For the last year or so I have run some occasional Market tours through “Healthy Darwin”, which is a City of Darwin, council program that subsidises the tour. We came up with the idea to connect people to their food more, by connecting them to local growers and familiarising them with the sometimes more ‘unusual’ local produce and I take participants for a tour of Darwin’s largest local produce market, “Rapid Creek Markets” and then onto the nearest community garden- “Jingili Community Garden”, just across the creek.
I take up to 15 Darwin residents on a produce experience, from garden, to market, to taste or vice a versa. Many of the people who come along have lived in Darwin for a long time and even go to the market, but wonder what some the items are and would love to know how to use them. Often the stall holders are understandably too busy to explain more than ‘stirfry’ or similar. Most growers have small farms in the rural area outside Darwin, in Humpty Doo, Virginia, Howard Springs and Bees Creek, and drive in for the Sunday market. Not everything is local, so it is good to know what is in season and all stall holders will tell you straight up where the produce came from, if it sprayed and so on…
The idea of the tour is to familiarise people a little more with the local produce sold at the market, to explain the uses of the different produce and how it is grown, and to meet some of the growers and hear their stories. It is so valuable to connect people to the produce they consume, know who grows it, how it grows and even inspire people that to grow a little yourself is not that hard.
After many years visiting the markets I have built up a pretty good relationship with a lot of the stall holders, who are often very busy and work really hard, so we try not get in their way too much and I am always appreciative of any of them who can spend a couple of minutes with us.
After a walk through the markets we then take a chilled walk to the nearby Jingili community gardens to see some of the produce growing, the participants can find out how to get involved in local community gardens, or just get inspired to grow a few things at home.
We then sit in the workshop area and taste some of the items, that either I have brought along, or those on the the tour have selected and bought with some their returned “tour fee” – a kind of show and tell. We try these raw or lightly cooked on a simple camp stove set up I bring along with some basic ingredients. I give ideas about how to use produce to the create delicious dishes and hopefully the tools to take way to experiment with the plant parts (ok, the veggies and fruit).
We are looking to do a few more tours and maybe one that starts at the market and moves on to different gardens around the Northern Suburbs. If you are interested, get in touch and I can put you on the communications list.
I am always too busy to take photos, these shots are kindly taken by Lina of Malak Market place, who came on a market tour last year, we hope to work with her at Malak Market next year. Thanks also to Healthy Darwin for subsidising the tour!