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The Powerhouse Farmers Markets – Brisbane

It’s been a fair while since I’ve visited Jan Power’s Farmers Market at The Powerhouse. Mainly because there have been so many more markets that have popped up over the years but also because it’s impossible to get a parking spot in that tiny corner of New Farm. The first market of 2015 saw us re-visiting to check out what’s on offer these days.

Traffic Light Colours 2

This market has been going since 2000 and when it started, it was revolutionary. Heading out on a Saturday morning for a coffee, market breakfast and to buy some good quality produce was unheard of. You probably can’t even imagine or remember what it was like before these markets. Visiting a market has become a part of weekend life, as every person in their gym gear, with their tiny dog on a lead and child on a tricycle can attest. Sure you’re there to buy some goodies but you’re also there to socialise, be entertained and savour weekend treats. Some of the stalls you’ll see at the Jan Power’s Farmers Market you may also see at other markets. It depends how big of an operation the stall holder is running and the days the markets run. You are sure to see stalls and providores that you won’t see elsewhere as well as some of your old faves (for me it’s the hot smoked trout guy). I briefly met Jan who still visits the markets on a regular basis. She remains for me one of the larger than life characters of Brisbane who helped make our city such a liveable place. Jan explained that with a surname of Power, it was only natural they she set up a market at The Powerhouse.

Market Crowd 1

Market Musician

Farmers Markets are great but you need to make sure that the produce and products you’re buying are coming from the farmer, grower, butcher, baker or candlestick maker. There are some markets that allow stall holders who have clearly gone to Rocklea Wholesale Markets and then on sell to customers. There’s nothing wrong with doing this but it’s not from the Farmer is it?

Traffic Light Colours...

Traffic Light Colours…

Happykraut pair

Meet The Farmer
I spent an amusing few minutes chatting to a farmer from Mulgowie, west of Brisbane in the Lockyer Valley. The black volcanic soil and decent rainfalls mean this area is known as the salad bowl of SE Queensland. He had a limited range on offer because basically, that’s what was growing on his farm. I grabbed a bunch of fresh Australian garlic with small, compact bulbs and struck up a conversation. He suggested I choose the garlic that still had the soil on them as they had been pulled from the ground only the day before and were the freshest. He went on to tell me an amusing story about his middle aged son who had cooked the last lot of garlic they’d harvested by leaving it out in the sun for days rather than putting it in the shed. Kids huh? I bet he’ll never live that one down.

Mulgowie Garlic 1

I also asked about the beetroot as I’ve not seen much of it around lately and what I have seen has been expensive. He talked about how many farmers grew beetroot for Golden Circle. Until it was acquired by Heinz and processing was moved offshore to NZ, the Lockyer and Fassifern Valleys produced over 90% of Australia’s beetroot. Many growers have now moved out of fresh beetroot which has meant a gradual increases in pricing. His little beetroots are an old fashioned variety grown from seed acquired from the Netherlands. If left in the ground, they will continue to grow until the size of sweet potatoes. Instead that are plucked from the soil and sold in small lots. This is ideal if you just want one or two to accompany a meal or grate into a salad.

Farmer pair

I asked for a photo but he was wary. He half jokingly asked if I was from the Tax Office. I told him no, no one in the ATO would spend $10 on garlic. This is what a Farmers Market is all about. Being able to talk to the grower, learn more about where and how the produce is grown and perhaps hear a few tall tales or tips.

Speaking of tips… my tip is to leave your car at a ferry terminal and catch the City Cat or cross river ferry over to New Farm Park and wander down to the markets. It will save you lots of hassle and it’s lovely to ride across the river in the breeze as you head home with your beetroot and garlic.

*TIFFIN was was invited to fill her market basket as a media guest of Kath Rose & Associates. ‘Market money’ was provided by Jan Powers Farmers Markets to spend on whatever she wished. All purchases were TIFFIN’s decision.

Powerhouse Farmers MarketsNext Market
119 Lamington Ave
New Farm Qld  4006

Every Saturday (from Feb)
6am – 12pm


15 comments… add one
  • Shannan January 20, 2015, 7:31 pm

    A personal favourite! I will miss catching the ferry from Mowbray Park now that we’ve moved but I will still swing by from time to time.

    • Fiona Ryan January 21, 2015, 8:36 pm

      We use Norman Park – so handy and much easier than trying to find a park!

  • Jan Rhoades January 20, 2015, 7:35 pm

    I love the look of that beetroot. Just as well that farmer didn’t ask the question last time you visited.

    • Fiona Ryan January 21, 2015, 8:37 pm

      The last time I visited was post 2000. You may be surprised to learn that I haven’t worked for the ATO since 1990!

  • Sherry from sherryspickings January 20, 2015, 8:33 pm

    I love this market but I always end up spending way too much! So many great items.

    • Fiona Ryan January 21, 2015, 8:38 pm

      I agree Sherry. I bought lots of things that I really didn’t need but coudn’t help myself…

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook January 21, 2015, 9:08 am

    I love that beetroot guy, and the garlic guy. I love the tomato guy too. And the hot smoked salmon guy – no one does it better than he does. Those beetroots in particular are the best I’ve ever eaten. Interesting comment about the Rocklea resellers – I’ve always found there to be too many of them at the Jan Power Markets (I think one is too many for a Farmers Market, and when I last went to the Powerhouse markets a few weeks ago I counted three very large stalls). When I emailed Jan a few years ago to complain about the guy selling Chinese garlic I had a very rude response. However I am pleased they are about to go weekly as there are many fabulous true farmers there. It’s also good for my new fitness regime as I’m trying to get there early, go for a walk along the river for an hour, then buy my weekly goodies.

    • Fiona Ryan January 22, 2015, 12:49 pm

      I saw that hot smoked salmon in your post and knew that you’d been. It’s divine. I think the Wed Market has many more than the Sat market these days. But you have to keep your eyes peeled. They certainly shouldn’t have sent you a rude letter. I also like the ‘collective’ made up of grey army volunteers who sell the beans and corn from Mulgowie. All profits go to the Fred Hollows Foundation.

      • Mel @ The cook's notebook January 22, 2015, 1:03 pm

        Yeah I was not happy and boycotted for a long time after that! But have mentally moved on 🙂
        didn’t know that about the collective from Mulgowie – will definitely buy from them every time I go now.

  • Michelle January 21, 2015, 9:15 am

    I’ve read about the Happy Sprout happykraut (a bit of a mouthful – no pun intended). All their products sound yum (especially the white kimchi).

    • Fiona Ryan January 21, 2015, 8:40 pm

      Yes, we bought the white and red. (White for Anthony). Great price and you don’t need to worry about weird ferments etc.

  • Elizabeth January 21, 2015, 4:31 pm

    What a wonderful post… apart form the difficulty parking, it really makes me want to go for a drive. I love markets and go to the organic markets at Miami regularly…! It is very satisfying knowing that you are buying from the grower! Thanks for sharing! Liz x

    • Fiona Ryan January 21, 2015, 8:41 pm

      Hi Liz – you can easily drive to Kangaroo Point or Norman Park and get the ferry from there across the river. Parking really is a bugger. The Miami markets sound good. I didn’t know about them.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime January 22, 2015, 1:53 pm

    That’s amazing how long the farmers market has been there. You are so lucky to have a choice of where to go 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan January 24, 2015, 9:25 am

      There are many farmers markets in greater Brisbane as its a big city these days. Some don’t last, some don’t but this is the one that kick started it. She really is a visionary.

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