Markets: Cambridge 20th & Hamilton 21st July

I am writing this blog dressed in my ski jacket because the temperature in my office feels like the top of Mount Ruapehu. Sadly there are no fresh powder snow runs or hot chocolates at the Knoll Ridge Café to warm me up. I reckon jackets and beanies made out of Pink Batts would be a goer at this time of year!
We had yet another massive market last weekend – 13th and 14th  July , which is really quite extraordinary for the middle of winter. The July sun entices people out and there is such at positive atmospheric vibe at the market on a nice day, it is a great place to be. The Farmers’ Market has become quite the hub if you want to catch up with friends at the weekend. We have several regular market goers who arrive in packs to do their weekly fresh produce shop and then gather around coffee tables for a latte, a scone and a good natter. Vicky Stuart-Jones is one such social butterfly. She comes to the market to do a vege shop but it takes her and hour and a half to get around because she is so busy chatting to all her friends.

If we are not too busy, we stallholders we get to observe the many chance meetings of people who haven’t seen each other, sometimes, for years. These meetings usually result in cries of joy, hugs and kisses and marveling at the size of growing children, changed hairdos etc. In fact I very much doubt that anyone can get away with coming to the Farmers’ Market and NOT meet someone they know.
We have a New Zealand champion honey producer amongst our stallholders – Sweetree Honey has won a swag of medals at the most recent National Beekeepers Association Honey Competition. All the honey and bee pollen which was entered in the competition was presented in unlabelled, identical plastic containers to ensure a true blind tasting. The honey was judged on its flavour, texture and colour. Sweetree Honey won the following medals:

  1st in the Beekeepers Special Reserve Honey with their Hakarimata Honey
  1st in the Dried Bee Pollen
  3rd in the Products from the Hive with their new Propolis Tincture

Stephanie and Martin Lynch have worked extremely hard to develop their products to their current high standards. Stephanie gave up her full time job last year to devote her time solely to growing the Sweetree Honey business and marketing the honey throughout New Zealand and her devotion has paid off. It is worth ‘liking’ the Sweetree Honey Facebook page as it is a treasure trove of information about honey and the wonderful benefits to be derived from honey and pollen both culinary and medicinal.
The champion Hakarimata Honey and Bee Pollen are on sale at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market.  There are many different honeys to choose from and the Sweetree Bee Pollen is a superb protein and mineral source which tastes great with muesli, in yoghurt, in smoothies and even spread on buttered wholegrain bread.
Cambridge Farmers’ Market customers have been treated to some serious Blue Grass banjo picking recently. Southern Californian Travis Bartosh is studying for his doctorate at Waikato and is busking on the side to raise some much needed cash. It so happens that his subject is Farmers’ Markets so playing his banjo in the midst of the weekend markets has just got to be of some help to his studies – both financial and academic. Travis has teamed up with other members of the Hamilton Bluegrass Music scene and has been performing as part of the newly formed ‘Aristotle’s Choice’ band at Biddy Mulligans. Wouldn’t it be great if they could do a free gig at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market? One of my favourite songs is the theme from the Beverly Hillbillies ‘Let me tell you ‘bout a story of a man named Jed’….love it.
Back to fruit and vegetables – celery is here but for a limited time only. Clif Fyers tells me that celery is darned hard to grow without a swag of chemicals but this winter he has succeeded in producing spray-free celery for the first time ever. Freshly picked the evening before the market, you might never find healthier, more naturally grown celery anywhere else so give it a go and taste the difference.

On a fine day you need to get into the market before 10am to ensure that you will be able to pick up fresh celery, silverbeet, spinach and cauliflowers, kale and cavello nero and of course fancy potatoes. Broccoli is selling well at Richard Cato’s stall and he has that lovely winter savoy cabbage. I have only just learnt that the word savoy means crinkled. I wonder why they named a chain of hotels after it? Someone out there knows.
Pears are coming to an end. Phil Platje of Top Pears has only another 2 weeks worth of pears left in his chiller and that will be it until next autumn so get in quick for the last of his outstanding pears. Apples are still in good supply but they have been chilled so for best results keep them in your fridge. Mandarins and Tamarillos are here too – also Lemons and Limes. Full of vitamin C and just what is needed to stave off man, woman and child flu.

Yes, you can still get Tomatoes but only from Stephen at Plainsview Nurseries and have you tried his amazing wheat grass juice? Last Sunday he was completely sold out of his fresh juice. People are really cottoning on to this supertonic as it is a wonderful pick-me-up. We have many healthy customers who visit the market after their morning run or riverside walk. No coffee and croissants for them – just a wheat grass and apple juice and perhaps a slice of authentic vegetarian pizza from Roberto or a raw fish salad bowl from Raglan Fish or maybe an Organic Blueberry Juice from Monovale who come the first and last weekends of the month during the winter. Sounds too healthy? Don’t worry we have plenty of buttered scones, Danish pastries, blueberry waffles, mussel fritters and Cornish pasties to comfort you too.
The LUCAuction
Finally, here is a call for support for young Luca Cittadini, the 8 year old son of Carolyn Cittadini aka The Panini and Hummus Lady who used to run a stall at the Hamilton Market. Little Luca was diagnosed with an aggressive childhood cancer in January this year so Carolyn has had to give up her stall to spend the last 6 months with Luca as he goes through the hard core chemo treatment at Starship. We have raised $1,000 already amongst the stallholders for Luca but now we want to raise a further $5,000 to help make Luca’s home safe and warm for him as he recovers from this devastating condition and the treatment which appears to be worse than the disease from all accounts.

Our plan is very simple. We are asking people to consider putting some of their unwanted ‘stuff’ on TRADEME and donating the proceeds (less the auction costs) to the Luca Appeal Fund. If 100 people each sold an item/s for $50 we would meet our goal easily.
Some people are not familiar with Trademe Auctions so they are most welcome to drop in their unwanted items to the Farmers’ Market Information Tent and we will auction them off on Trademe on their behalf and give the money rasied to the appeal. Already we have been offered art prints and wooden bowls. Goodness knows what else lurks in the garages, sheds and cupboards of Hamilton and environs .
The act of giving is apparently what helps to make us happier according to the latest survey on ‘What makes people happy’. So please consider taking part in a LUCAuction. It will be a win win for everyone.

The Appeal Account number is:03 1557 0498621 02 (ref Luca). Thanks so much in advance. We will be running the appeal until the end of August so you have plenty of time to participate.
See you at the markets!

Meg Daly
Celtic Cuisine