Spring is here and after what feels like one of the longest winters ever, we are all wanting to pop our heads out and emerge from hibernation.
With COVID restrictions still taking out events left, right and centre there’s one place you can go, soak up some rays, grab yourself some delicious treats and mingle in a world that is COVID safe… our local markets.
Perhaps you haven’t been to the markets in a while, if that’s the case let me tell you now more than ever, is the time to get your market back on for a range of reasons.
Firstly, you will be supporting local farmers and producers. Secondly, it will put a spring in your step as you get out and about and thirdly, you will be blown away by how hard our market organisers have worked to make these events safe.
Incredibly, many markets around the Hunter Valley have ridden the wave of lockdown and after being deemed an ‘essential service’ they have pivoted their business models to run a safe, family-friendly event.
Kevin Eade from Newcastle City and Lake Macquarie Farmers Markets said there was simply no hesitation when it came to continuing on; it was a challenge they accepted and rose to.
“After we got the green-light to continue operating, I contacted all the farmers and producers and it was a unanimous yes to continue trading, so we researched everything we needed to do and went from there,” Kevin said.
“There are very clear rules which have been laid down by the Government but we have implemented them all and market-goers are really great at sticking to the rules, so there have been no issues.”
Don’t despair that the enjoyment of wandering around musing over produce and stimulating the senses has gone.
According to Kevin, simply spacing out the market stalls has meant that they are able to have a steady flow of numbers, families can still all come together, and you still have a wonderful vibe.
“It’s lucky,” Kevin laughs, “we have so much space, so we just moved everyone out. And funnily enough, I think people actually like it more, things aren’t crowded and it’s relaxed and enjoyable and everyone has space to move.”
When it comes to those all delicious tastings, Kevin said they are working on finding safe ways so market-goers can ‘try before you buy’.
It’s a sentiment that is echoed across the Hunter with many of our popular markets continuing to trade with their new look operations.
If you find yourself at The Levee in Maitland on a Thursday morning, you may be pleasantly treated to a range of fresh produce from the Earth Markets Maitland. The markets are on the first and third Thursday of the month and run from 8.30am to 1.30pm.
Meanwhile if you are at a loose end on a Saturday morning, you can pack up the troops and head to Pokolbin for the Hunter Wine Country Markets or Handmade in the Hunter.
Located at De Bortoli Wines and Kevin Sobel Wines respectively, you can enjoy a large range of produce, artisan stalls and live music to invigorate the senses.
As for Newcastle and Lake Mac, Kevin says you’ll enjoy an enormous range of produce from farm fresh meats to oysters with new producers being added to the line up on a regular basis.
“Just come on out and support your local market,” Kevin said in closing.
“Support your farmers, local producers and think local. If we make our Hunter Valley greener, it’s for the betterment of the entire community.”’
Details of all markets can be found at their various Facebook pages.