Collingwood Children’s Farm Farmers’ Market - ONE SATURDAY morning (2nd Sat/mo) most months in Melbourne (Nov/Dec - Aug approx) folks can meet us and purchase our gorgeous, freshly picked produce at this VFMA accredited farmers' market between 8am and 1pm: Collingwood Children's Farm FM (2nd Sat).
PLEASE NOTE: We NO LONGER DO Hawthorn’s Boroondara FM OR Abbotsford’s Slow Food Melb FM.
Our major PRODUCE SUPPLY FOCUS is now our CSA.
Our seasonal produce stalls have typically run from mid November through to mid August, approximately, with a seasonally enforced hiatus (including a break and some well earned rest!!) over winter's end through to late spring (approx. Sept-mid November give or take, annual weather variables dependent).
We started with and continue with farmers' markets today because, even though we do need a larger property of our own a.s.a.p. (i.e. to replace our current 7 acre leased land) for 'wriggle room' and to diversify in some ways to better work within our local cool climate, we don't aspire to being a large farm or to selling wholesale. We know we want direct connection with our customers and community, to foster the whole and very important concept around "know your farmer, know your food" and the transparency, mutual respect, understanding and reward for hard work that can come with that relationship. Farmers' markets have worked for us we think primarily because of that face-to-face connection, the relationships built over time (with customers and other growers) and the opportunity to constantly share our passion for our craft, our 'how and why' we do it, as well as the 'fruits of our labour'. It enables a high standard of service and care factor, immediate feedback and responsiveness when you know people in person. It is incredibly lovely and encouraging receiving regular feedback from our customers about how much they enjoy our produce and hearing about what they've made with it.
Not all so-called "farmers' markets" are created equal...True, authentic farmers' markets, such as those accredited by the Victorian Farmers' Market Association (VFMA), ensure the benefits of farmers' markets genuinely flow both ways! They provide an opportunity for our farmers and specialty makers to sell direct and take full credit for their efforts and be fairly paid. By shopping at VFMA accredited farmers' markets, customers are guaranteed access to freshly harvested, in-season, top quality Victorian produce, whilst directly supporting local farmers, knowing for certain their money is going directly back in to regional Victorian communities. VFMA accreditation requires farmers' markets are run under strict guidelines and specific principles which dictate primarily local fresh food sold ONLY by the actual farmers, growers and makers of that produce NOT re-sellers. NO RE-SELLERS or false product representations (e.g. non-certified 'organic') are allowed. They promote ethical, mindful consumerism and meaningful engagement between urban and rural communities and support sustainable and regenerative food production. Customers get to know where their food truly comes from, how it is grown and by supporting family farms, in regional communities, therefore helping conserve our 'food bowls' for future generations.
Our VFMA accredited farmers' markets are PLASTIC BAG FREE ZONES, encouraging shoppers to recycle bags, minimise packaging, use re-usable fabric bags and trolleys. Please come prepared!
For WEEKLY updates on the markets and produce subscribe to the VFMA "Friends Newsletter": https://www.vfma.org.au/
"Eating is an agricultural act." Wendell Berry
10 TOP TIPS and Etiquette for SHOPPING at FARMERS' MARKETS
A bit of planning can keep your weekly produce shop at farmers' markets fun and make cooking a snap all week!
AND Please turn up WHATEVER THE WEATHER! The market and the hardworking farmers are there for you week in week out no matter what season or weather on the day. To remain viable, they need consistent support from regular customers weekly : )
Come Early - 'Early bird' shoppers score the best and freshest selection of produce all stalls have to offer on the day.
Bring your Own Bags (recycled paper, plastic & carry bags) and maybe a cooler bag. A push trolley is a good investment!
Embrace Whole vegetables - Thrifty in the kitchen and generous at the table, in most cases the entire vegetable can be used &/or eaten, root or bulb, stems and leaves, e.g. carrots leaves, beets leaves, fennel fronds and more
Talk to the farmers and stallholders- Don't be shy, take advantage of the opportunity to chat and learn about how your food is produced, ask about their farming story and practices, ask how to use more unusual items, recipe ideas, how to select the best produce for your needs and to learn what's in season and coming up. Farmers' market stallholders are more than happy to share with you and provide top service.
Bring small bills and change - Stallholders will have floats but it gets a bit tricky when they get hit by an endless string of $50 notes e.t.c.. Clean out your money boxes and change purses!
Make sure you have some understanding of what is in season and what can/can't be grown locally (in Vic) so you have the right expectations (not ginger in Vic for e.g. or zucchini outside of summer/early autumn!)
Bargaining is not really part of the picture! - Looking for quality and super fresh produce ethically grown, that the farmers are paid fairly for is the point. Certified organic produce &/or ethically raised rare breed meats from small farms cost what they cost to produce and their quality and uniqueness can not be compared to mass produced supermarket or conventional green grocer fayre. Fruit and vegetable prices are rarely dearer than supermarkets/grocers though and organic is often cheaper at FMs. If the farmers have a crop glut or weather damaged goods or some other practical reason for needing to shift produce quickly THEN you may get 'sales' and 'specials'.
Certified Organic Produce - Look for the stallholders' prominently displayed certification logo/signage/labeling to ensure genuine organic produce or ask for proof. Don't assume that all produce at farmers' markets is certified organic. If uncertain ask for verification and ask for details about what is meant by 'chemical-free' claims. VFMA stallholders are forbidden from making misleading claims.
Make a loop first - Give yourself the best chance to get the best on offer, everything you're looking for and maybe some unusual items to try, as well as comparing prices by doing a loop around the whole market first before making your purchases.
Try something new! One of the best parts of farmers' markets is sampling new or unusual produce items and foods, such as colourful heirloom tomatoes and carrots or fruit varieties, heritage breed meats, cheeses and more. These are usually grown small scale with maximum TLC by passionate family farmers and makers who do not supply supermarkets.