You can’t help but feel a little European when you swap cooking tips with growers at a farmers’ market. Here are some of our favourite stalls selling the best spring produce.
Field to Feast
“The beginning of spring isn’t what everyone expects it to be; it’s the end of winter produce,” Cath Fiefa from Field to Feast explains. She runs the farm with her partner Hapi Fiefa in Catherine Fields using unconventional dry-land farming practices. Field to Feast harvests a phenomenal 52 weeks of the year, selling direct to consumers and wholesaling to About Life grocers.
“Hapi doesn’t water the plants – we grow as nature intended, meaning no fertiliser or manure, either,” Fiefa says. “Our plants grow stronger because they have to look for water, so they send roots into the ground.”
Snow peas, radish, lettuce, leafy greens and leeks are some of Fiefa’s picks of the season. “Leeks now are really sweet and wonderful. People don’t use them properly – they’re actually a really great standalone vegetable. Chargrill them and dress with oil, lemon and garlic, or do as the French would and boil them lightly and toss in a light vinaigrette.”
Sunday – Marrickville Organic Food Markets
The Free Range Butcher
Good rainfall in central and northern NSW has led to some of the best lamb in years, says Ben Clinch. And now is the best time to buy it.
“It’s all new season, young lamb, so it’s going to be the best now,” Clinch says. “Grass-fed beef is going to be good now too because of the good season; there’s a lot of good grass around, so you’re getting great quality.”
A family-run farm now in its ninth year of operation, The Free Range Butcher is based in Barraba, 90 kilometres north of Tamworth. It sells grass-fed, 28-day dry-aged beef and lamb and pasture-fed free-range pork and poultry from its own farm and from others that share its philosophy.
“Everything’s got to come to room temperature before you cook it,” Clinch advises. “And resting afterwards is crucial.”
Friday – The Beaches Market, Warriewood
Saturday – Kings Cross Organic Food Market; Ramsgate Organic Foodies Market; Castle Hill Growers Market (second and fourth Saturday of the month); Orange Grove Market; Wahroonga Farmers Market; Northside Produce Market, North Sydney (first and third Saturday of the month)
Randall Organic Rice
Rice and spice markets are common throughout Asia and the Middle East. But our easy access to supermarket varieties has fooled many into believing the grain is evergreen.
“Brown rice is especially seasonal,” owner of Randall Organic Rice Timothy Randall says. “We harvest yearly, so the rice is best straight after harvest in winter and spring, because the heat can really spoil it.”
Randall Organic Rice is located in Murrami, between Leeton and Griffith in the Riverina. It has been growing chemical-free rice for 27 years but has only been milling under its own name for five years.
“We used to grow for Sunrice,” Randall says.
Jasmine, Koshihikari (a Japanese short grain), the low-GI Doongara, and Langi – the standard Australian long grain – are some of Randall’s specialties, as are organic brown-rice cakes.
“Make sure you soak long-grain brown rice for a couple of hours before cooking,” Randall suggests. “I prefer the absorption method, before tossing with veggies and tamari.”
Sunday – Eveleigh Markets, Carriageworks (first and third Saturday of the month);
Frenchs Forest Organic Food Market (first Sunday of the month).
Coal River Farm
“People don’t realise that cheese changes quite dramatically throughout the seasons, because the milk changes – protein and fat content differs.”
On a dairy farm just outside of Hobart Daniel Leesong adapts his cheese recipe depending on the milk he is working with. It’s his second year of making traditional artisan cheeses and chocolates.
“Triple-cream brie is coming into its prime at the moment, and likewise are the blues made in autumn, which are just coming of age,” Leesong says.
The dairy farm grows pigs to feed off the whey, a byproduct of the cheese, so every part of the milk is used. As well as pigs and chickens, Coal River Farm is also an orchardist.
“By the end of spring, we’ll have artisan chocolates designed with freshly picked berries, apricots and other mixed fruits from our orchard. It’s completely paddock to plate.”
Thursdays – Hornsby Organic Food Markets
Saturdays – Orange Grove Market; Wahroonga Farmers Market
Sundays – Frenchs Forest Organic Food Market
Peyton Blu Royale Seafood
The core product is A-grade, sashimi-quality Huon salmon, which arrives daily on the Spirit of Tasmania and travels up to Sydney. But family-run Peyton Blu Royale Seafood carries everything from Snowy Mountains rainbow trout to bluefin tuna and monkfish. It’s all from Australia or New Zealand, sustainably farmed, antibiotic-free, and wild-caught varieties are available, too. The seafood seller will even source you a giant octopus to feed 50, if you ask.
“Locate, find and provide. That’s what we say,” owner Carl Wellock says. “We will source anything for anybody.”
“The blue-eye trevalla is amazing at the moment. So is the monkfish, or the ‘poor man’s lobster’ as we call it. Long-line-caught snapper comes in regularly from New Zealand.”
For the time-poor, marinated, ready-to-cook options such as a barramundi with a chilli, lime and curry leaf crush are popular.
Thursday – Double Bay Organic Markets
Friday – Wollongong Produce & Creative Traders Markets
Saturday – Riverside Organic Food & Farmers Market, Huntley’s Point; Kings Cross Organic Food Market; Orange Grove Market
Sunday – Marrickville Organic Food Market; Frenchs Forest Organic Food Market
Read about eight of our favourite market stalls for cooked food here.
All locations are subject to change. Please contact the market stall owner for updated market locations.