I have always grown my own vegetables - something that was instilled in me by my father Fred, who maintained a prodigious garden that provided us with a nutritious and interesting diet.
When I started cooking, I learnt early on that the fresher your ingredients, the less work there is for you in the kitchen. With nature on your side it’s easy to be a great cook and enjoy delicious meals at the drop of the hat.
The fluorescent atmosphere of a supermarket may make everything look good, but looks don’t necessarily equate to flavour or succulence. And it is this difference in flavour which goes a long way to explain the phenomenal popularity of farmers' markets.
In the freshly picked harvests of local growers, we discover older and lesser known varieties of produce grown because they taste good, not because they suit the long life requirements of a supermarket supply chain.
I also like the fact farmers' markets create a sense of community – something fast disappearing from our lives as people get busier and the big chains bump out old-timer providores.
Each week at the markets, the same friendly faces greet and cajole. I love this chance to try something new and be tempted by an artisan spread, cheese or specialty sausage. So, even without a backyard garden, it's possible to enjoy what is in season at its very best. New Zealand is blessed with some wonderful farmers’ markets where you can support local growers and cook in sync with nature's harvests.
Here’s a list of some of my favourite local markets around the country:
- Bay of Islands Farmers' Market, Hobson Ave, Kerikeri.
- Matakana Village Famers' Market, 2 Matakana Valley Rd, Matakana.
- Clevedon Village Farmers' Market, Clevedon Showgrounds.
- The City Farmers' Market at Britomart, Auckland City.
- Grey Lynn Farmer's Market, 510 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland.
- Oratia Farmers Market, 99 Parrs Rd, Oratia, Waitakere City.
- Tauranga Farmers' Market, Tauranga Primary School.
- Coroglen Farmers' Market, Coroglen Community Hall.
- Gisborne Farmers' Market, Army Hall Car park, Fitzherbert Ave, Gisborne.
- Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market, Hawke's Bay Showgrounds, Hastings.
- Farmers' Market Taranaki, Currie St, New Plymouth.
- Upper Hutt Farmers' Market, Russell St, Upper Hutt.
- Marlborough Farmers' Market, corner Market and High streets.
- Nelson Farmers' Market, Fashion Island, corner Hardy and Morrison Streets.
- Christchurch Farmers' Market, 16 Kahu Rd, Riccarton, Christchurch.
- Methven Farmers' Market, The Square, Main St, Methven.
- Otago Farmers' Market, Dunedin Railway Station.
- Central Otago Farmers’ Market, Melmore Tce, Old Cromwell Town.
- Wanaka Farmers Market, Ardmore and Dungarven streets, on Pembroke Park.
Annabel Langbein is the star of the new TV ONE series Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook(7pm Saturdays).
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