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To market, to market – the joy of meeting the people who grow your food

Amanda Whitley

Isn’t it funny how something as simple as a change of scenery can make all the difference to how you feel about a certain task – even the most mundane of chores can be transformed into a positive and sought-after experience if the surroundings are right.

Usually, for me, doing the weekly food shop ranks right up there with scrubbing the bathroom on the list of of things I really don’t look forward to. Particularly if it’s on a Sunday afternoon, when it seems like every person in the inner south decides to do their groceries at exactly the same time. But after a trip to the Northside Markets last Saturday, I actually can’t wait until tomorrow rolls around.


The relaxed market atmosphere.

The sister of the popular Southside Markets (held on Sunday mornings at CIT Woden), the Northside Markets are a little smaller, and so relaxed. They’re held on the grass area outside Zierholz Brewery at the University of Canberra in Bruce; and unlike sterile supermarket aisles, produce is sold from marquees by the growers themselves. It’s no secret that I get excited by my food, but it was just so stimulating to be able to taste the goods on sale and talk to the producers about them.


Super fresh produce.

One of the these producers is Gloria Cox from Leaning Oak Winery and Dairy in Mudgee – New South Wales’ only Sheep and Goat Dairy and Cheese Factory. All Leaning Oak’s cheeses are hand made using milk from their much loved goats and sheep, and they are amazing – I had to limit myself to buying just the Labneh and Garlic & Chive Goat. And it was while I was sampling Gloria’s wares that I ‘got’ why people become addicted to shopping at farmers’ markets – it’s not only the fresher than fresh produce and the ability to know where your food comes from, it’s the camaraderie.


Amazing cheeses from Leaning Oak.

“This honey goats cheese goes wonderfully with the focaccia sold by the lady just a couple of stalls up – you should pick some up on your way past,” she said. So I did. Along with some cookies, some jaffa cake and some baklava. I have no self control.

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More baked goodies.

But back to Gloria. She and her husband Alan travel from Mudgee to Canberra every Friday night, attend the Capital Region Farmers Markets on Saturday morning, the Northside Markets on Saturday afternoon, Southside on Sunday morning and then drive the five hours home after packing up…they then spend the week making more cheese, to do it all again. This is a labour of love.

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Apples and pears for $5 a bucket! Bargain!

And it’s the same story for many of the stallholders, who come from near and far. There’s a fantastic range of fresh fish and seafood directly from the South coast; organic beef from near Bungendore; olive oils, chickpeas and borlotti beans from Griffith; garlic from Moruya; eggs from Grenfell; mushrooms also from the South Coast; dairy from Picton; breads and bakery treats from Canberra bakers; chicken, duck and goat meat, and cheese from Boosey Creek and much more.


Check out the list of seafood available!

The Pentony family, the local food pioneers behind food outlet Choku Bai Jo also have a stall, selling fresh organic produce picked that morning from their property Gleann na Meala near Hall. You might find potatoes, root vegetables, salad greens, herbs, heirloom tomatoes…and more.


Amazing fresh herbs and vegetables.

I may got a little carried away. I came home bearing the aforementioned cheese and baked goods, two types of fresh fish, woodfired bread, apples, pears, an assortment of fresh vegetables, jam, mushrooms, and had to stop myself snaffling a gozleme and churros while I ‘worked’.

It was such a lovely atmosphere: the sun was shining, people slowly wandered around chatting to growers, live music played, and kids occupied themselves on the grass nearby. I may never set foot in a supermarket again.

the essentials

What: Northside Farmers Market and Southside Farmers Market
When: NS – 2.30-5.30pm every Saturday (2pm to 4:30pm in Autumn/Winter); SS – 8am-11:30am every Sunday
Where: NS – University of Canberra (Kirinari Street, in front of building 10); SS – CIT Southside Campus

This is a sponsored post.


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

  • Oh, I have never been to the Northside Farmers’ Market. We do our shop at EPIC very early on Saturday mornings… it starts the weekend out right for me! I love that the girls can see what food really looks like and both of them enjoy the people and colour of the markets. They deplore being in the supermarket (my theory is the lights bother their little eyes) and so the Market is a necessity! It also helps that EPIC is closer to our house than any supermarket is!

    I’ll definitely check out Northside Farmers’ Market next time I need a sleep in!!!

    Linda. xx

  • So happy that Leaning Oak have a market presence in Canberra. Purchased a pot of their honey goat cheese when visiting Orange last year and I was hooked. A perfect match with early autumn fruits like figs, pears and quince. Maybe a nice glass of Lerida Chardonnay…oh my, I think Saturday night is sorted! To market, indeed!

  • Great to learn that this new little market is coming along so nicely. Thanks Amanda!

  • Thanks Amanda. It’s great to have a critique. Not that it’s got anything to do with it, but being on the other side of 60, I loathe going to the large supermarkets now – all the noise and commercialism! Living on the north side I now do the essential groceries at the new Crace superbarn – maybe a little more expensive, I don’t care, it’s a far more pleasant experience of doing something that is necessary but on which I resent spending my precious time. But for some time I have been searching for something like a ‘farm gate’ to buy really fresh produce and so far no luck. I don’t get to the Epic markets as I rehearse in an orchestra all Sat morning until 12 and I work full time so I’m not going to get out of bed at 6am on Saturdays thank you! I had heard about the markets at UC but didn’t realise that they were fully established so I will look forward to trying them out next weeken after rehearsal. Thank you!