RACING TO SATURDAY:
Canadian visitors Jay and Molly Paterson, from the Vancouver community of White Rock in British Columbia, on Tuesday joined Kay Walker, Marlene Costello, Wendy Kelly and Beechworth Rotary president Lesley Browne for Melbourne Cup day breakfast at Rotary’s refurbished former Guide hall in Queen Victoria Park ahead of this weekend’s Beechworth Celtic Festival. Rotary takes a leading role in the festival, hosting a major market in the park, raising funds with bacon and egg rolls at the hall, and providing dinner for massed bands’ pipers and drummers and other performers at what will be an inaugural tattoo in Old Beechworth Gaol on Saturday evening. Story: page 7. Celtic Festival feature and program:
IN the modern world, it can be all too easy to lose sight of the everyday pleasures of enjoying healthy, locally produced food.
This is where the region’s farmers’ markets come in.
Run by locals with a fervent interest in food and community, they help the region’s producers sell directly to the consumer.
Those accredited with the Victorian Farmers’ Market Association – which include the markets in Wangaratta, Myrtleford and Wodonga Junction – provide producers with benchmark standards and product knowledge, as well as preventing on-sellers.
Mary Daly is one of the passionate locals behind the Wangaratta Farmers’ Market, which is held in Apex Park and celebrates its third birthday this weekend, and whose stalls contain a range of items, including lamb, beef, trout, seasonal fruits and vegetables, nuts, honey and more, as well as a range of value-added products.
“You’re making that connection with the person that grows your food,” Mary said, recalling how the market began with eight producers and now boasts anywhere up to 40 stall holders, depending on the season.
“We wanted our community to get back in touch with the people who grow their food and to give them the ability to ask the farmer about their food and practices.
“It is important to us that our farmers and local producers have the opportunity to generate a viable income which is then fed back into our community.
“For our community it is important that we promote the value of healthy eating and sustainable primary production.”
Mary said she has “a passion for growing, sourcing, cooking, educating and consuming food cultivated within my family and driven by the enormous and varied produce our region can grow,” and she is also involved in the Community Food For All network.
She praised the work of the market’s organising committee and volunteer base, and said the event has become a community hub.
Mary said people are more interested in knowing where there food comes from, and how it’s grown, as well as becoming more committed to sustainability by purchasing local produce and reducing food waste.
“One of the really important issues we face in our society and our community is food access, food waste and food education,” she said.
“A lot of food waste is around not just excess availability but the current demands for ‘Perfect’ looking food.
“We are working towards addressing these issues every month with food demonstrations, cooking in the market, how to use your left-overs and how that crooked carrot cooks up and tastes just like a carrot should.”
Franca Norris has been with the Myrtleford Farmers’ Market since its beginning and has a deep interest in all aspects of farming, farmers, and their social connections with those buying their product.
“I endeavour to be the bridge for our locals and visitors, to support and have a relationship with the primary producer and specialty stallholders who work so hard in bringing quality, local, fresh and seasonal products to the communities in which they live,” she said.
“My Italian upbringing was very traditional, simple, seasonal and sustainable and has continued to be so.
“We strive to share this type of healthy eating/lifestyle through our cooking demonstrations using seasonal produce at the market.”
The Myrtleford market sees products sold from across the Ovens Valley, including fruits, cheeses, meats, nuts, seeds, freshwater fish, eggs, wines, and much more.
Franca said markets such as these are vital to smaller producers and communities.
“Small communities really depend on local dollars to be put back into circulation to keep the next generation moving forward with work and opportunities,” she said.
“Farmers markets are important for the farmer to reveal the rewards of their hard work to the community, and an opportunity for the community to appreciate and support that local business.”
Boyd Collins, from the Beechworth Farmers’ Market, said the town’s mar- ket has been going several years and regularly sees hundreds of people through the gates, and stallholders who come from as far afield as Dookie, Moyhu and Whitfield to sell meat, vegetables, fruit and more.
“We’ve got a nice little atmosphere here,” he said, adding that for small producers, it’s a “stepping stone” to get into the market.
Beechworth Farmers Market is on the first Saturday of the month, while Wangaratta Farmers Market is held on the second Saturday of the month, Myrtleford Farmers Market is on the fourth Saturday of each month, and the Wodonga Junction Farmers Market is held on the first and third Saturday of the month.
LOCAL FOOD: Sally Colson (Warby Range Citrus), Jenny Anderson (Rutherglen Lamb, seen here with ‘Shorn’ the lamb), Franca Norris (Myrtleford Farmers Market) and Mary Daly (Wangaratta Farmers Market) are among the passionate locals involved – or selling goods – at local farmers markets in the North East.
DIRECT TO CONSUMER: Many flock to the Myrtleford Farmers Market each month, including Gary Williamson and Kevin Tyrell.