Kerry has been writing radio copy for donkey's years, & also dabbles in short stories & travel writing. She works, plays and explores largely in the CDB and inner suburbs, gets everywhere by public transport and is the self-professed Zone One Queen.
Published February 3rd 2015
Top up your Myki and grab your eco-bags
Think not that farmers' markets exist only in rural locales or suburban outskirts. There are of course many fine and picturesque markets that are best reached by car—all the better for carrying your produce booty home. This piece is not about those, but is instead a guide to my favourites amongst the weekend markets that can be accessed by public transport.
Most of the inner city farmers' market take place once a month, but by checking these VIC Farmers Markets and Melbourne Farmers Markets websites, you'll find one happening every weekend. If you like to shop weekly or fortnightly, you can enjoy spreading your visits across a variety of locations.
So kit yourself out with a 'shopping jeep' and a topped-up Myki card, flex your biceps (in order to lift full trolley onto the tram), put on those comfy walking shoes and off we go. Having a GPS device or Google maps is also very useful, when locating a market site for the first time.
Let's go south of the river first.
Veg Out Market, St Kilda When: The 1st Saturday of each month, 8:30am to 1pm. Where: Peanut Farm Reserve, beside the Veg Out Community Gardens in Chaucer St.
By public transport: Take the 96 or 112 tram and disembark by Luna Park. To reach Chaucer St, walk across O'Connell Gardens or down Shakespeare Grove off Acland St.
Bonus features: The location in the hub of St Kilda's attractions. You have the beach in one direction, Luna Park in the other, the vibrant Acland St nearby, and the relaxing Veg Out Gardens to wander through. Plenty to do afterwards – if you're not too loaded down with produce. The market site also has tree cover for summer shade.
Gasworks Market When: The 3rd Saturday of each month, 8am to 1pm. Where: 21 Graham Street, Albert Park, where the suburb meets Port Melbourne.
By public transport: Take tram number 1 from the city and get off at stop 31 - it's 5 minutes walk along Graham St. This street also intersects with Port Melbourne's 109 tram line at the other end, but is a much longer walk from that direction.
Bonus features: The Gasworks Art Precinct is sheltered within the historic brick walls of the old gas production plant, and now housing studios, galleries, theatres and cafes. The market has the relaxed and enclosed feeling of a 'village green', with stalls placed around the edge. There are a number of eucalypts to escape under on a hot day, to prevent one's real fruit juice popsicle from melting too fast.
Collingwood Farmers' Market When: The second Saturday of each month, from 8am to 1pm. Where: Collingwood Children's Farm, at the end of St Heliers Street, Abbotsford. This very busy and popular market takes place in a long field, with stalls sited around the edge. Surrounded by trees, with barely any buildings in sight, it has a marvellously rural feel. There are hay bales to sit on and a few small seating areas here and there, but not many places to sit apart from the ground, if you plan to eat while there. Take a picnic rug if you're taking the family.
By public transport: Take the South Morang train line and alight at Victoria Park, turning left out of the station onto Johnson Street. Walk along for approximately 10 – 15 minutes, crossing Hoddle Street on the way. Look for the overhead foot bridge – Clarke Street is near here on the right as you approach. Turn up Clarke St then left onto St Heliers Street and walk to the end. The Farm will be sign-posted. Hordes of people will be heading in and out of the gate so you can't miss it. Once inside, having paid your gold coin donation, follow the stream of people heading past the café, barnyard and chook runs.
Bonus features: Occasionally a kids' entertainer playing songs around the hay bales. The refurbished outdoor café at the farm entrance. The Collingwood Children's Farm itself of course, with unusual chooks such as the pom-pom headed Silkie Chicken, peacocks, goats, horses, cows and more for the kids to oggle. The Yarra River also runs below the farm, if you feel like a riverside stroll. And the Abbotsford Convent is nearby.
Slow Food Market When: The 4th Saturday of each month, from 8am to 1pm, with $2 entry. Where: Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers St.
By public transport: Follow the same directions above, as the convent is neighbour to the Collingwood Children's Farm.
Bonus features: Abbotsford Convent is a great place to hang around. It has art studios and nice green gardens to wander around or find a picnic spot to enjoy your market foods. The convent also hosts The Convent Bakery where you can enjoy a glass of wine at the plentiful outdoor tables, and the renowned Lentil As Anything vegetarian eatery, where you pay by donation. And you can enjoy the proximity to the Collingwood Children's Farm and the Yarra River. Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome at this market.
Further north of here is a market you can attend every weekend:
The Ceres Organic Market (smaller than other Farmers Markets, offering fruit and veg only) When: The market's website now states it is open daily, 9am – 4pm weekdays, 9am – 2pm weekends. Saturday is a good day to go. Where: Ceres Environmental Park, corner Roberts and Stewart Streets, Brunswick East.
By public transport: Take the iconic number 96 tram to its very last stop in Brunswick East: the intersection of Nicholson St, Blythe Street and Arthurton St (right next to the 3RRR radio station building). Walk a little way down Arthurton to Roberts St on your left. Turn up Roberts, and at the bend of this L-shaped street, you'll find the gates for Ceres Environment Park, with the market just beyond the carpark and nursery buildings.
Bonus features: While only paper bags are available, shoppers get to use the delightful array of large wicker baskets to carry their purchases to the counter. Saturday is the big day, with often a musician or three playing away in the café area – a counter that does coffees and the best apple strudel.
Besides the rustic market surroundings and the small wholefood store on site, there's Ceres itself, with gardening allotments to wander through, the Ceres café down the hill, the nursery, and sustainable gardening practices to study.
Starting to skew west - another weekly market:
Flemington Market When: Every Sunday from 9am to 1pm. Where: In the grounds of Mt Alexander Secondary College, 169-175 Mt Alexander Rd.
By public transport: From Elizabeth Street in the city, catch tram 59 and get off at stop 25, right by the college.
Bonus features: This is a small market within school grounds. It's easy to cover each stall without feeling you've missed something vital. The weekly occurrence is also a plus. You can get to know the vendors and their produce on a more regular basis. No having to wait a month for this one to come around again.
The Substation Market, Newport When: The 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month. Where: Behind the Substation community arts centre, Market St, Newport.
By public transport:Your text goes here Take the Werribee train line and alight at Newport. The Substation is the large building visible just beyond the train station. You are practically there already.
Bonus features: The proximity to the train station, and the Substation itself. There is often an art exhibition to check out, and on occasion – such as Christmas – a craft market taking place inside. This is a reasonably new market to the scene, and the response out west has been huge. If you enjoy it, you can enjoy the frequency – once a fortnight. Also great for those who aren't free to market-shop on Saturdays.
And a small market out west… (which gets included by bonus of being walking distance from the author's home)
Yarraville Farmers' Market When:The 4th Saturday of the month, 8:30am to 1pm. Where: Yarraville Gardens, corner Hyde Street and Somerville Road.
By public transport: Catch a train to Footscray Station and then catch the 409 bus from Irving Street, or walk for 15 - 20 minutes along Hyde Street.
The setting is another great place to take the family, with loads of picnic space, trees offering shade, and a children's playground with a very popular roundabout ride. Stay for lunch - if you're still at the Gardens after midday, you can catch the arrival of numerous Food Trucks at this well-catered destination.
By checking the websites at the top of this page, you'll note there are farmers' markets in Elwood, Coburg, Carlton, Caulfield, Fairfield, Hawthorn and more. There is bound to be one close to you which is accessible by public transport. Good exercise, good food, good fun – get out there.