By Lesley A’Court
Lesley is a well known local grower, selling delicious strawberries, fermented foods and preserves in markets around Northland.
Image from Home Remedies Natural Cures
Growing and gathering ‘food’ be it fruit, veg, fish, dairying, cereal or collecting honey as a business is a fulltime job. The results are what we all need to keep healthy.
Once if you worked hard at these occupations you were rewarded with enough money to run a family and even once a year manage a modest holiday. (That was about 40 years ago)
Much now is retired people working hard living off a pension.
Since then the world has become faster and more ‘clever’ in the lining of individual pockets that have never soiled their hands. This was at first very useful as the growers could produce more than they could themselves sell at the local outlet. It then grew, and became a much easier way to earn a ‘middle man’s living’. Slowly but very surely the growers became the losers financially, and ended up in most cases being completely dependent on these ‘helpful’ distributers of their goods.
We now have a situation where the tradition of all these hunters and gatherers are not a viable choice for young people, and it becomes a commonly held thread that they all need to leave and ‘go to the city’.
The public haven’t understood this is happening but growers have been slowly ground down so they can’t live off their fulltime job. Many ‘retire’ from a thankless task. Some have gone bankrupt and lose all (think Callas, Sandesonia, deer velvet, ostrich eggs, orchids, recently dairying etc.).
I know growers who are getting the same money for their produce as they did 30years ago!!! Who would stand that in their office job?
About 20 years ago the growers realized that the situation was dire and was caused partly from the poor quality produce arriving from overseas. (if you pick unripe with no sugar content in order to send overseas and have it ripen at the other end, of course it tastes of nothing) and their financial losses were becoming worse through middle men ‘clipping the ticket’ SO… they started up local markets where you could sell fresh, tasty, often tree ripened produce in season. Producers could sell their ‘made yesterday’ beautiful cheeses, yoghurts, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, salamis etc. The growers can expect top quality prices for their top quality food and the customer is fully aware of the history of their purchases and have a good relationship with their supplier.
The idea has taken off worldwide, and is growing. If the producers can earn the correct money for their hard work then the whole community benefits with more money and jobs circulating.
We are going to lose our good growers in NZ if we don’t support them.
Good food markets are not where you go to pick up bargains. Prices should be more than the supermarkets. Quality product deserves quality money, like the rest of sociey earns.