We’ll be at our third Barossa Farmers Market this Saturday. When Chris and I first got down to SA we visited all the farmers markets and this one was our favourite. Which given how many excellent farmers markets there are around Adelaide is a big call. But for me, this one takes the cake. So we think getting to sell our produce there is pretty terrific.
Farmers markets can be different things for different people. For me, they are fundamentally about connecting people with their food. So my criteria for what a good farmers market needs to be is pretty simple – you have to be able to do all your grocery shopping, buying from the people who produce the food. Ideally, those producers would farm in regenerative ways but at least if you can have a chat to them you can make your own mind up about whether you want to put what they sell in your mouth.
Buying all your groceries from local producers means two things in a market. Firstly, there needs to be a diversity of different kinds of stalls so you can get dairy, meat, fruit and veg, bread, eggs, oil and whatever else you need to feed yourself. Secondly, the market needs to be at least every week so you get into a habit of going there and buying up. There are other things which help make a market awesome like also being able to get an excellent breakfast, whether it happens rain, hail or shine and the general feeling of the market (both the stallholders and the market-goers contribute to this in different ways). The price and quality of the produce are also key.
When we first arrived in Watervale, we went to our local monthly producers market. It was great to be there and to chat to lots of people who live in our area but at the end of the day, we didn’t really make any money. Partly, I think this was to do with the fact it was summer and perhaps things were a bit quiet. But mostly I think it was to do with the fact that it’s a monthly market people don’t come down with the intention of doing their weekly grocery shopping.
Our business model was based around selling at a farmers market weekly so we ended up applying for other markets. So now I find myself in the hypocritical position of writing a blog post about connecting people with local food and driving an hour every second week to go to a market in another region…. And long term, we would love to work with the community here to get that amazing weekly market happening. In the short term, we need to make our business viable!
In the short term we also need to keep inspired about what we’re doing. And when I unpack our greens and mushrooms and look around me at the Barossa Farmers Market I feel really proud to be a part of such an amazing group of producers – local producers selling their produce for a fair price direct to local consumers and earning a decent living doing it.
And as we get this business on its feet, I’m looking forward to being a part of the same thing in the Clare Valley.