I'm a freelance writer living on Sydney's north shore. I like tea, books and pop music. If I can combine these into a single activity I'm a happy man.
Published August 12th 2012
The cosy community farmer's market lives on in Ramsgate
Farmer's markets are quickly becoming the de rigeur place to shop for your fresh fruit and vegetables, something the big supermarkets have cottoned onto with their stores looking more and more like a farmer's market every day.
Ramsgate Organic Foodie's Market is one of the newer arrivals on the farmer's market scene, but is undoubtedly one of the best. Starting four years ago with a grand total of three stalls, today there are over 45 stalls with more being added on a regular basis.
Held in the heart of Ramsgate Primary School every Saturday, the focus at Ramsgate is on good, fresh organic food with only a select few arts and crafts stalls present. And what food it is! There is a mouth-watering array of stalls from the traditional fruit and vegetables through to olive oil, nougat and raw chocolate.
As you would expect from a farmer's market all food is organic and Australian grown and the market attracts sellers from all over the state. Beef from Wootten Valley Meat is raised in Wootten, Muscat bring their vegetables from Windsor and Yuri travels from Orange every week with his delicious apples and pears. Yuri is a true character at the markets, and if you are lucky he will bring out his accordion and perform for the crowds. Also look out for Forster Fresh Seafoods from northern NSW who deal exclusively in whiting and make the most delicious gluten free fish rissoles and sausages, available at the market.
One of the best things about Ramsgate is the collection of truly unique food stalls. It hosts one of the very few Syrian food outlets in Sydney, Valley Falls Catering. Vegetarians will be in heaven with their vegetarian dips and food packs. I can heartily recommend the broad fava bean salad, the beans in chilli sauce and you will never want to buy supermarket hummus again after trying Valley Falls'.
On the sweeter end of the scale, Ramsgate is, I'm told, one of the only places in Australia you can buy authentic, home made Greek doughnuts, or Loukoumades. See Delish Greek Cuisine a few stalls up from Valley Falls Catering, for these delicious treats along with a selection of freshly prepared Greek and Italian meals including lasagna, arancini and moussaka.
Even your average, workaday foods have an exotic twist at Ramsgate. Local bakery Brasserie Bread is certainly not about the plain white loaf and their breads and cakes are art forms, including their delicious quinoa and soy loaf. And while Simon at Vegie King has a tasty display of normal vegetables, his heirloom tomatoes are a must. Forget the pert, homegenised red tomato and go ugly. Heirlooms come in a variety of shapes and colours, from green to orange and one type even resembles a mini watermelon. They may not necessarily look pretty, but they taste fabulous.
Don't miss Ladybug Preserves where Maria has a collection of jams, relishes and sauces that look almost too good to eat. Keep an eye out for her layered jams – as beautiful to look at as they taste. With their pretty packaging they also make great gifts.
A nice touch at Ramsgate is the baby animal farm, bringing the farm yard to the city. Kids will be entertained for hours and the adorable lambs, rabbits, chickens and ducks will have adults cooing as much as the kids.
Ramsgate Organic Foodie's Market is by no means the biggest and flashiest farmers market in town, but that is exactly what makes it one of the best. Its smaller size gives it far more of a cosy, community feel and there is more time and space to chat with the stall holders about their produce. It is run by the school, not the local council or an industry body, and all the profits go back into the school. So far this has enabled them to build a huge playground awning to give weather protection and landscape and extend playing areas.
Ramsgate Organic Foodie's Market is held every Saturday between 8am and 1pm at Ramsgate Public School, 33 Florence Street, Ramsgate Beach. Entry is free. The market are currently developing a website, for enquiries and more info please visit their Facebook page.
Free on street parking is relatively easy to find at the school and in nearby streets. Buses 303 and X03 stop at the junction of The Grand Parade and Florence Street. The nearest train stations are Kogarah and Rockdale. Bus 947 will take you to the school from Kogarah train station; bus 478 will take you to The Grand Parade from Rockdale station.