For expediency, there are supermarkets. For proximity, there are corner stores. For quality and uniqueness, there are speciality food retailers. But for ambience, variety, community and TASTE, nothing beats a farmers market.
At one point or another we’ve held stalls at over 50 markets around NSW – from the famous and huge like Eveleigh Farmers Market, to the small and sweet, like Bulli’s Foragers Market. They all have their own charms and challenges – different stalls and stallholders, different themes and trends and many different (and often unusual) locations – all of which combine to make each growers market a unique experience for the visitor.
There are things they all have in common though. These are the reasons we love farmers markets, and will continue to support them as long as we continue to bake beautiful bread.
1) The sense of community
When you know the people you buy your bread from, and the person in line behind you, and the barista at the coffee cart… not enough that you have to go round their house to help them eat their fresh produce, but just enough for a friendly nod or a quick Saturday morning conversation with a like-minded neighbour. It helps us humans to feel connected, which does wonders for our sense of wellbeing. Markets folk also tend to be lovely folk (if we do say so ourselves) and are always up for a chat, a recipe tip or a quick discount if you’re 50 cents short.
2) The surprise factor
This doesn’t float everyone’s boat. Some people love to write a detailed shopping list, go to a store where they’re reasonably convinced they’ll be able to get everything on that list, complete their purchases and go home. But if you like to have an element of surprise in your shopping, to be forced to cook things you’re a bit wary of and to see life as a series of ‘Ready Steady Cook’ episodes (you have beetroot, a tin of lentils and a croissant…. GO!) then shopping at a market is probably your thing.
3) It’s not shopping. It’s an OUTING
Shopping at the farmers market can take all morning. And even then, you may get home and have only bought a coffee and a bunch of rhubarb. But that’s beside the point. Shopping for food at a growers market is an outing, a social excursion, a reason to get up and run a brush through your hair and, at a pinch, it could even be described as exercise. Especially if you’re heading to a city market where you have to park 3km away!
4) Taste tests rule
This one is self-explanatory, and something you almost never get at a supermarket. You don’t have to buy everything you taste test, of course, but it’s nice to be able to try before you buy.
5) Supporting farmers, small producers and good causes
Shopping at markets is usually a locavore activity (eating within a small radius of where you live) because many markets encourage or even insist that only produce grown within the state is sold on site. Many markets also encourage organic food production, and they provide a platform for small producers to get food into the hands of customers without needing to spend a small fortune in retailing their products. Shopping at farmers markets is something you can feel good about doing!