Saturday, 1 November 2008

E is for EPIC: the Growers' Market

This is another alphabet gimme. I was thinking of actually going somewhere new, like Evatt, but this morning was so lovely that I just had to write about it.

EPIC is "Exhibition Park in Canberra", because "Showground" is like, so old fashioned and doesn't have enough syllables. It's a large complex, located across from the racecourse, on the corner of Northbourne Avenue and Flemington Road. However, the important foodie part is the Capital Region Farmers' Market, held weekly on Saturday mornings. The official hours are 8am to 11am; I mostly go about 9am.

The market is not accessed through the main gate. If you're driving, continue north up Northbourne, and turn left at the petrol station. You can't miss it: apart from the petrol station, there's also a traffic light, and Stirling Avenue going off to the right. Market parking is straight ahead; other exhibitions such as dog shows and car fairs are nearby.

Today's visit was my first in many months, and there have been a few changes. Most notably, while I was away there was a small scandal. It turned out that some dealers had been buying up fruit & veg from the Flemington wholesale markets in Sydney, and trucking them up to sell at premium prices in Canberra. The market organisers have now started a policy of inspections, and the liars have been turfed out. Well done! I was especially pleased to see that none of my favourites were caught in the net. And a couple of large stalls that I was always a bit sus about have vanished. (Ha ha, insert snarky "I was right" noises here.)

Anyway, this market is a delight. It's lovely to browse around - there's a lot more than just fruit and veg. You'll find bread, cakes, lots of meats, chocolates, garden supplies, nuts, tea, coffee, preserves, dips, fish, oysters, dried fruits, olives and much more. It's not a craft market, though there is the occasional sideline like soap and handcream. And you can trust that you're buying reasonably locally, either from the producer themselves, or a direct agent of the producer. There's a list of stallholders here, though they're not all there all the time.

This morning's haul is a fair example - each point is a purchase from one stall
* chilli peanuts, maple pecans and caramel macadamias
* sourdough rolls
* seedlings: three tomato and one zucchini
* lettuce, salad mix, spring onions, sorrel, coriander and watercress
* sweet corn and silverbeet
* rhubarb and broccoli
* sugarsnap peas, green beans and "Ming's Mum's Satay Sauce"
* apples (from the cold store, of course, but good ones!)
* strawberries
* tomatoes and asparagus
* mushrooms
* saltbush lamb sausages and lamb rump steaks
* lavender soap
* plain gnocchi
* cherries

Yes, cherries! The first of the season. Yay!


Roving Lemon said...

Thanks for this--just found your blog...I am a newcomer to Canberra and have been looking for information on farmers' markets. After reading this description, I may have to get to work on buying a car so I can check this out for myself! Now going to find the rest of the alphabetical entries....

Zoe said...

It's on a bus route, roving lemon, although you might need to hold back on the ten bags full of goodies!

Cath said...

Hi Roving Lemon - I hope you're finding it useful!

If you are after farmer's market produce don't forget Choku Bai Jo in North Lyneham. And if you live down south, there's a version in Woden that I've not made it to yet. And Kingston bus depot markets has a small food section with a few local growers, too.

Canberra without a car - that's very difficult! One car and some bicycles or motorbikes is do-able, but I'd hate to be without a car altogether in this town. Taxis & public transport suck here.