Ahhh! It’s early Wednesday morning – it must be market day!
Who doesn’t enjoy a good growers’ market in bright winter sunshine, especially in such a picturesque setting? In this case at the Murwillumbah showgrounds with Mount Warning in the background. Let me paint the landscape for you.
The pretty rural township of Murwillumbah nestles in the centre of the lush Tweed Valley on the far north coast of New South Wales, close to the pristine coastline. Heritage listed Mount Warning, towers in the background – the central volcanic remnant of an ancient shield volcano, and the eastern most point of Australia to catch the sun’s rays each morning.
I call it ‘my mountain’ which always triggers an hilarious lecture from my grandchildren about sharing. The mountain, Wollumbin, is a special place for others as well. It remains a place of cultural and traditional significance to the Bundjalung people and is a sacred site for ceremonies and initiation rites.
I love the countryside around Murwillumbah. It’s a tapestry of rolling green hills and gently flowing rivers. The rich volcanic soil produces sugar cane, bananas and many fruit and vegetable crops in abundance. Galleries, arts and crafts abound in the quaint art-deco town and the surrounding small village communities, alluding to the diverse demographic and making it a favourite for day trippers.
Apart from being able to purchase the fresh produce grown within just a few kilometres of the market, there’s the opportunity to talk to the growers. I buy my eggs from a lady who has just a few chooks running on wide acres of green pasture. Believe me, the taste of the eggs tells the story. The banana man has lady finger bananas like none I’ve tasted elsewhere. He was a wealth of information about natural spraying and how to tell correct ripeness for eating as opposed to cooking.
The patch of grass outside the main pavilion is surrounded by marquees – a favourite spot to have coffee or sample home-cooked foods on offer. I could happily sit there for hours and people-watch while listening to the cool music of the busker. They have a different artist each week.
But the market offers than produce and music. It epitomises the ‘slow movement’ I have written of before.
The market experience makes me feel more in touch with my food. More appreciative of the effort and care taken to grow it. More likely to value and savour the flavours. And more aware of the importance of caring for the environment. That I share this experience with a loved one is even better.
The sense of community at the market is palpable. Strangers taking time for each other – connecting because they’re interested, want to help, and because it feels good. Smiling faces and cruisey attitudes are for me, like drawing a deep oxygen-filled breath, then exhaling the tense busy-ness of city life and the angst un-spooling on the nightly news.
The market puts food on my table and feeds my spirit.
“Each moment you are alive is a gem. It needs you to breathe gently for the miracles to be displayed.” ~