The Northside Produce Market is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. Just up the road from Greenwood Plaza on the grassy grounds of the Northside Community Centre, the market is a thrilling discovery for the uninitiated. Stallholders are proud of what they produce and it’s not hard to see why. Crowds stream in on market days, greeting farmers and specialty producers like old friends, even in the most dreary of weather conditions. Tawnya Bahr, a specialist in gastronomic tourism and the host of behind-the-scenes tours of the market says, “People always come, even when it’s raining. They just put on their gumboots.”
The offering of unique produce – ranging from fresh goat’s curd aged only 24 hours, to organic fruit and vegetables and handmade confectionary – is irresistible here, and it’s tough to leave without a heaving bagful of goods. You can’t help but share the enthusiasm of the farmers, providores, cheese makers and bakers that comprise the market’s 75 stalls.
The produce and characters you will discover at Northside Produce Market include Michael and Cressida McNamara, who manufacture East Friesian ewe’s cheese and curd at Pecora Dairy in Robertson in the Southern Highlands. A few stalls along you’ll encounter farmer Sam Grima, who touts his parsley roots – which look like overgrown parsnips – as “the new kale”.
Many of the stalls and brands here have credentials known well beyond the market’s gates. Darling Mills Farm supplies around 50 restaurants with lettuce, herbs, micro-herbs and edible flowers (including Tetsuya’s) and offers plastic containers of exquisite edible flowers to take home.
The market’s diehard following can be traced to the high standards it maintains, explains Karen Borg of Willowbrae Chevré Cheese. “Our customers are very loyal, and if people open a stall here, and they’re not all they’re cracked up to be, they disappear pretty quickly.” What sets Northside Produce Market apart is the desire for inclusiveness – to bring even more producers and buyers into the fold. The free, behind-the-scenes tours that are available each market day are part of this initiative, and provide meet and greets and tastings with the farmers and producers. It seems no matter where you’re from, the people at Northside are determined to make you feel like a local.
Northside Produce Market
Civic Park, 220 Miller Street North Sydney
(02) 9922 2299