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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Every Saturday (from Feb)
6am – 12pm