I've been interested in finding a market that sells local produce, having once visited another that had fruit marked with overseas stickers. I read some great things about Hill Street: that all produce is sourced from within the lower North Island, and all is harvested within the 24 hours prior to the Saturday morning. Check out the Hill Street Market website if you are interested, they have some lovely ideas and philosophies around small local businesses, sustainability and supporting the community.
We arrived mid-morning and while a few stalls were getting low on produce, I didn't feel we were missing out on anything except the large crowds that I'm told had been there earlier. We found three stalls devoted to a range of fruit and veges, and they brought produce in from Masterton, Hawkes' Bay and Te Horo. The majority of produce was organic. I asked about the question of harvesting time, and certainly not everything had been picked in the last 24 hours, but almost all of it had been picked on the Thursday or Friday. We sampled some stunning apples that we bought more of later, and the kids scoffed much of a box of glorious, sweet, glowing strawberries. We bought a further bag load of the usual that we needed for the week; nectarines, plums, capsicum, zucchini, broccoli, agria potatoes, iceberg lettuce, beetroot. I couldn't just see carrots and was sorry to have missed out on tomatoes, but there were plenty of other things we could have bought (including watermelons twice the size of Esther's head).
As well as fruit and veg there was a honey stall, a large range of locally made body creams, flowers and a juice stall. I spotted a bit of bread and wondered if there must have been coffee somewhere, but didn't see any. It's smaller that I expected, though perhaps it fluctuates over the months. I was glad to have sandwiches for the kids as there wasn't a lot we could eat on the spot, but it was a lovely morning out.
It would be nice to do my fruit and vege shopping this way every week. Warm sunshine and fresh air, good humoured kids, friendly stall holders, local organic produce. But things aren't always that easy, and, ideal as it is, it is a more expensive way to shop. I have done a lot of prioritising healthy eating in my budget but the ways to do this are almost endless and my finances aren't. I'm not sure that shopping this way regularly is an option for me, and I was a little sorry when I realised that.
Then I remembered, of course, the answer lies in the garden. Tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, lettuce, herbs, cabbages, apples, peaches, lemons, strawberries. I've grown it all before and I can do it again.
All I need is a, you know, new house. And garden.
The Hill Street Farmers' Market meets in the carpark of the St Paul's Cathedral in Hill St, Thorndon, 8.30am - 12.30pm.
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