Stallholder Features: Formaggi Ocello + Moonacres Farm

During 2019, Northside Produce Market celebrates its 20th year of trading. We couldn’t have done it without all of the dedicated North Sydney Community Centre staff and volunteers, our wonderful customers and of course all of our fabulous stallholders. Throughout the year we will feature some of the stallholders so that you can discover a little more of their story.

Stallholder: Carmelo Ocello

Formaggi Ocello began when Carmello and Sogna Ocello by chance met a goat cheese farmer in 2001 travelling from Queensland every week to sell his cheese at a Sydney growers market. Tired of the travelling and wanting to focus on making cheese, he offered the Ocellos his stall. Being incredibly passionate about food, it was very easy for them to sell his fresh goat fromage blanc.  After sometime they travelled overseas to Europe and saw many cheeses not available in Australia.  They returned and started importing Italian cheeses then French, Swiss, English, Irish and Spanish which they sold at their market stalls including Northside Produce Market. In 2009, they opened a shop in Surry Hills. “We always state we started with 1 cheese and now we have over 200 hundred Artisan cheeses from Australia and around the world in our store. Now the only market we attend is Northside.  Our customers are very loyal and adventurous and enjoy trying new cheeses and ‘in season ‘cheeses. The great thing about our stall is you can try before you buy. We have been attending this market for about 18 years and it’s always stayed true to being a great local market with great atmosphere, great clientele and a great offering overall.”

Stallholder: Phil Lavers

Gaining organic certification was always part of the plan for Phil Lavers, who purchased his Fitzroy Falls farm in 1998. “I was living in Tokyo with my family and during that time we had a farm manager and went through the organic certification process” he explains. “We moved onto the farm in 2006 and I’ve been running it ever since.” Along with all the usual vegetables you’d expect, Moonacres Farm grows Fennel flowers, an array of lesser known salad leaves such as Red Elk and Kohlrabi – a vegetable from the cabbage family. “Kohlrabi has a slight hint of radish and a real depth of flavour – it can be eaten raw or cooked, so it has great versatility,” says Phil. “It’s popular with our Northside customers.” In his 13th year at Northside Produce Market, Phil says “we are fortunate to have a very loyal customer base – I can almost set my watch according to when some customers arrive”. Equally rewarding are the relationships Phil and his family have built with their fellow Northside stallholders. “We love working with other food producers – the passion everyone has for what they are doing is infectious” he says. “We are all small entrepreneurs who are excited by food, and that is lovely to be surrounded by.”