27 March 2024

Getting Goulburn people together over fresh produce

| John Thistleton
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man and woman at fresh produce market

Kevin and Kristine Boardman with some of their produce at the Goulburn Farmers Market. Photos: John Thistleton.

Goulburn Farmers Market founder Rita Warleigh has completed a six-month trial of the locally grown venture convinced it can become a permanent community asset.

Rita’s vision to create a community vibe among stallholders, good coffee, and small workshops on how to grow food, beekeeping and making compost has become a reality.

Regular vendors are coming from Dalton, the western side of Crookwell, Taralga, Tarago, Braidwood, Moss Vale and Goulburn.

The next Goulburn Farmers Market, on Saturday, 27 April, will be held in Montague Street, between Belmore Park and the Court House, because the regular venue, the Peden Pavilion, is unavailable. The markets will revert to Peden Pavilion at the Goulburn Recreation Ground after April for the remainder of the year.

Helped by International Volunteers for Peace and local volunteers, Rita aims to improve the markets. Her team comprises Mandy Gray, Gayle Langston, Penny Ackery, Alexandra Dunwoodie and Carol Baghdad.

“Behind the scenes are David Hessey doing our website and bookings, and Sophia Nicolas on social media,” Rita said.

Sophia is moving on and the team is looking for a replacement. Meanwhile, work to improve the markets continues.

“I’ve been to Adelaide, so of course I visited the Adelaide Farmers Market and spent two and a half hours talking to customers, vendors, management and volunteers and got more ideas,” Rita said.

She wants to build up the customer base from the 500 or so people now regularly attending.

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Stallholders are passionate about what they are producing. Kristine Boardman from Narrawa, 25 kilometres west of Crookwell on the Boorowa Road, believes she offers better value for money than supermarkets.

“We went into a supermarket the other day and I nearly died when I saw the price of silverbeet, $5 or $6 a bunch and looking like it was going limp,” Kristine said.

She was selling hers for $3 a bunch, and bunches of beetroot for $3, zucchini and squash for $3, lettuce for $3 and corn for $2 a cob.

Originally from Camden, Kristine and her husband, Kevin, are on 32 acres (13 hectares), where she tends to her garden plots and he plays with his old cars.

“It’s a little retirement project for me,” Kristine said.

man with bottle of olive oil at fresh produce market

Geoff Kent is happy his basalt soil on rock near Goulburn is ideal for cold-climate olives.

The Goulburn Group and Goulburn Community Gardens combined for a stall on Saturday, and volunteer Roslyn Thompson was selling potatoes, rhubarb, zucchini, warrigal greens and small bags of lavender reeking of the old-world perennial.

She had sold out of chicory and last month sold out of everything except tomatoes. The money is ploughed back into the gardens near the Wesley Centre.

Meanwhile, Geoff Kent, of Laurel Brae Olive Estate on the Gurrundah Road, on the western extremities of Goulburn, was educating his customers on the qualities of cold-climate oil, which he sells in bulk to a shop in Braidwood and at markets in Canberra, Mollymook and Laggan, as well as Goulburn.

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Helping him connect with customers is his curious little French bulldog, Louie.

“He is my official greeter. They all know his name, but not my name,” Geoff said with a smile.

An earthmoving contractor and firewood merchant, Geoff planted his olive trees 24 years ago in basalt soil and has 1700 producing trees.

“I don’t irrigate, they are dryland olives, you just have to be lucky with the soil you are growing in,” he said. “There’s very little topsoil and rock, that’s how they like it in the Mediterranean.”

Geoff does not filter the oil and it is gravity-settled.

“I can’t have it certified as organic because my neighbour uses chemicals,” he said.

After Anzac Day he will bring out his tractor and mechanical shaker and begin harvest.

woman with potatoes at fresh produce market

Goulburn Community Market grower Roslyn Thompson sells out of her produce at the farmers market.

The homegrown stories Geoff, Roslyn and Kristine are sharing are proving a strong point of difference for the fledgling market showing so much promise of things to come.

If your committee would like to take over running the Goulburn Farmers Market, go to this link for contact details. Organisers also welcome volunteers.

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