Why these Brisbane markets remain strong after 30 years
AT 78, the doyen of Brisbane's Farmers Markets, Jan Powers still feels about 40.
And while these days she has back-up from daughter Sammy in running the markets which she started almost 30 years ago, she still attends each and every one.
There's a Jan Powers Farmers Markets every Saturday somewhere in Brisbane, one on Sundays in Mitchelton, a weekly city market in Reddacliff Pl and a twice-monthly twilight market at Hawthorne.
"Anyone can join as long as they make the product they sell," Jan said. "People who can talk about their product with pride will always make a sale."
If that's the case, it's hardly surprising Jan's markets have been such a success. She is still extremely passionate about her brainchild.
With a background in nursing and theatre, Jan says she caught the "good food bug" while living in London. She came from a traditional Aussie "meat and two veg" farming family in Stanthorpe, but found through her cordon bleu studies that food was something that "gave me pleasure, excited me and interested me for the rest of my life".
She ran a restaurant, food outlets and a catering company before deciding to breathe fresh life into the historic concept of the farmers' market in Brisbane. Today you can buy fresh farm produce, flowers, breads, artisan products, meat, fish, plants, organics, street food and more.
"It's the real thing. You can go into supermarkets and come out with no idea where your food has come from," Jan said. "Here, the person serving you has actually grown or made what they are selling - that's the principle of it."
And she says that's good for shopper and seller alike, as the producers get direct feedback from their customers.
Even men become more interested in shopping when they can talk to the person who grew it and hear the story behind it, she said. To Jan, that's a large part of the markets' success - reconnecting producer and consumer.
"People from all over the world wander through the Brisbane city markets and it's very interesting for them to see some of the food we grow and prepare and eat, and hear about where it came from," she said.
But perhaps Sammy best sums up the philosophy behind the markets and their success in Brisbane.
"Markets were the heart and soul of cities of old," Sammy said. "They were where families connected, where the city met and mingled, argued and loved; and the farmers markets are the modern day incarnation of this, therefore, they are at the heart and soul of Brisbane."