Monday, 8 February 2016

My Morning at the Market 1

On many a Sunday morning, I have made my way into my favourite fresh food market. The Northey Street City Farm Organic Market has long given me many great reasons to venture out early instead of burrowing down further under warm covers in the often vain hope of sleeping in!

I love strolling from stall to stall, among the bustling crowds, listening to the live music that plays like a backing track to all the conversations and transactions taking place among friends and among producers and their customers. There's the smell of brewing coffee wafting in the air and fresh food being prepared for those waiting in line and eager for breakfast. Then, there is the colourful and inviting array of fresh produce and products that the growers and stallholders showcase on their trestle tables. The folk behind those tables have so much knowledge and enthusiasm for their fruits and vegetables, their breads, their chutneys and sauces and curds, their eggs, their meat, their FOOD!  

Farmers' Markets provide a place for the community to gather and to buy some of their food. In turn, they provide growers with a place from which they can share and sell their produce directly to the consumer. There is time to chat to them about what they grow, where they grow it, how they grow it, when they harvest it, how to cook it, when it's season will end and what will be coming into season next. 

The long, ruby-red stalks of Dave's rhubarb.

Perhaps, you'd like to come with me for a stroll around the stalls and to meet some of these hard-working, dedicated farmers. I'm going to do a little profile of a different stallholder each time I visit the market this year. Get to know them with me!

One generous grower, Ray, gave me some of his time this morning. He and his wife, Samantha, are part of a small co-operative, the Granite Belt Organic Growers, who have their stall at the markets every Sunday morning. Ray and Samantha take turns to run their co-operative's stall so they get a sleep in every second Sunday. (That must feel like a little luxury!)

Ray proudly wearing his apron.

Their stall showcases and sells organic and biodynamic produce from a small number of farms near Stanthorpe, about two and a half hours from this city market. Ruby-red rhubarb stalks, heavy heads of cos lettuce, sweet strawberries and several varieties of one of Stanthorpe's signature crops, apples, were available from Ray and Samantha today, among other things! All of it looked fresh and delicious!

Small and sweet strawberries. 

Fresh, crisp apples.

Bright green cos lettuce and bright pink zinnias.

Sourcing food at a farmers' market is a completely different experience, a closer and much more personal experience, than pushing a trolley around a supermarket with aisle upon aisle of pre-packaged foods. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't use supermarkets because most of us have to for some things. But, for me, there is something that feels really good about being able to directly support a small producer, many of whom are undervalued here in Australia, for the work they do in providing us with fresh food. And, when they place it gently in my basket after they have weighed it and added up the tally, I get the opportunity to say, "Thank you!"

A visit into these markets never fails to gladden my heart. A little bit of that happiness revisits me during the week when I eat or cook with the produce I've brought home in my basket. I'll smile this week when I spy these cheery and colourful zinnia blooms brightening up my kitchen. They somehow managed to find their way into my market basket too!

Blue jugs and zinnias.

I hope you had a great weekend.


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