2018 started off with some devastating news for the market. Two of our long term stall holders were leaving, due to changes in their businesses and not being able to attend anymore.
One was Luke & Ebony Hemler of Deua River Fruit & Veg. Luke is taking on more responsibility for the farm and orchard following his dad’s retirement, which means he’s wound down vegetable production and is focussing instead on their fruit. While they’ll be back seasonally with their fruit, they left a big hole to fill in the vegetable department.
The other was Tilba Real Dairy. This was a major blow to us, as they were our only dairy producer and we miss their products terribly. Lucky for us, we can buy their fabulous milk, yoghurt, cream and cheeses at other outlets around the shire, but we definitely feel their absence at the market.
But it’s not all sad news! Since then, we’ve seen a lot of new faces get on board. When I say “new”, a few of them are familiar and it’s wonderful to see them back after some time of transition and establishing new market gardens.
Firstly, we were happy to welcome Rosie from Cupitt’s Fromagerie with her exquisite cow and goat cheeses. Rosie is, of course, of the famous Cupitt’s Winery in the Shoalhaven, but she is only bringing her cheeses to the market. Cheese is something of a passion of her own.
Nevermind about that, though, because we now have our first wine producer coming along every week!! Beate and Wayne from Yowrie Valley Wines are successfully building a following of wine lovers, selling their Peak Alone Estate wines, made from their own grapes grown on their property west of Cobargo.
We’ve seen quite the influx in the vegetable department. A couple of months ago, we welcomed newcomers Matt and Stephanie Powell of Nelligrow Hydroponics. Mostly producing leafy greens, Matt and Stephanie have a really interesting range including herbs, sprouts and micro greens, as well as some less common salad varieties to add some interest to your salads.
The friendly giant Martin Gribble of Soul Patch has returned to the market with his vegetables. Martin has been getting his new market garden established after finding some land of his own on the Deua. It’s great to see him back every week.
The irrepressible Kat Cathcart (Luna Harvest) and the awesome Sasha Ermichina (Leaf & Petal) have teamed up with a stall next to Martin (note to self: get a photo of Sasha). Both of these women are SAGE Market Gardener Internship alumni and we couldn’t be prouder to see them both still growing and making food and bringing it to market under their own banners. Together with Martin, they’re filling the gap left by Deua River Fruit & Veg and we couldn’t be happier.
Sentimental favourites and part of Eurobodalla’s local agriculture heritage Mary and Peter Connolly are back with their vegetables too. Pete had a hip operation last year and recovery didn’t quite go to plan, so it’s taken a bit longer than expected to get back to the market. Not only that, the neighbour’s cows kept getting in to his market garden, greedily eating the harvest intended for us. But they’re back now (the Connollys, I mean) and we love seeing their faces again.
More recently, Kelly Eastwood (who fell in love with the south coast while working on River Cottage Australia and moved here) has joined, tempting us all with her artisan brioche donuts, made with fillings using local ingredients. This includes a custard made with Tilba Milk oh my gosh. These are wickedly delicious.
And there are more temptations as well. Patricia Coutant, known as Pat’s Little Brittany, is now selling her homemade cakes, also featuring her homegrown ingredients. Keep an eye out for crêpe days when Pat will be selling impossibly light and delicate crêpes that she cooks right in front of you.
Right opposite Pat is The Fix Coffee van. This jolly fellow is Lewis and he’ll make you a fantastic brew with quality Australian beans. You can also grab a tea or a chai or a hot chocolate and probably a few other things I’m not up to speed with. The Fix Coffee team is really making a name for themselves around the shire and are an integral player in getting the new Cultivate Space enterprise going up at Batemans Bay. We love having them along on Tuesdays.
In just the last couple of weeks, another two stall holders have also joined us. Firstly, Richard Lawson of the Figtree Food Company is selling his gourmet products mostly made from produce grown on his property at Mystery Bay. Until recently, Richard’s business was established and well known around Mudgee, but lucky us, he’s moved into our neighbourhood. He has been impatiently waiting until his new garden was ready to start producing so he could bring his range to Moruya.
The other is Deborah Wray. Deborah is a published chef with many years experience running her own stores and cafés centred around organic and local produce. Deborah and her husband Gary will be making and selling treats and ready to eat meals to take home featuring produce available at the market. This stall is so new, I haven’t managed to get a photo for the website yet! We’re very excited at the potential that Deborah’s knowledge and recipes bring to the market for helping customers incorporate more locally grown, seasonal produce into their cooking.
Phew! That’s a lot of new stalls! So if you’ve been thinking the market is looking fuller lately, that’s why. 2017 experienced a bit of a lull in stalls and we had a few yawning gaps along the avenue, but we’re looking great this year and the market has regained its vibrancy.
Now, heading into winter, we’re facing the challenge of attracting customers out into the cold to shop outdoors. It’s easy to think that there’s not much available at the market in winter, but that’s definitely not the case this year. In addition to the dozen stall holders I just mentioned, we still have another 15+ stalls every week selling meat, fish, bread, more vegetables and herbs, fruit, flowers, honey, jams & preserves, pies and a lot more. You can see them all listed on our Meet the Producers page with links to their websites, social media and other contact details (some of the newest stalls aren’t up yet, but I’ll get there!).
In spite of our losses back in January, I think the market has more to offer now than ever before. It’s such a thrill to see the market doing what a farmers market is supposed to do: stimulating economic growth by giving new enterprise direct access to customers.
So make sure you come along to Riverside Park every Tuesday afternoon, bring your bags and baskets (because we don’t supply single-use plastic produce or grocery bags anymore) and fill your kitchen and table with fabulous, local food. And… bring a friend! *** This article first appeared on the Sage Farmers Market website