The Localist

From paddock to plate – the Orange Region Farmers Market

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I’ve almost stopped going to supermarkets altogether since moving to the NSW countryside. With a plethora of farmers markets on weekends in nearby towns and villages, there’s really nothing better than going straight to source for your food.

Here in Orange, the second Saturday of every month is the Orange Region Farmers Market. In the winter months it’s held in the pavilion halls of the local showground, and when it warms up it becomes an outdoor affair on the grassy forecourt in front of the library and art gallery.

Orange is a town that loves its freshly ground coffee, so the first thing I do is go to one of the barista vans when I arrive at the markets. Amongst the organic vegetable stores, freshly dug up spuds and single-source milk straight from the dairy, a number of beef and lamb farmers also serve up their goods.

I am telling you now, once you’ve eaten hand-reared meat straight from the farm you’ll never glance at a supermarket meat section again. Orange is also happily home to what I consider the best pork in the world, and the queue for Trunkey Creek’s bacon and egg rolls each market day is testament to this praise.

There’s a few olive groves surrounding the rolling hills of the Orange region, and there’s at least two or three growers offering up bottles of home-harvested olive oil, olives and tapenades.

These are the perfect accompaniment to sneaky shots of Stone Pine Distillery’s handcrafted native finger lime liqueur (their flavoured gins ain’t half bad either), or if you’re into sampling unpasteurized homemade beer, you can grab a ‘growler’ from microbrewer Borenore Brewhouse.

This being vineyard country, there’s always a local vigneron or two at each market. There’s perhaps nothing more civilised than testing out an entire wine range while chatting to the people who grew it, harvested it and bottled it. After living in the countryside, I also hardly ever go to bottle shops anymore. It’s much better fun going straight to the vineyard – not only do you get to purchase at wholesale, but you leave having had a very good chat and a laugh – and slightly tipsy.

For those with a sweet tooth, local farmers’ markets never disappoint. Orange is fairly lucky to be the home of the winner of Masterchef 2011, Kate Bracks. She’s at the markets each month showcasing her amazing cakes and sweet things, so that’s pretty lucky for us locals. One of our one-hat restaurants, Racine, has also started up a bakery in town making to-die-for pastries, organic sourdoughs and venison pies, and you have to get in quick at their market stall before everything routinely sells out.

After living here in Orange for a few months, I went back to the city to see some friends and they were amazed at the ‘country glow’ I had. Apparently I was oozing healthiness. “It’s the fresh food!” I told them, and since then I’ve had a steady trickle of urban escapees making the drive over the Blue Mountains each month to join me for market day.

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MEET THE LOCAL: KELLY-ANNE SMITH

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