There’s no doubt that Brisbane’s market industry has boomed over the past year or so. From Jan Powers to Boggo Road, we seem to see a new market pop up every few weeks. So what does it take for one market to stand out from the rest?
Passion, perseverance and a fresh perspective are the answer for David Bostock, the self-professed “artistic director” of West End’s brand new “real” farmers’ market, which opened its stalls on Boundary Street for the first time last Sunday. This market doesn’t aim to compete with Jan Power or Davies Park in size and quantity. But what it does have going for it is a commitment to local farmers and to fresh, great quality produce.
The Boundary Street ‘Real’ Farmers Market gathers local farmers from around Queensland and northern New South Wales, giving them a place to share their produce directly with locals from West End and wider Brisbane.
But for David, it’s not just about where the food is coming from, it’s also about what’s in it. “If we were eating foods that didn’t have these chemicals and pesticides that are coming in from overseas, we’d be a lot healthier. What I’ve tried to get is the farmers to sell the fruit that they’ve picked on Tuesday or Wednesday so it still has all the nutrients,” he says.
No stranger to the scene, David has been involved in markets for more than 12 years and has seen a lot of changes in that time. As Brisbane markets grow in size and popularity, market owners have seen the opportunity to make profits soar, jacking up stall prices to a figure unaffordable to the regional farmers who also have to pay for travel costs on top.
What this means is markets dominated by resellers, poorer quality produce for buyers and local farmers left without a place to sell the fruit and vegetables that they devote their time and effort to growing.
That’s why David is avid about offering an alternative to Brisbane’s market-goers and producers. For the first month, farmers will get to set up shop for free, and after that will pay just $55 to cover the cost of staff and site-maintenance, a more manageable price compared to the $150+ they would have to pay elsewhere.
As a producer, Jenny Whittaker was excited to be at her first Brisbane market last Sunday, selling a wonderful range of freshly-picked fruit and vegetables from Killarney and the Granite Belt region, just a couple of hours south-west of Brisbane. For Jenny, who represents a cooperative of local farmers from South-East Queensland, the markets provide a fun and welcoming meeting place for farmers and consumers, and West End was the perfect place to do it. “I think in this particular community there are a lot of savvy consumers and they’re very aware of the health benefits of eating fresh, local produce. It’s lovely to know where your produce has come from, and to get it here straight from the farm is just so much better for you and for your health,” she says.
But although produce is the main focus, the Boundary Street Farmers Markets also have a lot of fun activities for the family, including Old McDonald’s petting zoo, a kid’s jumping castle, and plenty of delicious food stalls where visitors can catch up over brunch and a coffee.
And while still starting small, the Boundary Street Farmers Market expects to gradually grow in size, while still maintaining its strong community roots.
Words by Marian Faa