by Oliver Hogue
East Sydney’s sustainable food revolution is here to stay according to organisers of Sydney Sustainable Markets, now in their second year, with the launch of a series of autumn workshops.
Organisers Cathy Wills and Jacqui Briggs say they are pleased with the achievement, but admit it’s taken a lot of effort to get the popular market at Taylor square to a stable position.
“Some said we were mad to start a farmers’ market in the city, but two years later it feels really strong,” Ms Wills says. “The workshops are an opportunity for us to welcome market goers of all ages and encourage them to learn about sustainable living in the city.”
The upcoming workshops include a Giant Swap Party, Treasures at Taylor Square Garage Sale and Cooking Camp for Kids.
“The cooking camp teaches kids about the benefits of locally grown, in-season food and how to cook it. There are big differences between this and the supermarket options they might be used too”, Ms Wills says.
Cathy Wills, a Surry Hills resident, and Jacqui Briggs, who grew up on a farm, created the market to provide local residents with direct access to quality, farm fresh produce and help revive community spirit.
“We’re different to other markets in Sydney, we promote the ideals of the ‘slow food’ movement with produce that is good, clean and fair,” Ms Wills says. “Taylor Square has a flourishing night-time economy but very little in the day. It didn’t take much for City of Sydney to get behind us.”
The market currently has 23 stallholders and won the Lord Mayor’s Sustainability Award at the 2010 Sydney Business Awards.
“We promote sustainable agricultural practices, thereby eliminating the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers and reducing carbon emissions,” Ms Wills says.
“And we don’t allow agents or re-sellers, so people can talk to someone who actually grew or produced the goods. I’d say 95 percent of visitors either walk, cycle or catch public transport to get here.”
Farmer Jordon Bullock, of Kurrawong Organics, near Bathurst has been a regular stallholder since the markets started.
“It’s great that we can interact directly with customers, get their feedback and see them appreciate the produce we provide,” he says.
“The feedback from customers is they love the taste of the fresh produce. They also appreciate that they are in season and produced without chemicals. That’s helped establish a community spirit hard to find at other food markets.”
Darlinghurst resident Ian Graham, who cycles to the market every week, says, “I get nearly all my groceries here and the quality is way better than Coles up the road. Plus there’s the social aspect and opportunity to mix with others, which is non-existent at the supermarket.
Here I can chat directly with the farmers and growers and get educated about the produce I’m consuming. It’s like a little village in the city,” he says.
Nutritionist Arabella Forge says eating locally is beneficial to the environment and one’s health, the local community and farmers directly.
“The average shopping basket of common food items from the supermarket has often well travelled over 70,000 kilometres, which means it is likely to have been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, ” she says.
“Produce from your local farmer’s market will have been picked within 24 hours of your purchase and that means it’s fresher, tastier and better for you. By eating with the seasons, you are also eating foods when they are at their most flavoursome, most abundant and least expensive.”
Sydney Sustainable Markets are at Taylor Square every Saturday from 8am- 1pm.