Let’s buy a hobby farm and grow everything we want to eat! How wonderful will it be for the children to have a hands on understanding of where their good comes from.

Sounds like an awesome plan, doesn’t it? Depending on who you are and what your experience is, you’ll either be swept up with our romantic notion of becoming our own version of the Gourmet Farmer/River Cottage… or you’ll be aware of how unrealistic that ideal is, given we both work full time (and not on our farm).

Tomatoes, still on the vine, sit on top of each other, neatly stacked. Behind them, just out of focus, you can see lake and corn.So, in the year since we’ve been on our slice of rural paradise, we’ve had to make a few conpromises. We still consider the need for our children to understand where their food comes from a priority… But while we have established our orchard, the vegetable garden has been placed on the back burner. Instead we’ve discovered a fantastic grocer who places the same importance as we do on good quality produce. Our children are still learning about seasonal produce and how great fresh fruit and vegetables are, just not from our own vegetable patch. And as we wander through the vast array of fruit and vegetables on offer, the questions flow from my children. Many of which I can answer, and then there are those I can’t. So I thought I’d reach out to our favourite grocer and see if they could answer them for me. Lucky for us, they obliged!

Who is our grocer of choice? Tom’s Superfruits Superstore at Belconen Markets. Tom’s Superfruits is a family business owned by Sal Jugovac and has been operating at the Belconnen markets since 1997. Tom’s Superfruits not only supplies to cafes and restaurants, but also to local schools. They are even affiliated with the ACT Government Fresh Tastes program, which promotes & teaches healthy eating. Tom’s Superfruits offer discounts to participating schools & loyalty cards to parents to encourage a healthy lifestyle. How awesome is that! Isn’t it wonderful when you discover these things about your favourite fruit and vegetable shop – they get just that little bit more awesome.

The front of the store can be seen from across the oranges stacked on each other.

We chatted to Michael Frugtneit, who is one of the managers, and he was kind enough to answer our questions.

Q. How did you start in fruit & veg?
A. As a child I would accompany my parents to the markets on the weekends. I really enjoyed the market vibe & wanted to be a part of it. When I turned 14, I got a job at Tom’s and I haven’t looked back.

Q. My son wants to know how you choose the fruit you sell?
A.  The majority of fruit & veg gets purchased from the Sydney markets through agents. Fruit & veg is very hands on so the best way to choose what we sell is to look/touch/smell & taste the products via the Sydney markets.

My son is standing on his tiptoes, at 3years old he is just tall enough to grab one of the Red Pink Lady Apples from the stack of neatly placed apples.Q. Similar to the above, my daughter wants to know why she can’t buy mangoes all year round.
A. Aussie mangoes are a seasonal fruit which runs through the warmer months of the year. The first pick starts in spring from the Northern Territory & the last of the mangoes coming from South Australia finish in autumn. There is often imported mangoes available in the off season for those that can’t live without, but I prefer to eat seasonal myself.

My daughter has her head tipped to the side as she contemplates which bulb or garlic to buy. Beside her is a mass of red Spanish onions, and on the shelf above her lie neat rows of spring onions

My daughter and I are both BIG fans of garlic!

Q. My daughter would like to know how you discover some of the local/regional companies you have? (You have our favourite Long Paddock Eggs!)

A. Over the years we have built a good reputation for supporting some fantastic local products / produce that we a really fortunate to have in our store. Word of mouth is the best way but generally suppliers will come to us offering their products/ produce.

Looking over the bagged onions out to the store.

What impresses me most, apart from the good quality produce, is the staff at Tom’s. When I shop it’s usually just me and the kids. Organised chaos would be describing us politely. The staff are fantastic. When I’ve missed a beat, I’ve turned around to see the staff chatting to my daughter and helping her grab the bunch of bananas she wants, or last week one of the staff handed my son a slice of apple to try (which also put an end to his tantrum). How nice are they! And given my ideals of my children knowing about the food they eat, what I like most is that the staff are happy to answer my children’s questions about the different fruit and vegetables. One kind lady even took the time to help my daughter understand how to tell a rockmelon from pumpkin, because apparenty that confuses my five year old!Rows and rows of fresh baked bread and tubs of honey!

This post isn’t sponsored. We just had some curious questions and thought we should write about what we found out. And because Tom’s Superfruits (and Michael, their manager) is so awesome, we thought we’d let you know about them too! However, I have entered this post in the Sydney Markets Fresh Awards. So fingers crossed for that! You can check out the other competition enteries by searching #thefreshawards (and I’ll keep you updated on our progress!)

Red and green apples arranged in rows to display their glory

Written by Nadia

13 Comments

Julia Sit

It has just occurred to me that my 5yo can’t name a lot of fruit and veggies because I don’t take him shopping (so much easier without)! This will make me rethink this as I agree it’s so important they understand about the food they eat!

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Nadia

It is so much easier without them! I try make a game of it (to make it a little easier) where they have to find the vegetables for them – we see who can spot the fruit/vegetable first. For some reason they love this ‘game’! Although there are tantrums if one child spots more than the other… you can never win!

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Kathryn

The produce looks so fresh! You are lucky to have such a beautiful fruit and veg shop with employees who care about their customers, know their produce and take the time to chat!

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Nadia

We are so lucky. But I also think it’s a little reflective of Canberra. Most shopkeepers in Canberra are really lovely. The upside of Canberra being ‘a big country town’… although when Canberra is called that I don’t think it’s meant to be a compliment!

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Beck @ Golden Pudding

great post Nadia! we often shop there too, and my kids always like to check out the sample fruit slices and they’re now big enough that they can reliably grab a pumpkin 😉

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Nadia

Thanks Beck! Isn’t it such a great shop. Wow – they have big muscles to wrangle a pumpkin!

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Lisa

Love this! We started to take the kids to the farmers markets in the past 12 months and they love it. They enjoy seeing fresh produce and getting the chance to learn about the different seasonal fruits and vegetables.

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Nadia

Do yours have tantrums too when they can’t get the fruit they want because it’s not in season? That’s always our dilemma. Love the farmer’s market too!

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Gary Lum

Great post, Nadia. I’m such a mango snob having grown up with a Kensington in the backyard in Brisbane and then spending 12 years in Darwin. I’ll only eat Kensington mangos grown in the NT or Queensland. Nothing else tastes as good.

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Nadia

Thanks Gary! Nothing wrong with being a mango snob. When you’ve had the best – you can’t go back!

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