s managed to hold it’s own with commitment and courage from the local community.
As I drove in to the market at 8.10am and I was already late! The cars were queued down the street and plenty of locals with their trolleys, reusable bags, cane baskets and trolleys were making their way to this little gem in the heart of Melbourne.
This market has survived due to the determination and efforts of many people who value what the Collingwood Farm has to offer. And as I drove in, I could see the love that locals have for this place.
In 2010, the market won the Australia’s Outstanding Farmers’ Market prize at the National Produce Awards. The Collingwood Children’s Farm farmers’ market is unquestionably one of the most popular in the country,” says Jane Adams of the Australian Farmers’ Market Association.
What’s on offer? Everything a good marketer needs – veggies, fruit, grains, nuts, meat, fish, baker items, eggs, oil, juice, seedlings, condiments, flowers, cheese, coffee, breakfast and so much more.
This is definitely one of those markets that kids will love. As you enter, there are pens where animals live, orchards, veggie gardens and more. At the market itself, the kids can hang out on the hay bales and try some of the samples that are on offer. This isn’t a market for face painting and cheap imported trinkets – it’s a serious market and a place kids can be immersed in the joys of produce markets.
I was delighted to meet so many wonderful stallholders today. My first was Dad’s Oats, a business that has been around since 1861 and produce the most delicious oats I’ve ever had. I bought some today and around 4pm was a bit peckish so thought ‘why not?’ and cooked up some oats. A dash of local honey and I’m hooked. You can never go back to supermarket oats after these. For more info on their story go to their website here.
They also have the cutest little grinder to grind your own oats which you can look at here. But believe me, these oats are great and so much better than the ‘dust’ that is available in traditional supermarkets.
Then I met the team at Pomegranate Farms. The last time I tried a good pomegranate was in India where they juice them. These however, are far tastier and fresher. I tried the juice and was then offered a slice of pomegranate to eat – joyous! at $3 for a medium sized pomegranate, that’s a bargain.
I then spoke to a lovely lady at Di McDonald’s stall of rhubarb. I’ve never been a fan of rhubarb despite my family all being huge advocates. I’m now a convert. The produce here is superb and not sure why I balked at it in the past. Now I’m not sure I can do Di’s produce justice here because not only does she make jams, chutneys, relishes and cake but her ‘thin rhubarb’ is in demand. I’ve never heard of it before but as I stood there being educated, a woman came up and actually asked ‘do you have any thin rhubarb?’ So there you go – its in demand not only from locals but from many restuarants.
You can find more about Di the rhubarb grower here. Come along and try some of her bunches of fresh rhubarb.
Goat! Lovely creatures and also delicious. In South Africa, goat is a common meat to eat and having travelled there myself, I remember visiting a restaurant Carnivores where you could order any meat you desired. Having eaten goat for several weeks I tried something new – kudu. But it certainly didn’t measure up to this. You can find more info about this product here.
Time for a little education – Boer Goats are a moderately sized heavy goat with good meat producing capabilities. Australia is the largest exporter of goat meat in the world. The Seven Hills farm was established in 2007 and is now on 700+ acres with over 2000 Australian Boer Goats. Seven Hills is also uses sustainable energy such as wind and solar + captured rain water to produce their products. Now that’s quite an achievement.
For more information about this Seven Hills click here. They are a business that many others could imitate to ensure they are delivering the best quality meat.
Storm Haven Galley creates food products celebrating the essential goodness, bounty and safe harbour of the lovely Bellarine region. New to the farmers’ market industry, Storm Haven have found a niche that isn’t currently covered by others.
Their limes are fresh and as at the time of posting (April), in season. A bag of 500gms for $4.50 is well worth purchasing. For more information about Storm Haven check out their Facebook page here.
Michel’s Fine Biscuits are one of those treats that are perfect for afternoon tea with family and friends or as a gift for a special occasion (a special occasion to me is…..well everyday). Beautifully packaged and presented, Michel’s products are very different to the everyday cookie items that I see at markets and well worth buying.
Michel’s Biscuits are all made by hand in Castlemaine. They choose local, fresh and organic ingredients where possible as well as Australian specialty grown products. For more information you can check out Michel’s Facebook page here.
Recommend you bring your own bag or trolley along so plastic bags as this is a plastic bag free market. Also try to bring smaller notes. We all know that the ATM’s dispense $50’s and stall holders are prepared for that but when so many people turn up with larger notes it becomes problematic for them.
OPENING HOURS: 8am to 1pm. Operates the second Saturday of every month.
LOCATION: Collingwood Childrens Farm, 18 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford
PARKING: If you get there early, you can use the carpark right next to the market. Cost is free for first half hour but after that you’ll pay $4. Pay by cash or card at the pay station in the car park.
0 – 30 mins = free (weekends $2)
30min – 1 hour = $2 (weekends $3)
1.5 hours = $4
2 hours = $5
2.5 hours = $6
3 hours = $7
3.5 hours = $8
4 hours = $9
4.5 hours = $10
5 hours = $11
5.5 – 10 hours = $12
Max daily rate = $28 (until 2am)
Proceeds go to the Abbotsford Convent Foundation and the Collingwood Children’s Farm.
TRANSPORT: Via bus – Catch the Garden City/Bulleen Bus 200, 201 and 207 which leave from the City in Lonsdale St, and run along Johnston Street. Get off at Clarke Street and turn left into St. Helliers Street.
DISABLED ACCESS: Good disabled access on bush path. Lots of space between stalls. In the wet can be a little boggy.
ATM: The nearest is a long distance away. Please bring enough coins and cash for purchases. Smaller denominations are best.
DOGS: Permitted on a leash and under the owners control.
FOOD: Good selection of gozleme, fresh fruit, coffee, pastries and snacks
TOILET FACILITIES: Available at the entrance
On Facebook – Collingwood Childrens Farm Farmers Market
On Instagram no account but #collingwoodchildrensfarmfarmersmarket
Twitter – @ccffarmersmarket
Now it’s your turn. Share your stories of the Collingwood Childrens Farm Farmers Market. Likes, dislikes, bargains you’ve bought and people you’ve met. Leave a comment below.