I love a market. Whether it’s a Farmer’s Market, Craft Market…it doesn’t matter. To me it’s an opportunity to grab the cane basket, throw in an organic sour dough breadstick and some leafy greens and immerse myself in Earth Motherdom.
I have a history with Markets. My family has been in the Fruit and Vegetable business for over ninety years, beginning with my Grandfather being born on a watermelon farm in Sicily and then beginning his own business at the South Melbourne Market when he immigrated to Melbourne. My Grandmother also worked for Pop, as did my Mum and later my Dad, my Uncles, my brothers and me. I have really vivid memories of being woken in the middle of the night, dressing in multi-layered outfits to ward off cold and travelling in the truck to the wholesale market where we would buy our stock, dodge scooters and forklifts and be given new seasons apples by various farmers and stall holders (my brother, Jonathon, was actually nick named ‘Apples’ for his ability to eat so many!). As the dawn was breaking we would be setting up our stall ready for the day’s customers.
Now, Jonathon and I probably weren’t the best workers, we had light fingers, never stopped eating and were fond of a walk around the market but I think my Dad enjoyed the company. On one of our many breaks we’d set off to say hello to Paul who sold cheap Levi’s, Jimmy the Fish or Kenny who made the famous South Melbourne Dim Sims which we would trade a bag of fresh peas for. By lunch time the wrought would be on, trying to sell the last ripe tomatoes “two dollars a kilo” so we could get our wages and go home, collecting a box of salami, cheese, olives and sundried tomatoes from the deli on the way, long before such food was fashionable!
I am lucky now that where I live there is no shortage of markets. We have a Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings where we buy delicious home baked bread and croissants, lemon slice, fresh nuts, jam and flowers. In the summer months we have our community market where you can get a great coffee, a sausage and listen to live local music while you peruse the stalls selling jewellery, art and clothes. In January, we have a night market on Thursdays. This is our favourite thing to do on a balmy summer night …sit, wine in hand, listening to great music and dancing, talking, celebrating with friends.
My Dad and three brothers still work together in the fruit and vegetable business although our market stall no longer stands. It is our family history, it’s in our blood. It’s where we belong. And isn’t that just what we love about a market? The sense of community, of belonging. The experience of talking to someone who has grown, nurtured or made something with love, hearing their stories and sharing their harvest. Maybe I’m just sentimental, maybe not. Hopefully, this feel good, social and often sustainable way of shopping is the way of our future.