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Small, strong and perfectly formed

A local initiative begun to create an event for the people of Carterton to evoke the “markets of Europe” is still going strong, nearly a decade later.

Carterton Farmers’ Market is a regular feature in the town’s Memorial Square most Sundays, providing a space for local growers and producers to sell their fresh fruit, veggies, honey and crafts.

“Over the years we’ve realised that it’s evolved,” said Dan Broughton, who helped found the market with his wife Louisa. “It’s still a hub of meeting and greeting, but I think it’s probably more now. We’ve got our regulars who want to support ‘buy local’, support local produce and minimise the carbon miles side of things and we endeavour to support the locals who wanted to come to us, rather than import from far away.

“It’s a small market but perfectly formed,” he said.

Stallholders range from people selling surplus produce from their home gardens, to regular suppliers producing fresh fruit and veg on a larger scale, such as Vagabond Vege, a community-supported agriculture [CSA] farm based in Te Hūpenui Greytown.

Vagabond Vege began supplying the market with vegetables when the usual seller became unavailable because of a health issue.

“They stepped up,” Broughton said. “It was sort of a little bit of an experiment to start with, to see if we could sell quantities that would be mutually suitable, but we’ve had a great response to that and we’ve had an increase in the numbers of people coming through the market, which has been lovely.”

On the day Midweek visited, Wairarapa local, Anita, paid the $10 stall fee as a one-off to sell bags of “highly prized” black Doris plums from her three trees which had undergone a “massive flush” of fruit.

Adrianne, a semi-regular stallholder, “comes when she can” to sell her range of handcrafts, including soft toys and brooches made using needlefelt techniques, knitting and embroidered towel sets

“I’m retired and I spend my evenings knitting and my days either crafting or gardening, depending on the weather,” she said. “I generally have a good day at the market and the company’s nice.”

Helen, a local beekeeper with about 150 hives, has been selling honey and beeswax products at the market since it began.

“We’ve got a good core of locals who come down and we like to have a chat and generally you know everyone’s names.”

Helen Dew, also an early adopter of the market and one of its first committee members, frequently sells in-season produce from her garden, as well as a range of nuts, seeds and plants.

She appreciates the sense of community the market brings and like many of the regulars, would like to see more stalls at the market.

“It’s a bit of a catch-22,” she said. “People would be encouraged to have a stall if there was more foot traffic and there would be more foot traffic if there were more stalls.”

New stallholders are always welcome, Broughton said.

“We welcome people with excess produce they want to sell and we’d encourage people to join us and give it a go. Realistically if 10 people turn up with courgettes, we’re not going sell many per person. But it’s a good opportunity to broaden the reach of people who have got spare stuff in the garden, or something unique, or a little less commonplace.”

For the younger crowd, stalls are free for kids who want to sell their wares or fundraise.

“If children want to start their enterprise, maybe it’s something they’ve made or produced, they can. Or if they want to do a fundraiser for a local charity or school, that’s welcome too.”

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