Northey Street is one place in Brisbane I couldn't wait to get back to. I dream about the place when I'm in Shanghai, and imagine how good it will be to walk through it again on a cold winter morning. A weeekly organic farmers market is held there every Sunday, but Northey Street occupies a much bigger place in Brisbane's heart. Known as the Northey Street City Farm, this large piece of fertile land just a short distance from the city centre was originally the site of several houses washed away in the 1974 Brisbane floods, and is now a huge community farm and garden, open to all.
In 1992, a group of friends interested in permaculture began searching for a place to develop as a community farm, and were eventually assigned the Northey Street site. Over the years Norther Street has grown from a flat grassy expanse into a glorious ramble of Australian native plants, fruit trees, vegetable gardens, herb plots, chicken pens and native bees. The weekly markets bring together a large Brisbane community who care about food, to buy organic produce, walk around the farm and see how it can be reproduced in a suburban backyard, eat delicious food, and learn about permaculture.
We were partway to developing our own permaculture set-up when we left for Shanghai, having just finished building our henhouse (the Chicken Hilton, as it was known), establishing a vegetable garden and installing a gray water system for diverting the washing machine water to the garden (Brisbane had just come out of its longest-ever drought - none of us knew another severe flood would follow it). So I love to visit Northey Street to see what might become of our garden when we return to Australia eventually. Bees are definitely on my list!
The markets are superb and get better and better each year as more organic farmers and food producers contribute. Local cheeses, olives and meats are offered alongside seasonal herbs and vegetables. There's always a stall selling the surplus produce from the farm itself. Children are an integral part of Northey Street's community and every week the markets is filled with families. There are planting, potting and painting activities, a huge garden to run around, and a very popular rope swing hanging from one of the ancient mango trees.
My favourite part of the markets, without doubt, is the breakfast. Now there's a surprise. Having got up at sparrow's to get to the markets on time, once all the fruit and vegetables are bought it's time to grab a hot cup of coffee and a crispy bacon, egg and spinach roll, then go and sit in the glorious winter sunshine in the garden.
Northey Street Markets
Corner Northey and Victoria Streets, Windsor
Every Sunday from 6am
Permaculture courses and workshops: information here
Northey Street Edible Plants Nursery
Tuesday to Saturday: 9.00 am – 4.00 pm
Sunday: 6 am to 12 noon
Labels: Australia, food, markets