Early Fruit and Size-able Vegetables!

Apricots Are Here- 2 Weeks Early

It’s a sure sign of a warm spring when the first of the summer stone fruit (always apricots) starts to ripen almost 2 weeks ahead of schedule. On their Hawke’s Bay holding, tucked in behind the Esk Valley, the Bland family has one thousand apricot trees, which are virtually groaning with fruit this season. The Blands have a daughter living here in Cambridge so they rather enjoy the Friday night trek over the Desert Road in their unassuming and unmarked white van, which is packed to the gunwales with boxes, and boxes of tree ripened apricots. These, they proceed to sell at the Cambridge and Hamilton markets much to the delight of their loyal patrons who remember them from last year and the year before that. Apricots are a difficult fruit to get just right when they are fresh as they ripen very quickly hence the reason why most of the apricot crop is usually dried and packaged for sale in the baking aisles. Not so with the Bland’s summerfruit which is juicy and sweet and merely hours off the tree as you are buying it straight from the grower. $5 for a bag of Hawke's Bay sunshine.

Massive Strawberries

The Strawberries are astonishing this season – what a wonderful crop. Have you checked out the size of Kane’s strawberries? Extraordinary. You would think that such big berries would be watery and tasteless but this variety (I can never remember the name) is quite literally bursting with sweet juice and has a great flavour. Each berry is the size of an apricot. How can something so divine be so good for you? It sure is and on many levels.

Enormous Broccoli

And talking about big – check out Richard Cato’s Broccoli this week– he had a great sign up at Te Awamutu saying “Look what the rain has done to our broccoli” As you can see from the above picture, the one on the right is the regular size but the one on the left had an extra dose of rain and Bazinga!– broccoli flower power. Richard also has vitamin K rich kale. He will give you excellent instructions on how to get the best out your kale when you purchase.

Get Your Gifts From Local Small Producers This Year

The market is cranking up with the summery weather and Christmas around the corner. There are masses of great foodie gift ideas at the market. Woofa’s Doggone Treats have an interesting range of organic and wholesome dog treats, which are completely natural and handmade by people who know dogs (and cats) and what is good for them. If you have a friend with a dog, a mixed selection of Woofa’s best treats would make a unique and thoughtful poochie pressie.

Sweetree Honey

Sweetree Honey have a wonderful range of honey, beautifully packaged for a lovely Christmas present: a selection of 3 different honeys presented in a handmade wooden box with a sliding lid. Gorgeous. Honey is nature’s sweetener and Sweetree Honey is collected in the Hakarimatas and Maracopa. Can’t get much more local than that!


HerbsPlus have a great idea for a gift. A Holiday Herb Box: your choice of 4 pots of organically grown herbs nestling in a recycled wooden box (made by IHC clients), which you can bring with you camping or to the bach. Snip them for culinary use while on holidays then bring them home and bung ‘em in the garden for use during the rest of the season!
Wayne and Phyllis of Living Gold Olive Oil have a Galleon Bottle of their very special boutique olive oil for only $28. A galleon bottle has a little glass handle at the top – like the Chianti bottles of the 60s. It looks great and can be used again once the oil is finished either as a vinaigrette bottle or as the rustic candleholder decorated with masses of dripped wax that you’ve always wanted!

Monovale Blueberries
always have a gorgeous range of Christmas wrapped organic blueberry products – jellies, preserves, chocolate-coated blueberries, juices or little gift baskets with a variety of blueberry themed treats. Grab a blue berry waffle or a smoothie while you are perusing their selection.
Lanesend Organic Waikato Wines are sure to please. This is a wonderful example of local produce. Organically grown wine right here in Hamilton. Only $20 per bottle and well worth it for each delicious drop.

Now if all of these ideas still don’t grab you, all you have to do is buy Farmers’ Market Vouchers from Mona or Amanda at the Information Tent. $10, $20 and $50 vouchers are available and wouldn’t that be an absolutely wonderful surprise for a market lover to find in their Christmas card??? With a $50 voucher your loved one could indulge in some Goat cheese, a big punnet of strawberries, a Christmas pudding and a jar of pickled walnuts – oh yeah. Even a $10 gift voucher would buy a cappuccino and a croissant and a morning’s entertaining crowd watching. Now that is priceless!

For fabulous music and a hip hoppin’ atmosphere, don’t miss the Hamilton Market. If you want something more leafy and sedate with a genuine cricket match going on in the background, Cambridge has what it takes and if you want a small, intimate and handy midweek market, Thursday afternoon at Te Awamutu is the place to be. Become part of the Waikato Farmers’ Market Community. Gate to Plate, Field to Fork, Fresh is Best. Whatever the catch cry, the Farmers’ Market is here to stay. Like us on Facebook. See the icon at the right of the screen to bring up the fb link and spread the good word about good food.

See you at the markets!