By Tania Phillips
Fresh local produce straight from the people who grow it – that’s what the Granite Belt Farmers Market brings each Friday morning to the centre of Stanthorpe.
Celebrating their sixth birthday, the markets have a new name (rebranding from Seasonal Feast to Farmers Market) and despite a tough past year of drought and Covid, they are looking forward to a bright future.
Co-op store managers Bridget Ryan and Natasha Jackson said the market aimed to bring the local produce to local people.
“We work as a co-op store – selling on behalf of other farmers – so it’s all local produce,” Bridget explained.
“We have quite a big organic section and value-added produce. We only sell seasonally so whatever is growing in the region we will sell.
“If anyone has got any produce they can come and see us or send us a message on Facebook or something like that.”
The pair are both small scale farmers who decided to become involved in what was then called Seasonal Feast.
“Tash is bigger than me – she’s an egg producer as well as mixed veggies – so just like a market garden size and we wanted to sell our produce locally,” Bridget explained.
“I was involved with the board and Tash came on when the market started just because we wanted to be selling our produce locally.”
Tash said there had been a lot of community support for the market which has been held every Friday morning 8am to 1pm since its inception. It has now become a place to come and buy their seasonal fruit and vegetables, meat, eggs, value added goods and also just meet up with their friends and talk to the producers and farmers.
“People had it as a bit of social hub before Covid and it’s coming back a little bit,” Bridget said.
“People will come into town and they will catch up with someone, either on purpose or accidentally, at the market. It allows people who are by themselves to be out and about.
“We have buskers there and everyone else wants to busk then they can come along and see Tash or myself.”
The market organisers were forced to change their set-up a little to comply with social distancing rules during the Covid lock down period.
“The customers very quickly became aware of social distancing and because we were an essential service like a supermarket or a food provider we were able to continue on. But we did make a few changes which we’ve kept because they worked really well.
“Just mainly how we’ve set up our tents – we’ve opened it up a lot so it allows for more free flow and visibility from the road.
“The drought has been a bit of a challenge because we haven’t had as much produce but we still managed to get through.”