Prospect Farmers Market is very appropriately described as a village style market. I first visited last Thursday, which was one of those glorious autumn afternoons of brilliant sunshine that Adelaide does so well – perfect for a spot of market browsing and the perfect spot to be for both stallholders and shoppers. The market is situated in the Prospect Council carpark and the leafy Vine Street courtyard plaza. In the dappled shade of the spreading plane trees, you could just about imagine yourself somewhere in Provence, except that here you don’t have to struggle with your rusty French.
The Prospect market, which began on 24th October 2013, is an offshoot of the Adelaide Farmers Market and is the first mid-week farmers market in South Australia. It runs every Thursday from 3.00pm to 7.00pm. Exemplifying the traditional farmers market concept, it provides a place for farmers and producers to sell direct to the community. Not only does this introduce consumers to South Australian produce they may never have tried before, it’s a great way to stock up on fresh, seasonal products from local suppliers. What I love about farmers markets is that everyone is friendly, happy to chat about what they’re selling or buying, help out with information and advice and the whole atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. Because the Prospect market is small, the stalls and produce are easily accessible, you can take your time and you’re very likely to end up chatting to the person next to you as you inspect the goods.
There are around 30 stallholders who set up regularly at Prospect, representing food producers from Kangaroo Island, Virginia, McLaren Vale and various other places around South Australia. Products range across the board from fresh fruit and vegetables, lamb, breads and pastries, wine, dried fruits and even edible plants. In a way it’s a bit of a microcosm of the Adelaide Farmers Market held at Wayville on Sundays.
Arriving hungry is a really good idea, because there’s lots to try. I munched on crisp new season apples from The Wild Apple, nibbled a succulent chunk of dried pear from Darling Street Dried Fruits, sipped some freshly squeezed orange juice from DJ Garden Fresh Citrus (a great refresher on a warm afternoon), tasted some flavoursome breads from Boulangerie 113, sampled some great McLaren Vale wines from Sabella Wines and made an absolute pig of myself at the Hughsli stall (more about that below).
I would have tried more but being someone whose tries are inevitably followed by buys and having ended up with a bulging bag of goodies after only a very short time, I decided to leave the rest for another day.
Two producers I will definitely be patronising again are Sabella Wines and Hughsli. As well as being very knowledgeable about the wines, the charming lady at the Sabella stall is a wonderful ambassador for the product, and ensured that everyone who paused to look at the display was enticed into trying something. Sabella is a McLaren Vale winery owned by Joe Petrucci who originally purchased his vineyard in the 1970s. He produces both red and white, his 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon notable for having won an award for best wine exported from Australia in 2009. The Sabella wines all carry the distinctive logo of the Statue of Abundance, which could well epitomise the region from which they come. I particularly enjoyed their 2011 Moscato, which was crisp and fruity, but because they don’t add sugar to it, not syrupy as some brands of that variety can be. Sabella supplies wine to numerous metropolitan and regional SA restaurants, so if you come across it, it’s definitely worth a try.
What first caught my eye at the Hughsli stall was the amazing array and variety of goods on display. Hughsli (which takes its name from its founder Hugh Flint) produces a range of top quality products including cereals, nuts, snack foods, dried fruits, jams, chutneys, dips, cakes and pastries. Basically, anything you’d expect to find in a specialty food store, they have it.
Cereals were the foundation of the enterprise when in 2011 Hugh began making a toasted cereal at home using hand-selected, fresh, organic ingredients and sold it to a local cafe (pretty cute concept – Hughsli Muesli!). It’s gone ahead rapidly from that beginning and their “essentials” and “seasonal” ranges are now sold at many farmers markets across the State as well as selected retail outlets. Being addicted to anything nutty and crunchy, I fell for their smoked almonds and “Ultimate Scroggin” (on which I’m stuffing myself as I write) – a blend of lemon myrtle roasted macadamias and almonds combined with chunks of Bar Ups (fruit and nut bars), dried pears and sunflower kernels. They call it the ultimate snack. Sadly for me it’s the ultimate addiction.
The idea behind starting up a mid-week market was to provide more opportunity for families who find it difficult to get to a regional weekend market or the showground on Sundays. Being open from 3.00pm to 7.00pm gives time for mothers to do a quick shop before picking up children from school, or people to call in on their way home from work. Since October around 400 people a week have been getting along, a reasonable attendance but below the anticipated target figure of 600. The market organisers are keen to boost attendance and in an attempt to do that, various discounts and more fresh produce will be offered. It would be disappointing to see such a worthwhile initiative founder through lack of support, so let’s all do our bit and get behind it. You could pop in, grab a coffee and stock up on something special for dinner, or, even better, combine a market visit with late night shopping, a bite to eat and a drink at one of the quirky little restaurants and cafes that have sprung up along Prospect Road.
Value added is a glib phrase that gets tossed around a lot these days. What it means in terms of farmers markets is that the basic exchange of cash for goods is taken to another level. You get a little or a lot more than you forked out for and that’s always a pleasant surprise. Take a trip to one of South Australia’s farmers markets and you’ll find out what this means. Even if you don’t need anything, go for the buzz, the warm and friendly atmosphere, the laid back sense of real community and the fun of maybe discovering some terrific new products. As well as being a kid-friendly, dog-friendly outing that everyone will enjoy, you get the reward of knowing you’re helping support sustainable food production in South Australia plus doing your bit to ensure “healthy eating” becomes more than just a trendy slogan.
by Anne Green