In season: Spring

PEACHES AND NECTARINES

The warmer weather has seen the first of the stone fruit arrive at the farmers markets. Garry Rodgers, of the Honey Wagon has yellow and white flesh nectarines and yellow flesh peaches, which will be available at the market over the next few weeks.

MULBERRIES

Juicy, messy, sweet and delicious, mulberries will only be available for a short period, so enjoy them while you can. Find them at Rancho , Glenyce Creighton Organics and at Picone Exotics, who have just returned to the New Brighton Farmers Markets for the summer season.

HEIRLOOM TOMATOES

Coopers Shoot Tomatoes have some beautiful heirloom tomatoes available now, including some super sized Beefsteak that are full of old-fashioned tomato flavour. Grower Heather Armstrong is always happy to recommend varieties and will often have tasting plates available at the market so you can try before you buy. 

ONIONS

Not many farmers attempt to grow onions in our subtropical climate as they can be tricky, but Rod and Tania Bruin of Tyalgum farm Summit Organics were successful this year, growing a small crop that is quickly being snapped up. They come with tops attached, which you can also eat.

SALAD GREENS

With spring in the air, it’s time to start enjoying lighter eating and adding some extra fresh and crisp salad greens to your meals. The Salad Hut is a one-stop shop for everything salad, and always has a huge array of healthy locally grown greens to choose from including fancy lettuce, baby spinach, tatsoi, rocket, herbs, and watercress (a peppery green that’s highly nutritious and excellent on sandwiches).  Also look out for The Salad Hut’s mixed salad bunches – a generous bunch of rocket, coriander, tatsoi, and red beet leaf or red mizuna which creates a fantastic mix of texture, flavours and colour.

BROAD BEANS

Broad beans With their vibrant green colour and sweet, buttery, fresh flavour, broad beans are a classic spring vegetable. Packed with fibre and protein, they’re also really good for you. To prepare, first remove the outer pod then cook the beans in boiling water for two minutes. Cool then removed the outer skin from each bean. Mash if you like then drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and a few mint leaves as a side dish or serve on toast with a sprinkle of parmesan. Available from Jumping Red Ant at New Brighton and Mullumbimby Farmers Markets

TAKE HOME LASAGNA

A lot of love, time and effort goes into Byron Gourmet Pasta’s new take-home lasagna. First, local Coopers Shoot tomatoes are cooked for at least 24 hours for a rich tomato sauce, then the meat sauce, using local Hayters Hill beef is also slow cooked for 24 hours. A creamy bechamel is made, then it’s all constructed using Byron Gourmet Pasta’s hand made pasta sheets.  Available frozen from the Byron Gourmet Pasta stall, it’s a delicious and easy take home meal. (It also works as an ice brick to keep your produce cold while you’re out shopping and will be defrosted and ready to cook by the time you’re ready for dinner.)

MACADAMIA BUTTER

Macadamia nuts make one of the best nut butters because they are so creamy and high in the good fats similar to those you find in avocados and olive oil. Macadamia is a delicious, smooth, dairy free alternative to traditional butter – spread it on toast or even add to baking in place of butter. Local macadamia growers Rainforest Foods, based at Tuckombil, create a range of macadamia butters available at New Brighton including a natural and roasted version, as well as their delicious Mac-Cao – macadamia butter blended with cacao (a bit like Nutella but a whole lot better in so many ways).

COFFEE

The Northern Rivers is a great place to grow coffee. The climate is well-suited and there are none of the pests or diseases that can affect coffee in other parts of the world. Known for its sweet chocolatey taste, local coffee is also naturally low in caffeine (which means you can have that second cup without getting the jitters). There are several local growers at the farmers markets – for coffee by the cup and take home bags of beans visit Myocum Coffee or Bangalow Coffee.

SWEET POTATO

You may be familiar with the gold variety, but the purple, white and red are just as good. Roast and use in a salad, mash, or make deep fry for sweet potato chips. Available from Jumping Red Ant and Summit OrganicsT

HONEY

Award winning honey producer Garry Rodgers has a huge range of honeys to swirl over your morning porridge, stir into winter drinks, or in the case of his Jellybush honey, to add to your daily health routine. Jellybush, the equivalent to New Zealand’s Manuka honey, has very high antimicrobial levels, which means it’s considered medicinal. Garry says you can use it orally – a teaspoon a day for gut health, digestion, sore throat or keeping colds away, or topically it can help to heal wounds, cuts and burns.

BERRIES: Blueberry Fields have their delicious blueberries available fresh in punnets or as seconds in bulk buckets. L

PECANS: Northern NSW may be famous for macadamias, but it’s also one of the country’s biggest pecan-producing regions. Like macadamias, pecans are  full of healthy fats and a good source of fibre. They’re delicious in cakes and desserts, sprinkled in salads for some extra crunch and nutrition, or on your morning porridge. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer to keep them at their best and their nutrients intact. Available from The Spice Palace and Nimbin Valley Pecans and Rice.

Beetroot – a winter vegie staple

BEETROOT: Antioxidant-rich fresh beetroot is a winter veggie staples. Eat it raw, grated onto sandwiches or thinly sliced into a salad, roast it in cubes and toss in a vegie salad, slice thinly and roast with olive oil and salt for beetroot chips or make your own fresh beetroot dip.  If you’re buying fro the farmers market, your beetroot will most likely come with tops attached – don’t throw them away! Beetroot greens are especially nutritious – packed with calcium iron and vitamins A and C. Use them in the same way you would spinach, steamed, sautéed, in soups or stir-fries or in a green smoothie.

Also in season now: Apples, avocado, bananas, beetroot, black sapote, blueberries, broccoli, capsicum, carrots, eggplant, fennel, garlic, ginger, green beans, kale, leeks, lettuce, macadamia, mushroom, pecan, pumpkin, peas, potato, silverbeet, snow peas, strawberries, sweet potato, tomato, turmeric, zucchini

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