Markets lack colour
THOSE looking to save on fresh fruit and vegetables at the Mulgowie Farmers Markets weren’t starved for quality, but there were some quantity issues.
The first of the monthly markets to have been held in the small Lockyer Valley farming community since the floods lacked the usual colour and variety in terms of farm produce, with many local growers still getting back on their feet after being completely wiped out.
Mulgowie-based farmers Robyn and Linda Reck lost all 20 acres of their lucerne, but were able to pick about an acre of garlic before the Laidley Creek consumed their livelihood.
They were selling their garlic for $5 a bag at the markets on Saturday in the hope of keeping a bit of money coming in.
“This flood was bigger than 1974,” Mr Reck said.
“We thought the rain through December was bad enough – well this one killed us off completely.”
The Recks were able to do a roaring trade in garlic at the country markets, thanks mainly to some buyers who were keen to pick up quality product at a price generally cheaper than the supermarkets.
Katie Kinsella was selling blemished butternut pumpkins, which survived the heavy rain and flooding on her parents’ farm in Tent Hill, near Gatton.
Although affected by “rust” from moisture, she said the pumpkins did not taste any different.
“These are the ones the supermarkets don’t want because they are marked or are the wrong size,” Ms Kinsella said.
“But they are still the same inside and are cheaper than they are at the supermarket.”
Mulgowie potato farmer Milton Lester said most buyers wanted to know that the produce was local.
His Dutch cream potatoes – picked before the floods – were one of the few varieties to thrive during the soggy lead-up to summer.
He was selling them for $3 a kilo. “Gourmet potatoes will usually cost about $5 a kilo in the shops,” he said.
“There’s a buyer resistance; if you go too high in price then people won’t buy it.
“That’s the problem with being a farmer; you’re a price taker rather than a price maker.”
With local capsicums, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis and several other popular vegetables wiped out, market organiser Tracey Shepley said she hoped to see a quick recovery in time for next month’s market.
Unfortunately, local broccoli and cauliflower producers could take several months to get their product back to the markets.