BY JOHN MOYLE
Food markets are about much more than great produce; they reflect the area where they are located, the people who are the producers and the community who attend. But after 25 years, even the best markets are like the gardens where much of the produce comes from, they need revitalisation, and that is what is happening with the Kings Cross/Potts Point Sunday Markets.
Located in the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens, the Sunday Markets have always been the poorer relative of the buzzing Saturday markets, which have now firmly established itself as an important part of the weekend calendar for locals and visitors from further afield.
When looking at revitalisation, it makes a lot of sense that you engage the expertise of the people who have operated the Saturday Markets so successfully for 15 years, and that is where Elizabeth Taylor and Stephen Choularton from Organic Food Markets come into the picture.
“It is very important that the Sunday Markets are a community markets for Potts Point and Kings Cross,” Elizabeth Taylor, director, Organic Food Markets said.
Organic Food markets have been Ms Taylor’s lifeblood since 1993 when she opened England’s first farmers’ market in Spitalfields, starting a trend that has now grown to a reported 400 weekly markets across the UK.
Moving to Australia in 1995 Ms Taylor grew the success she had started in England, firstly with the Frenchs Forest Markets and now sharing organisational duties with Stephen Choularton.
The couple currently operate 11 markets across Sydney and Newcastle, including markets at Marrickville, Double Bay and Leichhardt.
Since 1995 more than 100 markets have opened across Australia, with an estimated annual return of over $40 million, and providing income for primary and secondary producers of both organic and non-organic origin.
Farmers or produce markets of all varieties also provide an outlet for local artists and artisans who often draw from their local communities for inspiration and materials.
“We started the Kings Cross Markets in Fitzroy Gardens 15 years ago, and it has now grown to around 55 stalls each week,” Ms Taylor said. “What I’m after for the Sunday Markets is local people, and there are lots of highly talented people in the Kings Cross and Potts Point area. I would like them to come and showcase their talent and their business, their fashions and anything else to help make the markets a big Sunday drawcard.”
Ron Kok is Green Fingers, and has been a Sunday regular selling healthy and vibrant indoor and outdoor plants and plant containers for over 10 years.
“I hope to see more stalls so the community will come back, and that is what the markets are all about, community,” Ron said.
Russell Sharp aka The Flower King has been a Sunday regular for 25 years, and is looking forward to the new energy.
“There will a synergy of scale and the community will benefit from a new market, and there has already been a big improvement,” Russell said.
One stall to make its first appearance this Sunday is restaurateur Hutu Alhassan’s African Feeling, selling dishes from across the African continent.
African Feeling will be serving up a rotating selection of delicacies that may include suya, an African style BBQ lamb dish, waache, rice cooked with black eyes beans and green beans, garnished with red capsicum, or maybe chicken skewers coated with African spices.
“We also plan on playing African music, a vital ingredient of any African cuisine,” Hutu said. “We will definitely be featuring Wizkid from Nigeria, Flavour N’abania, also from Nigeria, plus some old school Africans such as Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita and Fela Kuti.”
Regulars to King Street Newtown will already be familiar with much of Hutu’s food, where since 2000 he has operated his African Feeling restaurant.
Another stallholder making her first appearance at the markets this weekend will be Jane Rose from Camel Life, a company that produces high quality skin care products based on camel milk.
Boasting that all the products are ‘cruelty free’, Jane is keen to convert market goers to the benefits of camel milk based products including a range of facial cleaners, restorative day cream and a body mousse.
“We average two markets a week, and I find that market people like to control their own destiny, and its a very caring and sharing group that hang out with the markets and they live the life that they choose to live,” Jane said.
Jane is also a veterinarian and has worked in dermatology for over twenty years, so the chances are pretty good that she knows something about both camels and skin care.
Anyone interested in a stall on Sundays should contact Elizabeth or Stephen at Organic Food Markets.
“I want some really good food people, some artists, and I would be very happy to see some quality bric-a-brac and fashion,” Elizabeth said.
It will be interesting to watch as the local King Cross/Potts Point community gets used to having two quality markets, and even though it is early days, it looks like the Sunday Market is already shaping up to create its own distinct identity.