So much inspiration lies in my little, suburban vegetable garden. Although it is far from a great extravagance of variety at the moment, rather a delightful sea of greens. Lush clusters of silver beet, rainbow chard and leafy green lettuces, share beds with masses of peppery rocket leaves, crowned with delicate yellow flowers, (as the warm weather sees them bolt to seed). A very wild dance of nasturtium plants, spreads at an alarming pace down the path, whilst still the remnants of last summer's basil crop, remarkably lingers on. On the whole I'm a self-taught gardener, learning by trial and error and simply having a go. Flowing with the gift of plants self-seeding, either from piles of compost or a random, rogue seed, that chooses to germinate in the strangest of places. Admittedly, some of my healthiest harvests of tomatoes, basil, chillies and rocket over the years, have resulted from a sneaky seed, popping it's head up in a crack in the pathway of the patch, and then flourishing.
I've found growing a little of your own food fosters a deep connection with the seasons and creates such a satisfying appreciation for the harvest. I find myself more aware of the weather patterns, valuing the combination of radiant sunshine and soaking rain, on my humble collection of plants. I know well that it is these that bring true growth of my food, without me doing much at all. The joy of being able to walk a short distance from my kitchen door, to gather fresh herbs, salad leaves or a generous handful of silver beet to throw in the pan for breakfast greens, is hard to beat.
This small experience in growing just a little of the food that we share at our table, leaves me in awe of our Australian farmers and growers, who labour to produce food for the masses. My parents were both born and raised in regional parts of NSW and then each moved to the city, where they met, married and made a family. Maybe those rural genes lie dormant in my DNA, maybe that's why I feel so at home at the farmers market chatting to the unembellished characters you find there. The strong and undisguised hands of one who has worked the land, the mix of humility and vulnerability they exude. The abundant, unrefined produce they display for sale, always hopeful it will sell and they will not have laboured in vain. Is it only me that feels their plight and wants to cheer them on? Shouldn't we want them to leave the market each week, feeling that they and their produce are indeed appreciated?
At Carriageworks Farmers Market (near Redfern), every Saturday morning, a unique experience exists, where farmers, growers, producers, artisans and chefs, gather to sell produce, either grown or raised on their farms or hand-made within the NSW/ACT region, direct to the customer. It is a city-dwellers opportunity to interact with these rural heroes and integral artisans, and taste and see their weekly harvest. You are guaranteed to leave laden, with fresh produce and hand-made goods, and thoroughly inspired to make this market or the farmers market most local to you, a regular part of your weekly shopping. One of my great joys is to take tours to the market, introduce people like you to the farmers and growers, share breakfast together and chat about how best to utilise and cook the produce you buy.
Now that the weather is warming up, I'll be taking two market tours to Carriageworks, before Christmas and the silly season is upon us! All the dates, details of tours and how to book are here
I'd love you to join me x j