Wednesday 15 August 2007

Collingwood children’s farm – peppercorn trees and part time vegetarians

On Saturday morning, E, Will and I went to the Farmers Market at Collingwood Children’s Farm. My current book, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, is making me think a lot about eating locally, and needing to visit farmers markets. I confess to always feeling a little overwhelmed by such abundance of good food and unsure what I need, but I am getting better at buying at such places.

The day started well with a parking place presenting itself – which in that area makes you feel truly blessed (although admittedly it would be nice to have a farmers market in walking distance)! The market is always busy. You enter down a little path past leafy garden plots and chook pens complete with preening roosters. E was the first to be distracted and left us to indulge in coffee and porridge while he read the paper and people-watched in the café.

Will and I continued past the pancake stall in the barn, past the fruit trees stall to the clearing where a circle of stalls is surrounded by gum trees. It was a fine sunny winter day, although there was one incident with the awning of a stall dancing in the wind a little too dangerously with stall holders chasing after it. Many stall holders were wise to the wind and held onto their tent frames.

There were all sort of delicacies on offer: olives, spices and even nettles. I am always interested in tasting all sorts of food – falafel, apple and lemon juice, cheeses, and blood oranges. Will and I decided to stop for some great Turkish bread with spinach and fetta in them (see my pic of it on my knee) which we enjoyed on a couple of damp haybales. We watched them being chargrilled on a little grill and ate them fresh and warm out of the paper bag.

I enjoyed buying lots of yummy food and some chatting with stall holders. Our favourite stall holder was the man selling eggs. Will, a fellow vegetarian, asked the difference between free range, vegetarian and organic eggs. He was told that hens are carnivores and can only go vegetarian for weeks or they stop laying eggs. As long time vegetarians, Will and I were a little unsure about buying eggs from part time vegetarians.

After the shopping and Turkish bread (which E had managed to join us for so he could share mine) we returned to the café for drinks and cake. I had organic ginger beer and a lovely fresh dark chocolate and blueberry muffin. Will chose a very cute looking cup cake. (E again shared mine). All very pleasing, if you don't mind a wait for coffees. It is an outdoor café with wooden seats and benches, umbrellas to keep shade and rain off, and fine peppercorn trees around us. It gave us time to spot peahens, mull over if we are secondary carnivores when we eat eggs, and wonder what sort of children were farmed at a children's farm (and I will spare you the more nerdy details of the discussion)!

Here is what I bought – probably a little more expensive than the supermarket but such a nicer shopping experience: Vegetarian eggs (laid by part time vegetarian hens!), Maffra red Leicester cheese, rhubarb, falafel, broccoli, parsley, frozen raspberries, tomatoes, a mint plant, Di’s rhubarb and raspberry jam, St Andrews olive bread and a fruit scroll.

'Local' in inner city Collingwood actually means local to the state rather than the suburb but the stall holders seemed like decent hardworking people producing quality goods that hadn't travelled too far to my table. I felt blessed indeed as I left with my bag of goodies!

Update April 2008
Visited farmer's market again and was impressed at range of fruit and vegetable stalls. Got the last punnet of strawberries for my gluten free niece, had lemon and apple juice, corn on the cob, dried fruit, and ice cream. Bought rhubarb, heirloom pumpkins and Hope Farm wholemeal sourdough bread. Then visited the animals with my mum, sister and nieces - chooks, geese, cows, goats, horses and pigs. But no rabbits for Maddy!

Update May 2010:
Still love going to the children's farm. For more photos and stories of visits go to:

Collingwood Children's FarmSecond Saturday of the Month
St Heliers St, Abbotsford
44G5 in the Melways


  1. Carniverous hens? Really? How utterly bizarre!

  2. The Kingsolver's rather good, and making me feel the same way.

    Lovely photos!

  3. Wendy - I was gobsmacked by carnivorous hens - I grew up with chooks in the backyard and I never remember them having meat - although Barbara Kingsolver comments that they eat beetles and insects which was illuminating!

    thanks Lucy - yes, I am really enjoying the Kingsolver book - it is quite a challenge on eating habits!

  4. I have to check out this Kingsolver book. I love her writings.

  5. Carnivorous chooks don't surprise me. I recall the chooks we had when I was a child getting meat scraps in amongst the kitchen scraps. And now my dad makes a hot mash for his chooks and it always includes meat scraps from the table.

  6. Nathalie - I love other Kingsolver novels and her new book is worth a look!

    Kathleen - we had the chook bin where all our scraps went when I was young so I guess meat went in there but I just didn't think about it - and I hadn't thought it was essential to them laying eggs! I'd always thought it was something they could give up anything rather than an integral part of the diet!

  7. When I was a child we had a cottage at Lake Eugenia and later on one at Lion's Head on the Bruce Peminsula. We spent many a day in Collingwood on the mountain slide ride ( I have the scars to prove it) and skiing at Blue Mountain. I now live "out west" but mom and dad venture up there quite often still!!!!

  8. thanks Valli - your collingwood sounds lovely - my collingwood is a small inner city suburb in Melbourne which is best known for its aussie rules football team - so the children's farm there is a little oasis of country in the middle of town which makes it special!


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