March 29, 2016

Reporter KATE MEIKLE heads for a Saturday morning of good food and great company at Richmond Park’s weekly Good Food Market…

Less than 20 minutes’ drive from Vermont is the picturesque and historic Richmond Park, that plays host to the weekly Good Food Market. For two years, Vanessa Hanna and her family have organised this farmers’ market, with an emphasis on quality local produce.

“We have always been foodies,” says Vanessa. “My parents and I used to go to farmers’ markets wherever we travelled but noticed a gap when we got home.”

“The Hawkesbury is the original food bowl of Sydney and the markets are a place to meet and support local producers,” she says.

From fruit and vegetables, Angus beef, apple cider, condiments to coffee – the markets have a relaxed, friendly vibe. With live music, the historic cricket oval as a backdrop and a playground just next door, everyone in the family will enjoy doing the weekly food shop!

First stop on the agenda for a Saturday morning is a great cup of coffee. Ali Hainey, of the Little Blue Bean Coffee Co., has 17 years’ experience in coffee and the hospitality industry. She says she always came back to coffee and is loving being out on her own for the past two years, creating great coffee out of a cute vintage-style blue caravan at several Sydney markets throughout the week. Ali’s latest creation is cold brew – which she describes as coffee brewed with cold water which is more easily absorbed and has 40 per cent more caffeine! She has paired the cold brew with coconut water, which Ali says is more hydrating, improves circulation and blood flow to the muscles and a perfect pre-workout drink.

Gina Porteous runs Bilpin Bush Honey, locally-sourced raw, natural honey from the Blue Mountains. Her specialty is jarring the honey with vanilla beans or walnuts to infuse the flavours. Also at the stall is pure beeswax candles – natural, dripless candles that carry a smell and essence of honey.

Jaggard’s Dressings by Michael and Heidi Jaggard, owners of Apple Bar restaurant at Bilpin, have launched a range of dressings, oils and soft caramel sauce.

“It’s hard to get good dressings from supermarkets. People come to us as they are looking for dressings with local, handmade ingredients,” says Heidi.

Actor, Zoe Naylor, who is pictured on this edition’s cover, runs the organic bread stall and says she gets up at 4am to travel to Botany to pick up loaves and croissants from supplier, Brasserie Bread.

Zoe has graced our small and cinema screens for the past decade and is best known for her role as Regan McLeod in the much-loved TV series ‘McLeod’s Daughters’. Also an accomplished MC, writer, voice-over artist and producer, six months ago Zoe started her blog, Kaftan Mama, which she is currently creating as a TV series.

“I see the stall as a great way for me to share my journey of wellness, and the gateway of that is food!” she says.

Zoe says that she wants to promote a way of living that inspires wellness and a holistic vitality, having experienced her own personal challenges with addiction.

“There is a lot of talk about wellness and a lot of superfoods and green smoothies around,” says Zoe. “But there’s not enough emphasis on healing and Kaftan Mama addresses all these aspects,” she says.

Zoe will soon be launching her own range of cacao balls at the stall that are sugar, dairy and gluten-free.

Zoe says that the markets are an inspiring venture for the Hawkesbury. “You can do your grocery shop here for two thirds of the price,” she says, “This used to be a sleepy town but since the markets have started here we have become more connected with passionate, energetic people. The locals are appreciating it and travelling to come here,” she says.   

Mick West from Bilpin Hobby Farms runs the fresh fruit and vegetable stall. He says the produce was picked only yesterday from various local farms around Bilpin and Richmond.

“A lot of people come back every week for more! They can tell the difference in the quality,” he says.

The award-winning Hillbilly Cider is based on an orchard in Bilpin. Using traditional techniques and 100 per cent local apples or pears, the cider recently won the highest scoring Australian cider in the International Cider Challenge in the UK, says Tessa McLaughlin.

Her husband Shane is an experienced cider maker and they launched the brand four years ago, supplying pubs, restaurants, independent bottle shops and selling at the markets.

By 11.30am, father and son, Alistair and Angus McLaren of Paddock to Plate meats have almost run out of their popular local grass-fed beef.

“We are small enough for us to produce good food and keep a track on quality,” says Alistair.

“Our end game is producing your dinner. We think of that at every step. We have had an incredible response as people become more concerned about their health and how food is produced,” he says.

Paddock to Plate’s top seller is its mincemeat, which Alistair says is super lean and perfect in pasta and tacos. With a “nose-to-tail” philosophy, Alistair says that their customers come to them to get certain cuts of meat that other butchers can’t help them with.

Angus says that he is also excited to be introducing chickens into the pasture and they will soon be offering fresh eggs, too.

With my arms loaded with fresh produce, and a refreshing, non-alcoholic cider, Vanessa reminds me that for those who can’t get to the markets every week, she runs a weekly delivery service to Vermont every Wednesday of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, with a little something extra from the market every week. Life certainly is good!

Richmond Good Food Market, visit
richmondmarket.com.au for more information.
The market is held every Saturday, 8am-1pm at Richmond Park, corner of March Street and Windsor Street, Richmond.
To book a home delivery visit the Richmond Good Food Market deliveries page on Facebook.

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