Michellina van Loder is a freelance writer living on the Surf Coast of Victoria, Australia. She’s passionate about wildlife, native bonsais, reading and writing. You can visit her LinkedIn page here: www.linkedin.com/pub/michellina-van-loder/4
Do you prefer to buy organic? If you love your delicious in-season organic vegetables, then pack up the children—or the fur ones (the dogs!)—into the car, gather together some healthy snacks, grab a picnic basket and take a spin down towards Ballarat, stopping in to visit Spring Creek Organic Farm. Here, you'll find their—recently opened—farmgate shop. From conception to fruition, this produce has been nurtured with the natural, certified biodynamic methods required to grow the juiciest, tastiest, nutrient dense fruit and vegetables possible.
Spring Creek Farm is an eighty-minute (115 km) drive from Melbourne, or seventy minutes (82 km) from Geelong City Centre. Take a scenic drive through the countryside, along roads lined with magnificent old gum trees. Cruise past quaint country pubs and bakeries, or stop for a bite along the way. Think warm coffees, homemade pies and pastry treats. A great place to pull up for a meal is The Mill Cottage restaurant and café, 96 Ingils Street, Ballan. A family run business, in a one hundred and fifty year old cottage, it has a fresh seasonal menu, complimented by fine wines. When your done, travel along the Navigators Dunnstown Road, over the old bluestone bridge and past green hills of undulating countryside. Turn off at Kielys Road, to Navigators. Their farmgate shop can't be missed; look out for the sign.
Here, you can purchase farm fresh, direct from dedicated and ethical growers, Lisa and David Tatman, who produce Australian Certified Organic (ACO), vegetables: pumpkins, squash, spaghetti squash, silverbeet, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and parsley, buk choy (which is baby bok choy), celeriac, dill, celery, turnips, swedes, brussels sprouts, heirloom varieties of carrots (white, yellow and purple), and beetroots (pink, orange and red) and much more—many are grown from heirloom seed (and that's just winter's bounty!) If you are quick, you can still get your hands on some of their scrumptious spaghetti squash.
Spaghetti squash is a vegetable that's related to the zucchini family; its stringy spaghetti-like flesh is yellow, yummy and yielding of the perfect gluten free, paleo friendly vegetable spaghetti noodles: a lovely accompaniment to simmer along with your favourite pasta sauce (or click here for 'Easy Peasy Organic's' Spaghetti (Squash) with Quinoa Tomato Sauce recipe).
Usually, spaghetti squash is ready to be picked around April to May, depending on the weather. They love the warmer days so until the first frost comes, they will be growing, beautifully swelling in size; and they sure can get huge! The average spaghetti squash weighs in at around 3 kilograms but some can be six, while the smaller ones are under, or around one kilogram (The perfect size to make a meal for two—and with left overs.).
An easy way to cook spaghetti squash is just wash it (giving it a good scrub), cut it in half, then boil or steam in a pot filled with five centimetres of water: bring to the boil, leaving the lid on, cook for a further 25 minutes. Allow to cool, scrape out the seedy flesh: be ready for warm-yummy-vegetable-pasta strings!
Squash is also perfect for those who are on a low-carb, low-fat diet. It's vegan friendly and can be roasted (with garlic), or thrown into nourishing soups (try a paleo friendly chicken noodle soup).
Paleo Australia have some great recipes for this remarkable vegetable, also.
ACO Certified Organic Pumpkins During June, July—August you can also select from a variety of pumpkins, including the Japanese black jewel, aurijiman Japanese squash, Kirijiman variety, or Kakai, old greys and the ornamentals.
Spring harvest is coming up: David and Lisa will have started planting already: we can look forward to tasty, fresh salad mix, lettuces, coriander, spinach, radishes and more.
If you can't make the trip, alternatively, you can visit their market stalls, situated around Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat, to buy the freshest, tastiest, in season vegetables:
Market Stall Places and Times 1st Saturday of the Month:
Golden Plains Farmers' Market, Bannockburn.
Daylesford Farmers' Market
Ballarat Bridge Mall Farmers' Market
Woodend Farmers' Market
1st Sunday of the Month:
Castlemaine Farmers' Market
2nd Saturday of the Month:
Ballarat Lakeside Farmers' Market Bendigo Farmers' Market, Rosalind Park (Click here to join their mailing list for more information about Bendigo Community Farmers' Markets in general.)
Kyneton Farmers' Market
4th Sunday of the Month: Mt Alexander Secondary College, Farmers' Market
Please note: due to unseen circumstances, like the weather, these dates are subject to change so please check Spring Creek Organics Facebook page for updates on where and when they will be appearing at the farmers' markets; or email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org Or, alternatively, phone 03 53347838
Tuckerberry Hill, Blueberry Farm and Cafe Tuckerberry Hill, Blueberry Farm and Cafe at Drysdale, on the Bellarine Peninsula stock Spring Creek Organics and are available to take weekly orders, which they are willing to pick up from the market for customers.
Victorian Farmers Markets Association
Click here for more information on markets, including Spring Creek Farm (and more), from the Victorian Farmers Markets Association
Or here for Melbourne Show Grounds Farmers' Markets
Why Buying Local is Important
Buying local is important because for a healthy, fair and delicious food supply we need to support our farmers and our environment. This can be beneficial to everyone but especially for that of your health and that of your families. For another six reasons on why you should buy local, visit the Local Harvest website.
Smart Living Ballarat
You can find more information about buying local, caring for your environment, saving energy and ideas on using water wisely at Smart Living Ballarat, a website that helps people locate where to buy local, shares ideas and promotes great ideas on caring for our precious environment.
But does it have to be organic?
Buying organic is not always possible but it is important to buy fresh and local; and if it's organic too then that's a bonus. The difference between food that's certified organic and food that's organic are the standards by which it's grown by. Only by searching for certified organic products can you be sure of the organic authenticity and integrity.
Note: There have been cases where disingenuous product marketers have used the ACO logo. Often, legal action is taken in cases like these. What this means for consumers like us, is, if you have doubts or would like to double check a product's certification, the ACO website have a search function where consumers can search for products, manufacturers or growers, like Spring Creek Organics (who are definitely certified organic).