I'm keen to share things that I've done with others - I love learning about culture and history, I know the importance of great service, good quality products and positive experiences. I love to experience life's opportunities. I live in Melbourne.
Published September 23rd 2014
It's worth a short Sunday drive to this lovely market
On this Sunday morning, I'm out for a drive just a few minutes north of Doncaster and I arrive at Eltham - a lovely, semi-rural suburb in bushland setting. A big yellow banner invites me towards Alistair Knox Park where, under their historic trestle railway bridge, I find the Eltham Community Craft and Produce Market.
I easily find a car park under the bridge and there's more surrounding the sports oval. A short walk brings me to the market entrance. The first stalls are coffee and eatables. As I wander, I notice a distinct sense of sustainable living and environmental awareness here. Several vendors have items of only Australian produce - and some have used their ingenuity to alter traditional recipes or approaches to do this.
At Steffens, the Pesto contains Australian grown nuts (macadamia, I think) instead of the traditional pine nuts which would need to be imported. The pesto is bright green too - which shows its freshness, made just last evening - and its large proportion of actual basil, not a filler or supplement. There's Koala Honey and David Strutt's cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, then natural Peanut Butter.
If you chat to these vendors long enough you'll understand this is more than just a place to buy things – several traders are in this for the long haul. Giovanna Sica, for example, has been making her Handmade Biscotti for over 20 years.
She first made them for family, then branched out to a few friends and functions, then once word spread her Biscotti were the talk of the town – and I'm not surprised. Move ahead a couple of decades and she's here with her daughter, her range of fine sweet treats spread in front of her – still hand-made – Almond/Anise; Cranberry/Pistachio; Decadent Cacao Walnut and there's seasonal flavours too – Lemon Pine Nut (Spring); Fruity Christmas (Summer); Cranberry Ginger (Autumn) and Rosemary, Sultanas & Black Pepper (just the thing for a Winter's treat). She's now working on a range of gluten-free biscotti, they're coming soon.
There's fresh bread, coffees, baked goods and fresh fruit and vegetables – I see fresh strawberries today too. We have Filipino Rolls, Harry Hoo's Dim Sims, Wyn's Cakes and Turkish Gozleme.
As for the crafts on show – these are diverse.
At several stalls, the "chemical-free" products take my eye.
One of the Three Mammas with the natural deodorant
The Three Mamas have created a natural deodorant – they boast "it really works!" All ingredients are produced in Australia, natural and suitable for sensitive skin. They say even "smelly Tradies and teenagers" will be whiff-free with this. It is fragrant - slightly coconut, due to its major ingredient of coconut oil, but they assure me it won't stain my clothes.
Josie Felton's range of natural products includes Toothpaste - fascinating! She makes her version of Natural Deodorant in three fragrances – coconut again, plus lemon or lavender. Of course, the products aren't brightly packaged as ones in a supermarket would be – but that's part of the appeal – and there's no paying for all that extra packaging.
J and G have been making and selling wooden toys for years. I'm not sure which is J and which is G, but of the couple, "he" creates the toys and they attend the market stall together to sell them. "She" makes sure to point out to me that "we only do this for a hobby, it's not a business" … their creations are bright, smooth (friendly for little fingers) and just urge you to touch them and try them out. They're delightful.
Dame Tess has beautiful handmade toys too – some of hers are knitted.
At Leadlight by Vas, Vas Weisner and his wife have a similar approach – they have been lead lighting for decades, "but it's only a hobby, not our business" and what they create is for sale here (at very reasonable prices). There's Australiana, which is particularly nice, along with other mainstream shapes. Vas just keeps on making them and as a bonus they sell some at the markets.
Amy and Jim are at Delightful Dexter – well, Dexter's the dog actually, so he isn't at the stall today – but on here offer are Amy's wonderful, quirky, handmade pots and ceramics, all brightly painted. She adds her trademark "bumble-bee" on some items and those that need handles, such as the butter dish – receive her trademark "caterpillar" handle. These are truly items made with a personal touch, very nice.
At Chrisalis, Christine Witton makes jewellery – but the difference with hers is that these are unique pieces. When she creates her material, she develops just one "batch" – so that means the pieces she fashions from it will create a set, but one which can never be replicated. It's a great selling point for customers wanting something no-one else will have. Christine's colour blends and designs are very nice. She offers necklaces, earrings and bangles, with some brooches.
Rusty Sculptures are just that – and these are such feats of mastery and fun all rolled into one. Russ Brebner creates his wonderful art pieces from scrap he collects everywhere – wait till you see these … an ex-toaster that's now a pig, a bathtub emu, a chain crocodile ... they're truly marvellous.
A farmyard fowl by Rusty Sculptures
Jillian Macqueen makes Art2wear – an aptly named business. Jillian creates her art first – such lovely drawings, which she then reproduces onto various materials and fashions them into jewellery pieces. Sometimes her entire artwork is used; other pieces have only an element – but her work is lovely.
Jennie Culic's Hysteric Fairy Fine Art is just that – and it's made of glass! That's just superb – bright colours, floral and graphic images are all styled into beautiful glass pieces – exquisite work.
It's lovely to chat to Diana Casey – her watercolour paintings reflect her experiences. She proudly displays her range of works from a visit to India last year. Her painting of Taj Mahal with the women wearing saris in rainbow colours is beautiful. She excitedly tells of her experiences in India – as a fellow traveller, I immediately relate to her stories.
Other stalls offer art supplies, play doh for children, red gum clocks, timber furniture and chopping boards, childrens' wear, cotton embroidered nightwear, crystals and carefully created bright knitwear.
The non-profit market is run by a committee of volunteers who donate their time gratis to do it. The objective is to support the local community and over the last 7 years almost $80,000 has been donated to local organisations such as schools, community care centres and health care groups.
There's no entrance fee and the market is on basically flat ground, so you will have no accessibility or mobility issues here. Its area is not extensive either and you can browse one side of the market and return along the other side without missing anything.
From February to October the market runs on every third Sunday and during the lead-up to Christmas in November and December it runs on the first and third Sundays. It is open from 8.30am - 12.30pm.