What stood out for me about Toowoomba Farmers’ Market is that it felt very well curated.
Someone with a good eye for aesthetic appeal had laid out their key stalls at the foot of the windmills in the Cobb & Co. Museum grounds.
The market organisers’ own stall offers up wildflowers, Paddock to Potager Apple and Porketta Burgers ($7), and flavoursome Lamb Kofta ($4/each) on sticks. Prices here – as you can see – are way lower than Sydney.
Appropriately the museum celebrates horse-drawn vehicles and heritage trades, and so does the market, with a good amount of old-fashioned pickling going on. From Brandis Home Grown we picked up a Curried Cucumber Pickle ($8/520g) full of yellow mustard seeds, and so tasty it inspired us to recreate our own version when we returned home.
These products are made in a small town called Douglas, about twenty clicks from Toowoomba. These makers - Howard and Eileen Brandis - are dab hands with strong flavours. Using a catalogue of ingredients like allspice, turmeric, pimento, cloves and cayenne pepper, they make a great Green Tomato Pickle ($8/520g), and an even better Flaming Hot Chilli Sauce ($8/250g). Despite the name, the chilli sauce is a triumph of bright flavour over bald, searing heat.
Their pickled vegetables stay wonderfully crisp – perhaps a testament to the quality local produce that they use; much of which is grown in the neighbouring Lockyer Valley and at Kulpi.
As we wind our way down the side of Campbell Street – one of Toowoomba’s famous green camphor laurel avenues – we’re encouraged to smell the dirt of the Lockyer Valley on the organic and chemically-free offerings.
This flat flood plain that you probably drove through on your way to Toowoomba from Brisbane, is referred to as ‘Australia’s Salad Bowl’ for good reason. The farmers at this market help to show that the Lockyer Valley is used to grow a wide range of things.
Another standout stall selling bonafide Queensland products is the Peanut Van. We’re loving their Cold-Pressed Virgin Peanut Oil ($5.95/375ml) made from peanuts grown in Kingaroy - the 'Peanut Capital' of Queensland. After cooking with this high flash-point 'good fats' oil at home, I’m wishing I bought more of it, and delved deeper into their range of products, which include peanut brittle and peanut butter. Don't just take my word for it, they've got the Spanish bull - Miguel Maestre's - stamp of approval too, with his face adorning the Toowoomba stall.
With sun-warmed organic Mulberries ($4) staining my lips and fingers purple, I did the rest of the market in a haze of childhood memory, thinking about what food used to taste like before the price war between supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths ruined it.
The buzzwords of this boutique collection of stalls are definitely organic and chemical free. There are also the best selection of stalls from meat producers I’ve seen in a while, all touting the word ‘happy’ - Toowoomba is the gateway to the Darling Downs after all.
As Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio explained to me, what’s great about Toowoomba is that you don’t have to drive to the big smoke (Brisbane) to get what you need. Looking around at this fortnightly market, I can see he’s correct – they’ve got everything you need right here.
Toowoomba Farmers’ Market
2nd & 4th Saturday of the month, 8am-1pm
Corner Lindsay and Campbell Streets, East Toowoomba
Ph: (0439) 844 849