The Fehrenbacher family is a familiar fixture at the Cotters, Willows and North Shore Farmers’ Markets. Based down the road at Crystal Creek, they specialise in paw paw and Asian greens and have established a loyal following as Townsvillians increasingly exercise their culinary muscles.
“At the Willows Markets we have customers turning up in the dark wearing headlamps so they can secure the best produce,” Matthias Fehrenbacher says who works on the 54-acre property fulltime with his dad Herbert, mum Irene and brother Sven.
“At the moment people are embracing fresh and locally-grown produce and going crazy for the veggies… I think it has a lot to do with the cooking shows on TV.”
Stocking slightly more unconventional items like kale, amaranth, kang kong and paw paw, these; along with favourites like bok choy, pak choy, watermelon and pumpkins; are all proving especially popular this time of year.
“The new people who come to visit us can’t believe how cheap we are — you’re paying 50c or less for a passionfruit whereas you’re looking at over a dollar in the supermarkets,” Matthias says.
And it seems that the trifecta of fresh, locally-grown and well-priced is proving to be a sure bet with Markets director Bob Bartlett saying stallholder numbers at the Willows, Cotters and Strand Night markets are up 14% over the past five years to service the increased traffic; with the back half of the year the busiest.
“We were surprised at how much the markets had improved actually – both in the quality of vendors and street food” – Cotters Market patron Julia Sullivan
“We have two types of clientele — the people who get there in the dark and are already streaming out with their green bags full of fruit and veggies at 6.30am — they want to get there first to get the best stuff,” Bob tells. “Then we’ve got the people who come at 10am for a Sunday morning wander and to grab some breakfast from the street vendors — it’s all part of the experience.”
The Sullivan family have made a trip to the Cotters Sunday markets a tradition of late, pushing their nine-month-old twins around in the pram while they load it up with fruit and veg for the week ahead. “When we first started going we were surprised at how much the markets had improved actually – both in the quality of vendors and street food,” Julia Sullivan says.
“Now it’s become a bit of a Sunday morning ritual where we grab a coffee and something nice to eat… we like supporting the local producers and getting everything so fresh.”
Where to get your market fresh fruit and veg
Open every Sunday 7:30am to 11:30am
Willows Shopping Centre Carpark – Cnr Thuringowa Dr/Hervey Range Rd, Kirwan
Open every Sunday 8:30am to 1:00pm
Flinders Street (Between Stanley St & Denham St) – CBD
Open every Saturday 6am to 12pm
Main Street, North Shore