4 Feb 2013
bellerive farmers market + bream creek farmers market
The first could be classed as my 'local', the Farm Gate Market Bellerive on Hobart's eastern shore. This has only been running since mid-December, and is organised by the same people behind the successful Hobart CBD one held on Sundays.
I instantly loved this one, held on Bellerive's Boardwalk, with its pretty views of the bay and the boats docked in the marina bobbing on the water. There were probably less than a dozen stalls, but this only added to its charm; in fact, it reminded me of small neighbourhood markets I'd seen in Europe. As well as cider, vegan munchies, cheese and coffee stalls, there were beautiful, colourful stalls bursting with home-garden-style cut flowers, freshly dug spuds of many varieties, free range eggs, verdant micro-herbs, and vegies gleaming in every hue of the rainbow. The biggest cherries I've seen in a long time, and dark, almost ruby-coloured moor park apricots (the best, best variety). A woman heaved away with a tray - off to make jam, she said when I remarked on her bounty; she only hoped she had enough jars at home.
I walked away with a bag of green beans, bright yellow patty-pan squash, some dutch cream potatoes, and a big fat organic head of garlic from a lady from Murdunna, down the Tasman Peninsula; the fire miraculously skirted around her garlic field.
I also left with a lovely cosy feeling from chatting briefly but wonderfully to the garlic seller, the apricot buyer, the lady selling naked lady bulbs. Exchanges like that, I feel, make shopping for your produce enjoyable; none of the sterility of supermarket transactions.
On Sunday I was at my parents' place, and we ambled along to the Bream Creeek Farmers Market, held in the picturesque rural valley of Bream Creek. This one seemed bigger than the Bellerive market, and there were a lot of stalls selling cakes, jams, pickles and other food to eat there, perched on the fence skirting the showgrounds, drinking a coffee or freshly-squeezed juice, or take home for your lunch. Lots of cherries and apricots and potatoes and wine (there are a number of vineyards in the area).
The other difference was, it seemed, that everyone knew everyone. My parents stopped and chatted to many friends (and I got to put faces to names). As it was the first market held since the January fires, you could sense the community coming together for a positive, relaxed occasion.
The other highlight was meeting Tino from Gardening Australia, who was invited by the local neighbourhood centre. He talked about what people could do to help their fire-ravaged gardens recover. He was full of good advice and a real joie de vivre - I said to mum later that you got the sense he toned down his happy exuberance for the TV cameras! He was so happy and friendly.
The great thing is that Tino will be returning to the neighbourhood centre this week to meet with the Dunalley gardening club (of which my parents are members) to help them again. This is part of a wonderful program the centre is organising that will see other experts visit and advice peopel how they can fix their soil or save their fruit trees. Events like that, my mum said, are giving people hope and a sense of moving forward.
Knowing Tino was going to be at the Bream Creek market, I was rather forward when we spotted him and said hello - and invited him down to visit mum and dad's and come and see, firsthand, their baked blackened soil - and bring along the Gardening Australia TV crew, too! (I had warned mum I would do this). He seemed really enthusiastic about the idea, so I'll keep you posted.
Anyway, back to the topic ... I'm a farmers market convert. If I can't grow it myself, it's lovely to get it freshly dug or picked, and to meet the person who's grown it. I can see why, in our busy modern disconnected urban lives, farmers markets are so welcome. It's more than just the fresh and beautiful produce you take home - it's the cosy glow, as well.
Do you do farmers markets?