25/11/2010 - 00:00

From farm to fork

25/11/2010 - 00:00

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Since opening in 2009, the Kalamunda Farmers’ Market has capitalised on a growing trend to seasonal produce. Aimée Sargent reports.

From farm to fork

EARLY morning weekend risers across the city may have noticed a growing number of people wheeling shopping carts around the suburbs, loaded with fresh produce.

Behind this phenomenon is the farmers’ market – a community based gathering of local and statewide producers who sell what they grow or make directly to the public.

Kalamunda Farmers’ Market manager Steve Harrup says the increase in market popularity can be attributed to the simple fact that people want better food, with a focus on seasonal produce.

“This is happening around the world, people are recognising the fact that they want to eat healthier, fresher food,” Mr Harrup says.

“People know they can buy flowers from our markets and two weeks later they will still be fresh; and all of the fruit and vegetables will still be fresh.”

When the market opened in mid-2009, the 22 stallholders ran out of produce by 10am. Mr Harrup says there is now an average 42 stalls each week selling to a regular customer base of 2,300 people.

“Originally we wanted to be able to help a lot of the smaller producers in the hills area, but we have had to become a Western Australian market because we need things like fish, so we have things like trout from Mount Barker, cheese from down south and blueberries from Collie,” he says.

Mr Harrup told Gusto the proceeds from sales go directly into the pockets of the growers, while the public benefits from being able to buy fresh produce that has not been in cold storage for months.

There are currently 14 farmers’ markets held around the state each weekend, including four in the metro area – Subiaco, Mt Claremont, Manning and Perth City Farm, the last of which is exclusive to certified organic and biodynamic stallholders.

Kalamunda Farmers’ Markets was a finalist in the Specialised Tourism Services category at this year’s WA Tourism Awards and stallholder Sonia Zlarich, who has been selling organic bread at the markets since it opened, was recently recognised at the Kalamunda Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards as the ‘best stallholder’.

Ms Zlarich says more people are seeking out seasonal food and are increasingly trying to sidestep the use of preservatives and other potentially harmful processing methods.

A textile designer during the week, Ms Zlarich and her partner bake through the night on Friday, then front up to the Mt Claremont Market on Saturday, and Kalamunda on Sunday. She believes the markets provide a better alternative to the major supermarkets.

“People talk to each other and everyone is friendly – kids run around, people bring their dogs, there are buskers who are genuinely talented, there is a really nice atmosphere,” Ms Zlarich says.

“You get to know the stall holders, whereas at a supermarket, generally no-one takes any notice of each other.”

Ms Zlarich says there’s more to being a stallholder than simply setting up a trestle table.

“Stallholders needs to build the business up and take pride in their set up – we started baking 100 loaves a week, and now average 180-200 loaves.

“What’s encouraging is that 75 per cent of our sales are repeat customers.”

Mr Harrup says not only can people talk to the stallholders, they can sample the produce and try before they buy.

“We have a stall that sells oranges and you can actually see their orange juice being squeezed – it doesn’t get much fresher than that,” he says.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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