Canberrans are invited to score the season’s first cherries this weekend as interstate farmers and producers return to the Capital Region Farmers Market at Exhibition Park.
After what has been a very challenging few months with border closures, late frosts, high rainfall and a hailstorm, regional growers will be welcomed back to Canberra for the launch of the 2021 cherry season on Saturday, 20 November.
Paul Eccelston, from Thornbrook Orchard in Nashdale, NSW, is hoping for a good cherry season and is encouraging Canberrans to continue to support farmers after he was locked out of the ACT due to COVID-19 border closures during the winter apple and pear season.
“It was pretty tough,” he says.
“With the border lockdown, the tap was pretty much turned off for us and there was so much waste.
“But we’re hoping to have our best Christmas cherries ready for market in December, and we’ve always had great support from Canberra.”
Capital Region Farmers Market manager Sarah Power says even though the market remained open as an essential service during lockdown, many farmers, growers and producers were impacted by COVID-19 border closures.
“Now they’re all returning, and many of our other restrictions have also lifted, meaning our market can return to operating how we did pre-lockdown, albeit with some extra safety precautions,” she says.
“We want to thank the local community for supporting our farmers, growers and producers during the past few months in what was a very difficult time. The impacts were far-reaching and your support has meant so much.”
To coincide with the launch of the cherry season on 20 November, Capital Region Farmers Market will be giving away 15 boxes of farm-fresh cherries.
“Customers have the chance to win the first boxes of cherries of the season,” says Sarah.
“Our region is fortunate to be near some of the greatest cherry-growing districts in Australia, and our cherry growers – Hill Lock Orchard, Drive In Orchards, Torry Hill Orchards, Thornbook Orchard and Willayoung Orchard – will have the most delicious cherries on offer.
“It’s going to be a cherry-filled day!”
Customers can enter the cherry raffle on Saturday, 20 November, at the market’s dedicated cherry stall, or online via the Capital Region Farmers Market website. The first winner will be drawn at 7:30 am, and then every half hour until 11 am.
Cherries must be collected on the day.
Sarah is expecting a great turnout on Saturday morning as families stay and eat, meet up with friends, and enjoy the market vibe.
“This is the start of our cherry season and we want to welcome back as many of our customers as we can to celebrate this festive time of year,” she says.
As well as cherries, market stallholders will also have a range of fresh cherry products on offer, including cherry jam, cherry tarts and cherry sauce, while Claystone Meats will be creating cherry sausages and a rolled cherry stuffed lamb and beef roast.
Sarah says all stallholders have finally returned to the market, with summer produce flowing in from nearby farms.
The Capital Region Farmers Market is located at Exhibition Park on Flemington Road in Mitchell.