Owns 'FoodLit'. Highly qualified, established food & lifestyle writer, former restaurateur, founder professional writing business, Articul8. Long, diverse writing history, passion for food culture, the land & inspired food language.www.foodlit.com.au
Published June 29th 2012
Love your local Farmers' Market? Well, Farmers' Market shopping just took a delightful and convenient turn for the better with the introduction of Farmhouse Direct. It's an exciting, new online initiative allowing us access to local, farm-fresh food and products, regional delicacies and cottage-industry items.
This article's a long one folks - a bit like a long, slow degustation with lots of delectable tastes. You might like to make a cuppa to accompany it, pour a glass of (good) wine if the time is right, or, if pushed for time, maybe Bookmark it for later when you have time to savour it - but make sure you do come back, and make sure it's with an appetite - Joules.)
Perfect for those in-between-market times, Farmhouse Direct is an initiative developed by Australia Post to support local farmers in partnership with the Victorian Farmers' Market Association.
Accessing what is essentially a massive Farmers' Market online is a win-win situation all round. It means we can have premium products conveniently delivered to our door anywhere in Australia (subject to perishability, quarantine laws, etc). It gives us online 24/7 access to the freshest produce available (unless you grow it yourself, buy at real-world Farmers' Markets, farmgates, food co-ops, etc). Of course, gleaning is another clever way to access just-picked produce - and it's free.
Using the service also means we're directly supporting our own Aussie farmers and producers, rather than overseas growers, middlemen and large supermarket chains. It promotes sustainability and goes a very long way towards helping our folks continue to do the great jobs they're doing. It's not designed to replace visiting our local farmers' market, which offers a different variety and, of course, clean, fresh air and a vivacious atmosphere amongst environmentally aware people.
As someone who'll travel half-way across the state in search of a particular food product, I'm pretty excited about Farmhouse Direct. It will save me lots of running around. It won't, however, stop me going to a Farmers' Market every weekend. I have too much fun; saying g'day to my favourite stallholders and sharing a chat or story amidst bright, vibrant produce is a lovely, lively way to start my weekend.
Farmhouse Direct will, however, allow us to:
1) Buy in between farmers' markets and, given most run monthly, are a great way to fill the gaps.
2) Buy a range of products from around the country, some of which won't be available at your local market. 3) Buy online when you can't get to your local market in person.
4) Access farmers' market produce if you don't have a market nearby and, most importantly,
5) Eat healthier, better and more seasonally.
So, what yummy things can you buy? Well, how about this lot for starters: preserves, Australian garlic, pumpkins, potatoes, tea, muesli, cheese, olive oil, wine, bread, honey, chocolate, coffee, nougat, butter, nuts, quality pet foods and treats, and more.
Here are some of my favourite producers:
Go Just Nuts - and why not! Life is so serious these days. Passionate pistachio growers Eric and Kerryn have developed a special drying process that results in crunchy, almost-sweet and super-fresh tasting pistachios their buyers go just nuts for.
Arthurs Creek Garlic – artisan, Aussie garlic. It's fresh, aromatic, intense and flavourful – ideal for both eating and planting – unlike the cheap, odourless, tasteless Chinese garlic too many people are still using. This unpleasant stuff is fumigated, bleached to an unnatural white, and, as garlic grower Beth explains, sometimes exposed to bromide bombs. Bromide is banned in Australia.
Peninsula Fudge, on Victoria's beautiful Mornington Peninsula, produces fresh fudge, soft nougat, and a rich chocolate fudge sauce that's sheer joy to the tastebuds. Many of the products contain local seasonal fruits and juices, the delectable end result testament to the fact that only the highest-quality ingredients are used.
Krowera Hills Olive Grove is owned and operated by passionate, and knowledgeable growers who nurture their trees, fruit and highly-awarded, golden extra virgin olive oil to perfection. They're also keepers of some authentic Italian recipes that are pure gold.
Austins Wines - With 90 acres of Pinot Noir at Sutherlands Creek in the Moorabool Valley northwest of Geelong, this multi award-winning vineyard and winery also produces delightful drops of Riesling, Chardonnay and Shiraz.
Bluestone Acres - This small, family-owned and operated vineyard in the Yarra Valley produces high quality Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Shiraz wine grapes. They're then lovingly and expertly processed into top quality wines which express the individual characteristics of the vineyard in what is a world-renowned wine-growing region.
BM Pet Animals - So far, it's been all about us humans! Pets can also lap up the flavour and nutrition benefits of Farmhouse Direct, and of having
Food & Snax for Your Pooch Too
their 'parents' shop at Farmers' Markets. Maree and John produce a fine range of BM Pet Snax, tasty, healthy dog and cat treats which are chemical, preservative, salt and sugar free - and they're made from locally-sourced, farm-fresh produce. Judging by the amount of salivating, panting and tail-wagging they induce, they're delicious too. Bow wow.
Camilo Olives produces some delicious gourmet delights from their premium quality olives, including their award-winning Extra Virgin Olive Oils, Olive Oil Infusions, Olive Salt range, Jam, Relish and Tapanades. Wrap your lips around them. They're delish.
Harris Organic Wines - What better way to complement excellent food than with some top class wines. Harris Organic Wines, the only certified organic winery in the Swan Valley in Western Australia, grow and make a wide range of full-bodied and flavoursome wines using sustainable and ethical methods.
Cocoa Rhapsody - Handcrafted using certified organic and local produce, this Fair Trade chocolate will well induce a state of rhapsody. Floyd goes to great lengths to source the best ingredients and the results will delight the most discerning chocolate lover.
Eureka Coffee - You know you've hit the jackpot from the first sip - and I can't wait for my mid-morning Eureka flavour hit at my local markets. Eureka Coffee is a small, multi award-winning micro roaster specialising in Australian grown coffee, other specialty coffees, and teas from around the world, including Fairtrade and direct trade.
Frank, Food and Me celebrates Australian food heritage, through heirloom produce varieties and delectable cake and sweets recipes, using produce from sustainable practice farmers. With the highly talented Kath Clarke as its founding mother, it is the culmination of Frank (her late grandfather), her food experience and insight, and the people who have shared their culture, recipes and lives with them. The website is a must-see – and the Australian Christmas Pudding a must-have.
Green Olive at Red Hill - These folks speak my food language. They're into great food and related products that nurture heart and soul, from hampers, jams and chutneys, wine, olive oil and body products to books, cordials and cooking courses.
You might have gathered by now that buying through Farmhouse Direct means you can rest safely in the knowledge that you're buying from caring, passionate folk committed to quality and healthy, sustainable practices. You can see who and where they are - and you probably even chat with some of them at your local farmers' markets. This is very different to Aussie Farmers Direct, where the actual source of the food and the journey it has traversed is not made openly apparent, making you (or me at least) wonder where it came from and what might have been done to it.
So, here are a few more of my favourite folks who help make sure that the food at our place is the best it can be:
Hope Farm Bakery is the source of my morning toast - and I do love my morning toast, especially when slathered with my own home-made fig jam. A family-owned, organic sourdough bakery, Hope Farm Bakery specialies in genuine, European-style breads using the finest organic and bio-organic stone-ground flours.
Gunbower Creek Olives and Olive Products - This trusted boutique manufacturer produces the beautiful Olieve (for her) and Olie (for him) range of skin care products using all natural ingredients, many of which are sourced locally. Try a soap-making class for a cleansing and totally uplifting experience.
Larder Fresh - Get ready to lick your lips. Monique and the team produce three preservative-free, signature products sourced from locally ingredients: seriously tasty falafels, satisfying roast pumpkin and chickpea burgers, and mouth-watering, real nougat that I buy for my mother. Believe me, that's saying something.
Walk This Whey
Locheilan Cheese - Bruce and Sue grow the grass that feeds the cows that give the milk that becomes the cheese. The delectable soft, hard and blue farmhouse cheeses are made following traditional philosophy and methods, with cheeses ripened and sold in their natural rinds for maximum flavour.
Murray Estate Wines - This small vineyard and winery, 7kms from Mulwala overlooking the Murray River, was named not for the obvious, but in honour of John's mum's family name. Together with wife Sue, John produces Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Riesling and Brut Reserve, along with less common varietals including Suz Blend, Vino Dolce and Durif. Quick, pass me a glass.
The Butter Factory - I'll be buttered on both sides! If you don't know the saying, it means Wow or I'm Blown Away. And you will be too by this highly awarded and applauded Myrtleford cultured butter. Anyone got a baguette handy?
Strathbogie Ranges Estate - This gently sloping, pristine estate with views to Mt Buller is home to the olive grove that's home to 4,000 trees that produce single-varietal, premium Australian extra virgin olive oil. A mob of fine merino sheep, a Blackwood forest, chestnut trees, a small vineyard of Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, and birdlife including a pair of wedge-tailed eagles also call it home.
- Developed by Fiona, or Fi to her friends, The Spice Shelf evolved from her many years of making fresh, and very well-received curries for family and friends. She now shares her love of fine cuisine with us, The Spice Shelf bringing us aromatic, hand-made curry blends that are easy to make, contain lots of health benefits and are guaranteed to impress.
Waggle Dance Honey Company - Just the sound of this makes me want to put on my finest, wiggle my waggle, and do the clever honey bee's waggle dance. Waggle Dance Honey is exciting, new and quite revolutionary. Hand-harvesting from unique flora in the forests and ranges of the Great Southern of WA, an holistic approach to bee care, and processing according to organic standards results in a very sweet experience indeed.
yumm dressings - It's in the name, it's in the bottle, it's how I feel after enhancing my food with these delectables. yumm dressings make and market an exciting range of award-winning, fresh, natural dressings, drizzles and marinades that make meal-times easy and deliciously gourmet.
With more than 50 producers making their wholesome and, yummy products available through Farmhouse Direct, the above is really just a sampler. There are many more products to explore, enjoy and feast upon.
A final, fresh-food note: When the supermarkets claim they offer the freshest produce available, please know it's a load of baloney. Farmers' Market produce, given it's just picked or made, is the freshest you can get (aside form the other sources mentioned above). So, when the supermarket giants engage in a 'fresh-war', there
can be no winners. They aren't even in the running.
Sounds liked a good idea, but buying food in Victoris when you live in Quuensland or WA is not. The best way to purchase all your food, if possible, is to support local farmers. If the food doesn't have to travel far to get to you, then you are also being environmentally responsible. Australia Post trucks use up a lot of fuel!
It's far better to go to your local Farmers Market to select your produce. We go to Midland Farmers Market every 2nd Sunday and stock up on FRESH fruit & vegies
You only understand how old Woolies and Coles (supposedly) fresh stuff is, when you buy from a Farmers Market!
The fruit and vegies in Woolies and Coles is around 10 days old before you get it - because it has to go from farm to a Woolies or Coles major distribution centre, before its re-shipped out to your local shopping centre!
Then Woolies or Coles will ship fruit or vegies across the country, anywhere from 3000kms to 5000kms, just because they can make more profit by doing so!!
Fruit & vegies purchased fresh locally will last twice as long as Woolies or Coles fruit & vegies, and have more vitamin content!
What a great article and what a great initiative to have a 24 hour farmers market which brings the best of the best together.
And don't forget that your pets deserve the same consideration - Farm fresh ingredients, chemical, preservative, artificial flavours & colouring, salt & sugar is what we offer so check ouit our offering of products - Maree, BM Pet Snax
great, but who wants to pay $14 postage for a $6 loaf of bread. Just another gimmick from a former great Australian company that once offered real services to people but now is floundering to do anything meaningful other than deliver the mail.