Farmers’ markets are so colourful and such fun. They are now an integral part of many people’s lives as they provide fresh, local farm produce. In Australia there are now over a hundred farmers’ markets, with the first officially trading in 1999. To locate the farmer’s market in your area, there is the Australian Framers’ Markets Association which publishes an annual guidebook on the markets. More markets appear each year in response to our preference for local, fresh, organic farm produce.
Our local Victorian Farmers’ Markets
In Melbourne, there is our own very active Farmers’ Market scene, with preferences for fresh, local produce, and with concern for environmental and ‘food miles’ issues, have enthusiastically embraced the local farmers’ markets. Nature intended us to eat a variety of foods – foods in season – so we have the correct balance of nutrients and do not eat too much of any one thing.
At the markets pleasure is gained from talking to the farmers and artisans who actually grew the vegetables, raised the chickens, made the preserves and condiments, baked the bread, made the cheese….it provides town and city dwellers with a much-needed connection to the land and the source of our food.
As Michael Pollan says in his book ‘In defence of food: the myth of nutrition and the pleasures of eating” (2008), food is about enjoyment, not just the eating part but the shopping, preparation and the cooking.
Each week the Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association emails out its weekly bulletin listing the current seasonal fruits and vegetables available in the markets over the weekend, and where the markets are located. The newsletter also includes some information on some of the producers and usually a recipe made by a producer using her produce.
You may like to register and receive this useful and informative newsletter. Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association supports and promotes authentic farmers’ markets throughout Victoria, so a good one to support. Register at www.vicfarmersmarkets.org.au
These authentic farmers’ markets operate regularly at various locations around Melbourne and Victoria. They provide a perfect environment for farmers and food producers to sell their farm origin product and their associated value added primary products directly to us customers.
My local market is Veg Out St Kilda Farmer’s Market and is held on the first and third Saturday of each month.
The Slow Food Market is held on the last Saturday each month at the Abbotsford Convent from 8-1pm.
When we are in Queensland, each Saturday morning we visit our local Yandina Farmers’ market, 10 minutes from us in Kureelpa. We buy all our fruit and vegetables, local, fresh honey, locally caught seafood from the fisherman, cheeses, herbs and spices, home-made breads, plus plants for the garden, sometimes a second-hand cookbook, kitchenware stuff, like depression glass jugs or bowls, DVDs and CDs for Michael’s enormous Ipad music collection. It is an old-fashioned, eclectic market selling everything you can imagine.
The French Farmers’ Market scene
Every village in France has their market day each week, when farmers and local producers bring their harvests to town to sell. They chat happily about their product, its growing or method of production and willingly give cooking tips and recipes on how to achieve the best results. Food is a central part of French family life – the midday two hour shut down whilst everyone goes home to lunch is part of the tradition in the country, and the French insist on maintaining these traditions.
We have shopped at many of these markets – in Rue Moufftard and Porte de la Villette in Paris, at Joigny and Beaune in Burgundy, Portiragnes, on the Canal du Midi, Cassis, Nice, Vaison la Romaine and Isle sur La Sorgue in Provence, Sarlat and St. Cyprien in the Dordogne, Saumur, Thouas and Le Puy Notre Dame in the Loire – relishing the countless varieties of charcuterie, cheeses, breads, berries, figs, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, zucchinis, artichokes, greens – there is something divine about the French thin green bean!
The most interesting farmers’ market we visited was in the Loire, near the tiny village of Le Puy Notre Dame, where the produce is available on advance order only. The farmers require orders for their produce up to three months prior to delivery. You place the order, directly with the farmer for exactly what you require, you pay on order and on the market evening – Thursdays from 4.30 until 6.30pm, at a small square in the town, the farmers deliver their goods, all beautifully presented, packed and labelled. There is no wastage – they produce what is required, they are paid in advance and so everyone is a winner. The buyer is getting the most delicious, freshest food – eggs, superb fresh butter made in pretty moulds and wrapped in special waxed paper, honey fresh from the bee-keeper, cheeses, the meat is butchered to order, vegetables….all completely seasonal and vibrantly fresh. The deliveries are made from the boot of the car or from the truck – no frills such as stalls!
Berries are usually in season whilst we are in France, and so the markets are full of the beautiful reds and crimsons of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. These berries are so sweet and delicious to eat, without any additions.
For a fresh and simple dessert, splash sparkling white, some Framboise or Cassis liqueur over the berries and leave to macerate for an hour or two, then serve with homemade ice cream and a langue du chat biscuit. This is a lovely dessert, especially in our hot summers.
On the Sunshine Coast where, for many years I operated my On the Ridge cooking school, there is also a very active and vibrant farmers’ market scene with over ten markets happening each week. The famous Noosa Farmers’ Market operates every Sunday morning and offers sensational food to the masses that patronise it each week. Our local ‘Regional Foodie’, Petra Frieser, wrote and published Shane Stanely’s Noosa Farmers’ Market, with delicious, mouth-watering recipes and great photos of its’ succulent produce.
One of our summer cooking class favourites is Soupe de fraises au vin rouge – Strawberries in red wine – cooked with spices in red wine, served at room temperature with vanilla ice cream and langue du chats. You will find these recipes in our dessert recipe section on the website.
Part of this article, ‘Market day – every day’, was originally published in Noosa Hinterliving October 2009.