Published 18 March 2020

The need for fresh, healthy food has never been more pronounced. If the queues at the supermarket are more than you can cope with (or they are sold out), the simple answer is just around the corner in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges.

As Melbourne’s ‘food bowl’,  there are many growers and farmers in the region offering nutritious, flavoursome and super-fresh produce. For many of our growers, the autumn season is their peak production period, so they’ve got plenty to share.

Pic: Rayners Orchards - retail outlet

Supporting local businesses is more than just a hashtag. At this critical time, buying from the farmgate is one sure way to help each other out. Not only will you have your pick of the best, you’ll be adapting to an increasingly ‘back to basics’ world that underlines sustainability and community.

Here are some hints for produce basics during times of need and scarcity:

  • The opportunity to buy from the farmgate is a long-established custom in the region and farmgates will welcome your support. Make a point of purchasing direct.
  • Farmers markets have always provided us with a ‘close to the earth’ source and are a great way to shop broadly and conveniently. While some markets may postpone their activities during the current health emergency, there are many that will continue (with protective measures in place). 
  • Keep an eye out for roadside stalls and pop up stands as growers look for resourceful ways to make their products available.
  • Call and ask a farmer about mail order/home delivery – many suppliers are adding services such as direct-to-door delivery as a means of supporting their customers. 
  • When you do buy fresh produce, buy in bulk and spend some time preserving, fermenting, drying and transforming your produce into pantry staples.  Some farmers and suppleirs are offer preserving classes to get you started. Make your own sauces, jams, poaches and more.
  • Buy a little more produce than you need (without hoarding) and share with your neighbours.  Come together and help each other by exchanging what you have more of for what you have less of.
  • Take time to visit a café or restaurant if you can. Health and safety is essential to their operation and so are you as a customer.

And of course practise hygienic food handling procedures and adopt appropriate physical distancing practices where ever you go.

Good food is just one element of wellbeing. Eat for wellness and renew your appreciation for simple measures that reflect a ‘slow living’ approach in your family. Give your immune system a boost and boost the local economy at the same time. Let’s get through this well.

And it’s good planning to ring ahead and find out what’s available that day or coming up. 

Need some ideas where to start?

In this post

Rayners Orchard Tours

Rayner’s Orchard currently grow over 450 varieties of fruit and is around an hours drive from the city centre, located in Melbourne’s food bowl, the Yarra Valley.