You just never know what is going happen. I thought I'd go to the Tas Farmgate market in Hobart on Sunday. I really like it a lot more than Salamanca because it only has food and plants. Even though it is not that big, I spent 2 wonderful hours there, finishing off with 6 oysters and a cup of coffee..... there is nothing as refreshing as freshly shucked oysters with a squeeze of lemon. To me, this is what markets are all about.... meeting the people, getting to know their products and coming home with excellent goodies. No tourist junk here.
The first stall I stopped at was Provenance Growers where I met .... oh no, I have forgotten her name... and her mother. Now I must confess that usually I feel disappointment at the uninteresting range at market plant stalls, but not at this one. Oh goodness, I bought so many things, including some saffron bulbs, wasabi seedlings, Japanese lettuce, rare native Tasmanian plants, lemon scented savory and caraway thyme. There were so many other treasures which I will have to go back for another day. The prices were good and plants available in various sizes to suit every pocket. In the photo I am talking with the gorgeous young woman who has the stall..... who I hope will leave a comment and tell me her name again. You can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org . It is worth a trip to Hobart just to visit this stall on a Sunday!
I was so excited with this first stall I did not expect to find any more treasures like it but.... as luck would have it..... EVERY stall was equally as interesting and the people equally as friendly and knowledgeable. Having just bought saffron bulbs, I saw packets of home grown saffron on the Asian vegetables stall. I have never seen this at a market before and am now imagining my acre filled with saffron crocus!
Next was Chris, whose second season of growing vegetable seedlings and selling them singly, is just beginning. I talked to him for ages but sadly I was so absorbed in the conversation I forgot to take photos until this one I took later! Chris also has a great blog called Hobart Kitchen Gardens and it is here that I am learning what to sow when, in southern Tasmania. This bloke has guts..... never having grown from seed before he started this stall!
There is no wastage with Chris's seedlings. You tell him how many of each you want, he expertly removes them from the tray and wraps them in newspaper; this is how it should be. There are 2 sizes and at 25c and 50c you can come home with 10 different seedlings for next to nothing and see which varieties you like. I reckon buying 10 different tomatoes for $5, for example, is a fabulous way to go, and he has done all the hard work of getting them to a manageable size for you. Pot them up for a couple of months before planting them out would be my suggestion.
My bags were already bulging when I came across Ann, from our Home Gardeners Group. I thought she was a customer like me, but then I found her at this stall..... her stall.... and I must say I was incredibly impressed with the range and local nature of the pastes, jams, chutneys etc. I was rather lucky to acquire a jar of mouth-watering lemon curd at a special price! But that's not all, as I went around the rest of the stalls, Ann appeared by my side and introduced me to everyone until my poor head was bursting with names and wonderful stories..... so much so that I could not hold onto all the names, foolishly not having written them down.
I must, however, mention Harley and his intriguing signs that had me first of all wondering if he had a still, then, after a chat, wondering why I had never before had the pleasure of eating roasted cacao beans!
The Royal Criollo cacao beans have been grown for over 2 thousand years in Mexico and their reputation of being the finest is, I can assure you, not over-rated. One solitary bean, roasted by Harley, explodes with ever increasing intensity and flavour until your silence is broken by a soft "wow..... where have I been all my life?" But cacao is really a sideline of Harley's because he buys raw coffee beans which also have a wonderful story..... but that is for another day. Click on the photo to read about the source of the cacao beans.
Marc is from Lester's Nursery and he is a deciduous tree enthusiast. I want to fill part of my acre with magnificent autumn foliage and he is just the man to help me choose and find everything I need. Lester's also sells lots of other plants and Marc writes a nice little newsletter for subscribers.
Next was the Companion Bakery lady who is associated with the Callington Mill at Oatlands. The old wind mill is being refurbished and being used to grind organic, old style grains like spelt and rye etc. I am hoping to be able to have some of these flours to sell in my Garden Shed. The olive sourdough I bought from her is really, really good. And her daughter, Maedi, is putting together a website to help people know when to plant what.... its called Plant Harvest.
There was also the oyster man, the pork products bloke (thanks for the generous and super delicious slice of terrine!), Maddie who writes the excellent Tas farmgate newsletter and the olive oil lady!