May 18th, Mildura
Today was an early start for us, breakfast was at 6:30 at Calperum Station and then we departed for the city of Mildura which is located in the state of Victoria. We had a nice stay at the Calperum Station and made plenty of critter friends (spiders & scorpions) in our bunks. I in particular had a scorpion friend try to make a home out of my suitcase, but I figured it was best he stay at Calperum Station. Our bus drive was a couple of hours to the city of Mildura where we would be visiting the Sunraysia Farmers Market. Unfortunately we had to reschedule our Sun Salt Farm visit so the Farmers Market was our only visit of the day.
We were given about an hour and a half to roam the Farmers Market, which seemed like a good chunk of time until we saw all the stuff it had to offer! The farmers market was loaded with goodies like fresh produce, jarred jams and condiments, dried fruits, olive oils and dressings, baked goods, meat products, alcoholic beverages, fresh juices, soaps, shampoos and lotions, and so much more. There were a variety of different stands all of which were located within the city park which gave it a nice local atmosphere.
Everything at the market was locally sourced and Australian grown. Sunraysia Farms, the farm that organizes the market, has all stand holders within the market be certified. To be certified for this particular market all stands must provide goods that are homemade and locally grown. Most stand holders at the market told us that they drive no more than an hour to come and sell their products at the market. The Sunraysia criteria of entry into selling within the market are strict in that everything being sold is local which really helps in supporting their local economy.
Seeing all of the wonderful products that these local farms and businesses had to offer was very refreshing. I had the chance to talk with two organic farmers from Karra Organic Farm, they told me that all of their product was strictly organic meaning it was certifiable grown organically. They also explained to me that the extra fruits they do not sell at the market they use to make fruit leathers and dried fruits. Knowing the product does not go waste is good to know because they are making use of something that would otherwise be discarded. Another stand I had the chance to chat with was the Mourguong Ridge Fine Food Supplier, the husband and wife running the stand told me that they too used the extra fruit they did not sell in the market for dried fruits and jams. This seemed to be a recurring trend at the market because the Varapodio Estate stand uses all of their extra olive oil that is not bottled for shampoo, conditioner and lotion products.
Walking around it was obvious that all the produce were fresh because there was very little packaging and every stand was knowledgeable of what they were offering. The market was a good place to not only buy fresh products but spend a couple of hours eating lunch and interacting with the community. It seemed that many of the consumers were not only local, but weekly visitors. Everyone at the market brought their own bags that were generously filled by the time they were done. I saw mostly smiles as people of all ages were leaving from the market, this could have been because it was friendly for all ages. We made sure to get pictures with the Sunraysia Farms Mascot and Ranger Roo.
The crew left the market with plenty of snacks as we headed to our new home at the Mildura Golden River Holiday Park, where I have yet to make any critter friends. Darn. Flick had an awesome meal prepared for lunch and then some people went off to the local footie match. She also gave us t-shirts after our Thai Soup dinner with our MSU logo and ‘Down Under with Truly Tribal’ on the back, she is awesome! With happy stomachs and some relaxation everyone went to bed feeling pretty good, ready for our canoeing adventure down the Murray in the morning! Hugs and love to my mates back home, we’re all smiles here!(read below for a list of some sustainable practices of the Sunraysia Farmers Market).
Sustainable Practices of Sunraysia Farmers Market(list attained from personal observation):
- limited packaging– products are not packaged at all or in simple bags/containers, and not in bulk amounts
- the market provides customers with Eco-friendly reusable shopping bags
- all stand holders within the market are local and travel small distances to get to the market
- some stands reuse products they do not sell to make derivative products like jams/jellies for future sale in the market, this helps to reduce waste of goods
- local businesses are promoted within the market to help encourage economic growth and support
- a diverse array of stands, each stand offers something different so socially it could accommodate the needs of many different people
- for the most part goods are left unpacked and priced depending on amount consumer would like to purchase, also reducing waste
feel free to comment below if interested in more sustainable practices and information attained from our trip to the market! – Michelle