Producer in Focus – Homeleigh Grove

Meet some of our original stallholders, Peter and Caroline O’Clery from Homeleigh Grove. You may recognise them as they’ve been at Market almost every Saturday over the past two decades, selling their award-winning olive oil from Wallaroo. And did you know that Peter is also one of our original founders?  

We sat down with Peter to walk down memory lane and remember those early days and why the Market was first started. 

You are one of the three original Rotary members who founded the Capital Region Farmers Market. Can you tell us how the idea originally came about and how it was started? 

Rotary Club of Hall had just successfully held a one-off market to re-home roses from Old Parliament House to much success, which we were told would never work! David Pentony, then a member of Rotary Club of Hall and a local vegetable producer, was having difficulty selling his veggies, alongside Caroline and myself wondering how we were going to find a source to sell our locally grown and produced olive products. David casually suggested “someone needs to think about a farmers market for Canberra” … and as they say, the rest is history! 

Planning kicked off in 2003 with our first Market held on Saturday 13th March 2004 with 18 stallholders and 1,000 customers. 

The Market was started mainly to provide an opportunity for regional growers in the wider capital region to sell fresh farm produce and to provide an outlet on which to build local agri-business opportunities for farmers and small producers of specialty rural produce.  

A major additional influence was the desire to provide a fresh food outlet for Canberra consumers and particularly to re-introduce seasonality in product, offer real freshness, and to establish a rapport between city and regional dwellers through weekly forays into the markets. 

A further influence was the very nature of the Rotary Club of Hall as the only rural-based Rotary Club within the ACT.  The members span the border and have a strong relationship with the land. They also have extensive business skills and experience. The Club was looking for a new project during 2003, and a grower-member suggested that it explore the weekly Farmers Market concept. 

What have been some of the biggest challenges of the Market over the years? 

Fires, droughts and floods affecting our growers. Finding new genuine ‘farmers’ (as distinct from fairy cake or donut producers) to replace the ‘originals’ as they progressively retire. It is the ‘farmers’ that gives Capital Region Farmers Market its credibility.   

What are you most proud of about the Market? 

That it enables local growers to prosper, be assisted when in dire need or distress, and being able to fund significant community projects in Crookwell, Young, Grenfell, Batlow and other regional hubs. Also, supporting focused rural scholarships at Yanco Agriculture School and Charles Sturt University. 

What have been some of the most memorable Rotary donations or projects for you? 

All the above local projects and the Snowy Hydro helicopter – both added a big dimension to our region. 

As a stallholder, what has the Market meant to you? 

The opportunity to grow our business (the Market represents over 50% of our income), the community and the atmosphere. 

Subscribe to Important NotificationsKeep up to date with market closures, special events and changes to access

Subscribe to receive important notifications about the Market straight to your inbox. We'll keep you updated about market closures, special events and any change to access.