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 that 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 who we work with pretty regularly within 100km – from up at Cudgen, to down south as far as Yamba, and out west to Kyogle.’
The business is proud to be part of a connected, local food chain, whose seedlings sustain the veggie boxes of growers, as well as ending up in the stock of food processing businesses; 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 from local customers in growing food in their backyard. ‘Recently, with [the lockdown] more people have started looking to be 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 in when people come back to the Farmer’s Markets each week, saying their seedlings are growing great.’
Kyan 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 being harvested and sold locally is a special process to watch. ‘You know who you’ve bought from, 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 a disconnected food chain.’
The New Brighton Farmers Market is on every Tuesday from 8am to 11am, and the Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday, 7am to 11am.