3 November 2020

Farmers land on their feet at Burrill's new markets

| Hannah Sparks
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Andrew and Phoebe with their two kids, Billy and Tessa, at Claydon Park.

Andrew and Phoebe with their two kids, Billy and Tessa, at Claydon Park, one of 17 farms selling produce at the new Farmers at Burrill Markets. Photo: Niree Creed.

Retired regional journalist Niree Creed is, with the help of Ulladulla Milton Lions Club, helping farmers in southeast NSW get back on their feet after a challenging year plagued by drought, bushfires, floods and an unprecedented pandemic.

Niree fell in love with farming during her days as a reporter with ABC’s half-hour regional television program, Cross Country.

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During the many years Niree was based in Canberra for work, she was spoilt for choice when it came to local produce on offer at the farmers’ markets that travelled into the city. However, from her more recent home of Bawley Point in the Shoalhaven region of the NSW South Coast, Niree faced a near 100km round trip to the nearest farmers’ market.

Wine pouring into glasses.

The FAB (Farmers at Burrill) Markets will sell local wine from Cupitt’s Estate, Wallaroo Wine and Bawley Vale. Photo: Supplied.

At the time she came up with the idea for Burrill Lake’s new farmers’ market, the drought was biting and soon bushfires and floods would ravage the countryside, followed by the COVID-19 virus that hit the entire country.

“I thought I could do something to help people such as me who want access to more local produce and to help the farmers,” says Niree. “When I started researching, I discovered there are dozens of professional farmers making amazing produce just off the [Princes] Highway.”

Beekeeper handling bees.

Ian Lees started life as an agriculture teacher and now he sells honey and wax products from his bees at Beewise Honey at Bawley Point. Photo: Niree Creed.

The Farmers at Burrill (FAB) Markets kicks off on Friday, 6 November at Lions Park on the edge of Burrill Lake.

With access to open space and numerous barbecues just off the highway, families and nearby workers will be able to grab fresh farm produce and a bite to eat before the weekend begins.

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The market will run every fortnight during daylight saving and offerings include wine from Cupitt’s Estate, Wallaroo Wine and Bawley Vale; cheese from Tilba Real Dairy; seafood direct from local fishers and oyster growers; garlic from Braidwood Garlic Growers; vegetables grown by Tim Cooper just outside of Milton; Shoalhaven Gourmet Mushrooms; vegetable and herb seedlings from Phil Timms; fruit from Martin’s Orchard; ice-cream from Clyde River Berry Farm; meat from Claydon Park, Trent Anderson and Martin’s Ridge Farm; honey and wax products from Beewise Honey; and kelp products from Sea Health.

Sea Health is a family business that sustainably hand-harvests kelp from beaches on the NSW Far South Coast to create cooking and self-care products.

Jo Lane holding kelp.

Jo Lane sustainably hand-harvests kelp from the NSW Far South Coast to make cooking and self-care products. Photo: Supplied.

Owner Jo Lane was a regular at Bermagui Growers’ Market and Moruya Country Market until March when COVID-19 started to spread across the country. The Black Summer bushfires also came within 4km of her property, only 20 minutes from the village of Cobargo, which was engulfed by fire.

As a result, Jo has been limited to online sales for the majority of this year and was unable to harvest the usual amount of kelp her business needs in January.

Jo says she is looking forward to a returned sense of normality by attending Burrill’s new market.

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“I really enjoy markets,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to talk to your customers and people, explain what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and get my own shopping done.”

The market is a chance for 17 commercial farmers – who come from as far south as Central Tilba and as far inland as Braidwood, and who were all impacted by bushfires – to connect.

Andrew and Phoebe are raising their two kids and free-range Berkshire pork on their serene property at Milton. Before hearing about the market, Andrew would send his pork all the way to Picton on the outskirts of Sydney. However, through the market, Andrew met local butcher Trent Andersen who will sell Claydon Park pork at the market, alongside his own Angus beef.

FAB will be officially opened by ABC’s Gardening Australia presenter Costa Georgiadis and Heather Ewart from ABC’s Backroads.

The not-for-profit market will be held every second Friday evening between 5 pm and 7 pm. All the money from the farmers’ fees will go back to Ulladulla Milton Lions Club, which maintains the park.

For more information, visit the Farmers at Burrill Markets website.

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