Braidwood’s farming community and local producers make the most of the region’s cool climate by offering a plethora of fresh produce and gourmet goods you won’t find anywhere else. Looking for a gourmet souvenir to take home after you visit this gorgeous heritage-listed town? Here’s our pick of the bunch, and tips on where you can get your hands on the products.
After discovering the lifestyle farm he and his wife, Meraiah Foley, bought nearly 20 years ago was full of native mountain pepper, former international photojournalist Tim Wimborne decided to make the most of the bounty on his doorstep.
The pair has since built a business growing and selling native mountain pepper and expanded into the production of a range of pastas, flatbreads and pepper salts under the Braidwood Food Company moniker.
Last year’s bushfires devastated much of Tim’s crop and, while working on rebuilding, he has ramped up product development across the value-add side of the business which has seen Braidwood Food Company’s turnover skyrocket. He’ll shortly add a new flatbread to his sought-after range.
“COVID has made people shop and eat differently,” he says. “They want local, handmade products.” Tim’s goods are stocked in various gourmet outlets across the ACT and Southern NSW and the client base continues to expand. And in good news for Braidwood Food Company fans, he plans to open a new dine-in shop in town soon.
Bronwyn Richards knows her apples. And her onions. She’s also a dab hand when it comes to white Asian turnips. After many years running the impressive Wynlen House urban farm alongside Helen Lynch, it’s little wonder Bronwyn is a font of knowledge on anything to do with sustainable farming.
When the pair set up Wynlen House on a deceptively large plot in Braidwood’s Monkittee Street, the aim was to prove that you could grow produce all-year-round, despite the region’s challenging cool climate. Adopting sustainable polyculture methods, the beds across the 1000 square metre market garden are overflowing with produce ranging from pumpkins and cabbages to Brussel sprouts, beetroot, fennel, radishes and Chinese greens. There are trees full of apples and blueberry bushes trailing over wooden fences.
The bulk of the fruit and veg is sold at the fortnightly Braidwood Farmers Market, with any overflow packed into produce boxes distributed by the Southern Harvest Association. Wynlen House also breeds chooks and ducks and turkeys for meat and eggs.
Best of all, Bronwyn and Helen offer a range of workshops and classes for those wanting to learn more about gardening and animal husbandry.
I’ve just told Bees R Us owner Scott Williams about an alarming photo I’ve seen on social media of a young bloke in the Dominican Republic casually walking down the street with his left arm completely covered in bees. How is it possible that he’s not being stung? Scott explains that it’s all about the queen bee. If she’s safely ensconced in the young man’s fist or even in a “queen cage” hung around his neck, the rest of the swarm will happily follow.
Since he enrolled in a beekeeping course after injuring himself in a workplace accident about 16 years ago, Scott has become something of an expert on these highly productive insects. He and his wife Armonde have about 30 hives from which they source the honey and beeswax they sell in its raw form, and use in a range of handmade products including hand cream, lip balm, soaps, candles and even furniture polish. As well as selling their products at the local markets and to local stockists, you can buy online or drop into the Bees R Us shop at 69 Duncan Street, Braidwood, which also sells beekeeping supplies.
The Watkins-Sully family bought a disused 1920s cheese factory in Reidsdale in 2007 which they transformed into a production hub and store. They produce traditionally made cider, perry, mead, apple juice, ginger beer and various condiments. Visits by appointment.
Jenny Daniher and Cathy Owen grow local garlic which is fermented and transformed into a range of delicious black garlic products including bulbs, pastes, dressings and powders.
Homemade preserves, handmade felt items and gourmet dog treats from Nola and Jenny McCurley of nearby Captains Flat.
From carrots to passata, beeswax wraps and moisturiser bars, John Carroll and Christina Jagusiak’s products are handmade, ethically sourced and without additives.
Organically grown garlic from a valley between Braidwood and Bungendore. Georgina Byrnes’ products include garlic scapes, garlic powder, garlic plaits and dehydrated garlic flakes.
Award-winning cool-climate wines from owner and winemaker Carla Rodeghiero and winemaker Malcolm Burdett.
Where to find the best local products
Held in the National Theatre on the main street of Braidwood on the first and third Saturdays of the month (8:30 am to 12:30 pm), the market is a great opportunity to chat to local farmers about the food you’re buying, and support the local farming community. Pick up everything from fruit and veg to beef, wines and cider, preserves and jam, garlic and honey – many from the makers listed above.
Also in the National Theatre building, the visitors’ centre has everything you need to find your way around Braidwood, with maps, brochures and first-hand tips from volunteers in ready supply. There is also a small range of local food products from local makers.
Your one-stop-shop for dry goods and condiments, charcuterie, cheeses and more from local, national and international producers.
If you get peckish on your trip to Braidwood – or you’re a local who wants to spread your culinary wings – make sure you save an hour or two for a bite in town. Braidwood has cafes, restaurants and providores that put the biggest cities to shame. Here are some of the best.
For more ideas to explore the Treasure Trail – Braidwood, Bungendore & Queanbeyan – see visitqueanbeyanpalerang.com.au.
Original Article published by Michelle Rowe on The RiotACT.