Fruit, vegetable and market garden directory
I once bought strawberries from a farmer at a market, and absentmindedly popped one in my mouth as I walked away.
The strawberry oozed with sweetness and robust flavour; I inhaled several more. Soft and juicy, they dyed my fingers and teeth.
I spun around and demanded answers! "Why are these strawberries so delicious?" I asked.
"I pick them ripe," the farmer replied.
I stopped eating fruit while living in London—it was tasteless, so pointless—after the magnificent strawberries, I began to eat fruit again.
Deliciousness can be a catalyst for change.
Yet over several years, Coles and Woolworths have destroyed the fruit and vegetables that Australians buy. Because of their sourcing policies and streamlined distribution, only a handful of massive monoculture farms grow Australia's crops. Marketing, transport, handling, shelf-life and appearance is prioritised; flavour is forgotten.
Successive federal governments have also contributed to the decline in food quality and the disappearance of small to medium sized farms. Free trade agreements opened the floodgate to imported produce. This produce may be cheaper because of economies of scale, the use of slave labour, questionable processing, or illegal dumping. Australian farmers, with higher standards and costs, simply can't compete.
The result? More synthetic chemicals are used to grow our food, nutritional value is lost, and energy is wasted during shipping and storage. Produce is tasteless and rots within days. And now, our food system is vulnerable in the face of the combined effects of multiple disasters, fuel price increases and large-scale pandemics. Which is a problem, if you need to eat.
We must cultivate small, diverse, ecological farms close by.
I've listed local market gardens that sell direct, or through independent stores. They grow a wide range of plants using biological principles, to encourage beneficial micro-organisms in the soil, which in turn, creates healthy plants. They harvest in the morning or the day before so the produce is fresh, and lasts longer. Better still, it's delicious!
Look for local and seasonal produce at farmers' markets and independent stores near you. Taste the difference and tell your friends!
Bellofoodbox distributes seasonal fresh food from growers within a 160km radius of Bellingen. They promote the local economy, encourage sustainable agricultural practices and contribute to a fair, connected and resilient community. Tip from @foodconnect
Block 11 Organics, Richmond and Nashdale
Greg and Katie Kocanda grow certified organic vegetables, herbs and fruit on their farms. Using the knowledge passed down from Greg’s grandfather, they grow many heirloom vegetables, including an exquisite eggplant!
Boon Luck Farm Organics, Tyagarah
Certified by the Australian Chemical Free Growers Association, this farm is dedicated to growing delicious heirloom varieties of tropical fruits, asian and local vegetables and herbs of all varieties.
Boutique Garlic, Springside
Dougal combines many different methods to grow food, including conventional, organic, biodynamic, holistic and scientific. He specializes in garlic, but he also grows a range of seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Brightside Produce, Captains Flat
Emily Yarra and Michael Kobier produce a range of heirloom vegetables on their small biological farm. They sell through weekly produce boxes, with an array of seasonal vegetables and eggs, delivered to a central collection point in Canberra.
Buena Vista Farm, Gerrigong
Fiona and Adam have a chemical-free market garden in which they grow garlic, asparagus, rhubarb and an array of seasonal vegetables.
Byron Bay Organic Produce, Ewingsdale
Janelle Johnston’s grandparents tilled the soil with a horse and plough, and used no synthetic chemicals to grow food. Janelle continues the family tradition using natural fertilisers, compost, beneficial insects, companion planting, crop rotations and planting by the Moon.
Darling Mills Farm, Berrilee
Steven Adey grows a large number of salad leaves, herbs, micro herbs and edible flowers in mixed plantings. His methods include biological farming, permaculture and hydroponics. He uses compost to replenish the soil; sprays are used sparingly and are organically certified.
Farm and Co, Cudgen
Michele Stephens and her partner Ian Kettle run the farm with an on-farm cafe, produce store and box deliveries. While the farm is not organically certified, they grow using organic farming practices.
Field to Feast, Catherine Field
Hapi and Cath Fiefa grow a wide range of vegetables, herbs, and greens with an occasional fruit crop tossed in. They don’t use any sprays or synthetic chemicals, and apart from when the recent drought bit hard, they practice dryland farming.
Fig Tree Farm Wee Jasper, Wee Jasper
Rich Carey and fiancée Liz specialise in growing heirloom vegetables, salad greens and Barnevelder chickens. The produce is grown free from synthetic chemicals, harvested when ripe, reaching its CSA subscribers less than 24 hours after harvest.
First Farm Organics, Lithgow
Horticulturalist and landscape designer Fabrice Rolando has turned his hand to market gardening. He builds his soil with chicken manure, basalt rock dust, composted wood chips and dolomite, and makes his own compost. No synthetic fertilisers or sprays are used.
Fishbone Farm, Cobargo
Tim Stewart and Thea Constantaridis work the soil in their biological market garden – mulching, composting, applying green manures and good crop rotations – to produce delicious and nutritious seasonal vegetables and herbs for boxes and local markets.
On a four-acre plot of land, local grower Skye Shannon brings fresh, seasonal, chemical-free vegetables to the local community. Tip from @radgrowers
Fox and Quail Farm, Kangaroo Valley
Ken grows heirloom vegetables without synthetic chemicals. He sells to local outlets and at the farm gate.
Green Connect Illawarra, Warrawong
This not-for-profit social enterprise that grows 55 varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs on their 11-acre urban permaculture farm, while employing young people and former refugees.
Green Goddess Farm, Findon Creek
Rhys Minton and Sasha Welker grow up to 40 different kinds of vegetables, fruits and flowers on their 3.5 acre certified organic farm–everything from artichokes to zucchini and apples to zinnias.
Hungry Earth Agroecology, Byron Bay
To an organic standard, the Hungry Earth team plant and nurture vegetables on a plot at The Farm. Each Monday, they harvest and pack the veges into boxes for lucky locals.
Kurrawong Organics, Bathurst
Lesley, Quentin Bland and son Alex specialise in brassicas: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts. They also grow apples, stonefruit, herbs, kale, fennel and spinach. Their market customers enjoy freshly picked produce. Tip from @DairyGoodness
Mahbrook Organics, Albion Park
Brothers Chris and Adam Bridger, along with their families, have turned their passion for permaculture into a certified organic farm. They grow a wide variety of produce including leafy greens, lettuce, shallots, leeks, cabbages, broccoli, beetroot, herbs and garlic.
The Mandarin Bend, Girralong
Tom Macindoe and Kaycee Simuong grow a range of seasonal, certified organic produce. Interesting and beautiful produce include purple amaranth, Egyptian spinach, Thai round eggplants and Turkish orange eggplants alongside all the usual favourites.
Mayfield Farm, Dorrigo Plateau
A variety of seasonal vegetables are grown, including chemical-free potatoes. The orchard produces apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums and more. The fruit trees are sprayed annually with preparation allowed for organic gardeners.
Moonacres Farm, Fitzroy
Phil Lavers and his team grow seasonal vegetables on the certified organic farm, including kale, rhubarb, and potatoes, plus fruit like plums, apples and nashi pears.
Near River Produce, Mid North Coast
Andrew and Therese Hearne left Sydney to follow their dream of owning a farm and producing food for their community. They deliver boxes that include produce from six to seven organic (or in-conversion) farmers.
Ooooby’s profits are reinvested into developing local food production, whilst ensuring that all participants in the supply chain are rewarded fairly. This includes paying their farmers 50 per cent of the total retail value for the supply and delivery of the produce to the hub.
Old Mill Road BioFarm, Moruya
Fraser Bayley and Kirsti Wilkinson grow vegetables and herbs without any pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. They produce a range of seasonal mixed vegetables for their local farmers' market, box subscription, restaurants and cafes.
Piccolo Farm, Thirlmere
Lizzie and Gianluigi Buscaino grow a wide range of produce, specialising in lettuce mix, heirloom tomatoes and edible flowers. They grow strong plants in a healthy environment, due to their strict chemical free policy. Their bees help pollinate and chickens turn garden scraps into eggs.
Pocket City Farms, Camperdown
The non-profit organisation is a productive hub where the community can gather to learn about farming and food growing, buy super-local, chemical-free produce that is grown on the urban farm, participate in composting, and take part in workshops and events.
Popes Produce, Woonona
Popes Produce is a market garden based on permaculture principals; it is tucked in a suburban backyard north of Wollongong. They have a CSA where you can buy weekly edible bouquets with a smattering of edible flowers, a variety of herbs and vegetables.
Primrose Valley Farm, Primrose Valley
Paul and Carly sell excess produce boxes to neighbours in Canberra.
Purple Pear Farm, Hunter Valley
Kate and Mark grow chemical-free produce cultivated in healthy soils. Their CSA members share the risks of harvest; during a difficult growing season, some crops or shares may not be plentiful but during good times, they may enjoy the bounty.
RAD Growers, Bungowannah
Erin O’Callaghan and Belinda Joy Sheekey grow a range of produce, using crop rotations and cover crops, to build a diverse and resilient ecosystem. They aim to keep their inputs as local as possible, making compost from café and supermarket waste, and manure from a neighboring beef farm and racetrack.
Rita’s Farm Produce, Kemps Creek
Rita grows pesticide-free vegetables, herbs and fruit. She enriches the soil with chicken manure from the farm as well as mushroom compost. Weeds are controlled by hand, with companion planting and crop rotation used. Tip from @DairyGoodness
Rockwall Farm, Googengerry
Nic and Monty are passionate about growing fresh nutritious ecological produce. They use organic seed, saved seeds and organic seedlings. They grow spray-free using permaculture principles.
Synchronicity Farm, Nana Glen
Josh and Tomoko Allen are passionate about growing, sourcing and supplying a diverse range of high quality seasonal food, produced organically, to the local market. They love heirloom vegetables, superfoods and unusual produce to surprise their customers who delight in trying new things.
Tobellie Hill Produce, Kindervale and Araluen Valley
Erin Cooper and Dan Mundy grow chemical-free vegetables and fruit and supply it fresh to local eaters.
Warrah Biodynamic Farm, Dural
Warrah is a registered not-for-profit organisation delivering disability services within a beautiful 30-acre rural site. The onsite biodynamic farm enhances the vitality of the soil and thus the plants and animals that feed from it.
Weemala Natural Farms, Wirrimah
Iani and family mostly grow open pollinated heirloom vegetable produce in their bio-intensive market garden.
Wynlen House, Braidwood
Bronwyn and Helen grow a wide variety of produce at their micro farm, focusing on a little of everything and a lot of a few things. The produce is picked and sold within 24 hours. They draw on a range of organic philosophies in their practice, including bio-dynamic, permaculture and biological.