Once the only shopping option, community markets have been lost in many of our cities and towns, replaced by the corner shop, supermarkets and, in the 90s, the trend towards online shopping.
But the yearning to create markets has not disappeared, with many communities finding a car park, a schoolyard or even a bush block to hold regular community markets. Your local market is your opportunity to buy organic, buy local, and enjoy your whole shopping experience.
Do you remember how sweet and flavoursome tomatoes tasted when you were a kid? Are the shop-bought varieties you buy now a little bland by comparison? Remember how tangy oranges used to be when you peeled back the rough skin? Supermarket fruit and vegetables often dont make the grade but, if youre lucky, your local market will be the place to find locally grown, organic fruit and vegetables real food in real colour!
St Andrews Market close to Melbourne is nestled into the Australian bush and is a weekly attraction for locals and tourists. The market has been established for 30 years and prides itself on bringing good quality, locally grown, organic produce to the public; and on its chai tent, where market-goers can sip this wonderful Indian beverage in a chilled-out space.
Made from simmering milk with water, tea, ginger, cardamom and other spices, chai is less stimulating than coffee and more fragrant than tea better for you than both and the perfect drink to relax with and take in the markets atmosphere, especially in the cooler months of the year. By the end of the afternoon, the chai tent is the hub of this lively, creative market scene.
Most community markets have limitations on what can be sold, preferring locally handmade and homemade goods, and keeping out goods that are mass produced, imported, or involve lots of plastic. Whilst each market differs, you will generally find that they aim to provide business opportunities for small local businesses and community projects, as well as a colourful and vibrant atmosphere with fabulous food.
Every market-goer has their absolute favourite food. At St Andrews it could be the perfect falafels. Elsewhere, it could be the homemade lemonade, hand-rolled chocolates, or perhaps the best lentil burger in the world. Whatever your choice, you can usually guarantee that the quality will be good and matched by the quantity and price.
Most markets welcome alternative health practitioners to put out their shingle, making for a happy and relaxed crowd, as well as a business opportunity for the practitioner. A shiatsu massage may be the first thing you need when you arrive at the market and leave your week behind you. You are bound to be a much more efficient shopper if you are relaxed on the inside.
Spending half a day at a market is a lovely way to shop. You know that what you are getting is good quality and has been grown, made or prepared with love. You know that what you are paying is basically the production costs, some money for the producer, and a little bit towards hiring the stall.
Some successful community markets even put some of their takings on stall hire back into the community. In this marketplace, everyones a winner.
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