Kirra, Coolangatta and Tweed Heads

Thursday 03 July 2014

Burleigh Farmers Market

Rain, Kale or Shine Every Saturday Morning

A trip to the Burleigh Farmers Markets is a great start to the weekend: glorious winter sunshine and happy community connectedness.  For food lovers, and vegan food lovers especially, this is the Saturday morning place to be on the Coast. It’s an ever-changing line up with fabulous new food vendors coming on board all the time and surprise new start-ups every week.

Let’s begin inside. The “Burleigh Healthy Food Hall” is a whole undercover world devoted to home-grown, GMO free, chemical free and seasonal produce. It’s also known as the LOHAS precinct – that’s short for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability.

My first stop is Raw Connections. In fact, I make a beeline for it. No serious self-respecting food lover can bypass this stall. Everything here is organic raw vegan and gluten-free. Sweet treats abound. There are OMG flavour sensations like the chocolate mint tarts and the caramel slice squares that are finding their way into the smart cafes around town. Savoury things too, like raw pizza slices, made with dehydrators and things I don’t need to know about. Suffice to say it’s all utterly good, minimally processed, wholesome and delicious.

Organic dark green leafy vegies are easy to find. There’s curly kale, Russian kale, silverbeet, bunches of herbs of every sort: basil, peppermint, coriander, mint and more.  At $3 a bunch, it’s more expensive than the conventional produce outside but I’m reassured by the tiny tell-tale moth bitten holes that not a skerrick of chemical pesticide has ever touched these leaves. Ingredients? Just pure rainwater, sunshine, soil nutrients and lots of home-grown pampering.

If you fancy nasturtiums and marigolds for lunch, the salad flower lady, Denise, from the Golden Valley Farm, has just what you need with edible organic bouquets at $6 a bunch.  Handy décor to have around should you feel the sudden urge to snack on a bunch of lemon balm, amaranth, mustard, rocket, tarragon, red mizuna and garlic flowers. Bring on the salad dressing!

Across the way is the organic fruit stall run by Charelle. We get chatting and she shows me a photo of her of her beautiful grown-up daughter.  Her family farm in the Tweed area grows all the produce for the stall - certified organic bananas, chokos, lemons, lettuce and mandarins.  Clean. Fresh. Local. Fabulous!

At the far end of the hall, Jordana from Clean Tea has beautifully bottled potions that include detox tea, dream team, and a “green smoothie” tea - made from coconut, chia seeds, vanilla bean powder and acai berry powder.  There’s even a “love-is-brewing” tea - a very special formula that I’m sure Jordana would love to tell you about.

Bike riders! Here's some news. You could be the king or queen of urban cool with a messenger bag, iPad bag, shoulder bag, backpack, or cycle pannier made from – wait for it - recycled tyres!  There’s not a bit of animal hide in sight here – in fact the people from Cycle Philausophy happily announce that no animal was killed nor any tree cut down in the making of their products.  It’s a very chic and clever upcycling solution to the more than 1 370 000 000 tyres produced every year.

Outside, and in the sunshine, we find yet more sweet treats.  New girls to the market, Meg and Emma of Raw Passion offer enormous loveliness and gorgeous sweet slices. Five for $20. Take your pick of Espresso slice, Coconut Bounty, Raw Carrot Cake and Peanut Snickers Slice, and more.  It’s all raw, vegan, gluten-free and jammed packed with antioxidants and nutrient-dense healthy superfoods. The girls began this mission as a means of providing healthy sugar-free treats for their kids – and now we all get to benefit from their delicious inventiveness. “Unbelievably yummilicios and beautiful” is the comment from my market-going buddy.

There’s organic produce outside too. I discover the “Tamborine Creek Organics” stall, the “organic bananas” stall and a whole laneway of providores selling ultra fresh local fruit and vegies.  I chat with Stuart from the nursery who’s an expert on herbs and how to grow them (and a green energy consultant to boot).

Olives, dips and bread?  I found plenty including a wonderfully piquant green olive dip. There’s infused olive oils, tiny bottles of dukka and seasonings like an “ocean blend” of rock salt, thyme, parsley and lemon pepper.  Huckleberry Bakes has sourdough and every artisanal loaf imaginable.

Feeling thirsty? You could try the fresh coconut juice at the Coconut Kid, or a freshly pressed sugar cane juice with Tahitian lime and ginger at Raw Cane Juice.  Inside the hall, there’s a turmeric brew and bottles of “wildly fermented” raw organic local kombucha.  For coffee lovers, the village Café, and at least 3 other coffee stalls, will serve up your organic coffee in whatever way you like it.

These are very kid-friendly markets. I had a gaggle of gorgeous young girls in tow last Saturday morning. After a period of good behaviour hanging out with me, they rushed off to find the fun things.  They were enthralled for quite a while by the tall man in the top hat with the dancing, violin-playing bear. Then they found the kids playground, face painting area, organic licorice sweets stall, and a fully enclosed “jumping castle”, amongst other attractions.  This last one strikes me as a parental heaven-sent; a place where you could happily deposit the kids for a good half hour and head off for a bit of market “me” time (like a 20-minute massage in the “Massage Melt Down” tent inside the hall).  But I’m no parent and I may have just said something totally out of kilter with the modern parenting handbook – make your own call here – I but offer a thought!

Address: Burleigh Heads State School, Lower Gold Coast Highway (Gold Coast Highway and West Burleigh Road intersection).
Parking: Free on the oval and surrounds.
Hours:  Every Saturday 7am - 12 noon  (rain, hail or shine).
In a nutshell:  Once is never enough.