To celebrate this time of plenty, we are highlighting some of our favourite local farm gates. Take your time to stock up on the abundance of deliciousness that this season has to offer. Remember that these are seasonal businesses so make sure you phone ahead to confirm opening times!
Down a narrow winding dirt road between Main Ridge and Shoreham is the picturesque Harts Farm. This thriving olive grove, apple cidery and farm gate shop produces award winning extra virgin olive oil. Some of the fruit is also handpicked to produce table olives which are supplied to local restaurants and can be purchased at the Farm Gate. Heritage cider apples grown onsite are used to make Hart’s Farm very own Farm cider. This artisan cider is unfiltered and bottle fermented, creating a very traditional farmhouse type dry cider. Farm produce, such as figs, rhubarb, artichokes, pears and eggs are also available when in season.
Staples Apple and Cherry Orchard
The Staples Family has been growing fruit trees on the Peninsula since 1953. In fact, currently there are three generations of the family actively working on the farm. Driving down the little dirt road to their orchard, it is hard to imagine the work going on just a few metres away, and while cherries are a summer crop, the autumn sees the new season apples come in and the packing shed again swing in to full gear. Staples Apple and Cherry Orchard specialises in a mix of new and old apple varieties suited to their particular micro climate; Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Fuji, Gala, and Kanzi. Autumn is also pear season, and they grow both the Packham and Williams’ varieties that make great eating pears. Packing the fruit daily ensures freshness and there is always the farmgate stall to get your supplies from at any time of the day, on any day of the week. Or if you are there on Friday and Sunday mornings you can purchase from the packing shed.
Peninsula Fresh Organics
Certified organic market gardeners, Peninsula Fresh Organics farm 40 acres of land and grow around 40 lines of vegetables, including heirloom and heritage vegetables, contemporary hybrids and some vegetables which vanished off most supermarket shelves many years ago (but which can be found in the Shield’s rustic farmgate shop). There is just so much colour that it has to be seen to be believed.
Benton Rise Farm
This little patch of paradise in Tuerong, has been meticulously created from overgrown paddocks into a glorious unique farm gate experience. Benton Rise Farm is a place where families can bring the kids out for the day, see and feed the animals, walk around the veggie patch and enjoy the atmosphere. The centrepiece of the market is the 100-year-old ‘Red Rattler’ train carriage that is used as the shop front for their own produce as well as produce from other local growers. Weekends are a busy time (open on Saturday and Sunday only) as all produce is picked fresh on the Friday in preparation for an early morning start on Saturday. Setting up the train for the day’s trade and continues through to Sunday afternoon, where they inevitably sell out of produce – so be quick!
Hawkes Farm Gate
This is a family run business that sells produce grown on site, as well as products from local growers. The Hawkes Family have been farming vegetables for 6 generations. Over the years, the farm has specialised in a number of vegetables, including carrots, however in 2007, the family started growing a small area of potatoes at the Boneo farm, and now their potatoes, including Hawkes premium kipflers, are available at many gourmet restaurants on the Peninsula and in Melbourne, as well as available to you at the Farm Store. The Hawkes Farm Gate store has evolved from a few bags of spuds in a shed with an honesty box, to a staffed shop selling Hawkes potatoes alongside a great variety of other fresh local vegetables. The farm also has small vegetable patch for the kids to scratch around in, with a beautiful old Farmall tractor – great for photos of your trip to the farm!
Kings Market Garden
Kings Market Garden is run by fourth generation market gardeners. Young families are welcome to visit, while the grown-ups shop, the kids can feed the chickens – they provide bread for this! Seasonal produce is available fresh daily at the farm gate and the staff are more than happy to suggest recipe ideas and explain how to best prepare the various vegies. Autumn is a great season for making a ‘throw-it-all-together’ salad. Try using Kings’ regular carrots, or Dutch carrots (they are smaller and sold in bunches), celery, cabbage, gourmet lettuce (curly and coloured) along with a smattering of chopped herbs (parsley, coriander, dill, mint, thyme, sage). Plus the roasting/soup-making season starts with brussels sprouts and parsnips coming into season. Keep your eyes open for Chinese broccoli, leeks, and cauli flower as they come into season towards winter.
To complement your fresh fruit and vegetable haul, be sure to visit Peninsula Fresh Seafood for all your fresh seafood including a range of locally caught whole fish together with other shellfish such as oysters, prawns and scallops; artisan cheese maker Main Ridge Dairy for a beautiful range of farmhouse cheeses; and Hillock Downs for chemical and preservative free beef products. The Mornington Peninsula is sure to provide all the freshest ingredients for your delicious autumn inspired meal!
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