There’s a reason everyone wants to live in the Northern Rivers, and a big part of that is the fresh food that’s made locally and the sustainable principles that many businesses make sure are underpinning that food.
Many will have tried Byron Bay Tempeh around the family table or spotted Sarah Bourke and Luc Bernard’s smiling faces at the Mullumbimby Farmers Markets already.
Sarah says she and Luc enjoy being at the local farmers markets because they love being involved in their community. ‘It’s good to be a part of something that contributes so much sustenance into the community,’ she says. ‘It’s very inspiring to see how many people are making a conscious effort to shop wisely.
‘As consumers, we have a lot of power and it’s a great way to ensure your dollars remain within the local economy.’
For those not yet in the know, there is a perfect autumn burger you can make with Byron Bay Tempeh’s fresh products below.
If you’ve ever been to the New Brighton or Mullum Farmers Markets you’d be forgiven if you thought you were seeing double.
Over the 15 years the Sanson family have operated Seedlings Organic in the region, countless customers have been served at their local market by father-and-son team Luke and Kyan.
Kyan has taken over the market duties from Dad (and doppelgänger) Luke. ‘People mistake us for each other a lot, and often people think Dad’s my brother,’ says Kyan.
The family-run business, started by Luke and his wife Leisha and now supported by their children, Seedlings Organic, supplies high-quality, productive seedings to many commercial growers in the region, as well as to backyard growers and food lovers.
Everything is organic, and everything is grown to meet a standard the family is proud of. ‘We’ve always worked with farmers,’ says Luke. ‘We have about 60 farmers whom we work with pretty regularly within 100km – from up to Cudgen, south as far as Yamba, and west out to Kyogle.’
The business is proud to be part of a connected, local food chain, whose seedlings sustain the vege boxes of growers as well as ending up in the stocks of food-processing businesses dealing in everything from kale chips to sauerkraut.
‘We have a lot of people here who have dedicated a lot of their life to quality food – farmers we’ve worked with for over a decade, rain, hail, or shine, who are out there picking, planting, harvesting – doing what needs to be done and getting it to market,’ says Luke.
‘It’s good connecting with the growers – they’re customers but it’s always been a partnership in growing and producing food. Working together in an organised way to do something that contributes – and the farmers markets are a good example of that.
‘When you’ve got people’s livelihoods to be responsible for, you have an obligation to have a really good product.’
Kyan, who is now running both market stalls, says it’s been great to watch the uptake in growing food in their backyard from local customers. ‘Recently with Covid people are looking to be more sustainable and self-sufficient and growing their own food – we’ve seen a really big change happening.
‘One of the biggest things for us is having a good quality product and to have good feedback coming back in when people come back to the farmers markets each week, saying the seedlings are growing great.’
The family says while many growers do wholesale, the markets create the opportunity for growers to sell direct – and watching seedlings grow into food producing plants and be harvested and sold locally is a special process to watch. ‘You know whom you’ve bought something off and when you make it into a meal you can talk to them later and share that experience and feedback.
‘Food is a key aspect of culture, and these are experiences you wouldn’t have in disconnected food chain.’
The New Brighton Farmers Market is on every Tuesday from 8am to 11am, and the Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday 7am till 11am.