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Carla Grossetti
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Shire Farmers' Market

The Shire Farmers' Market has created a sense of community and conviviality, where locals and food tourists come to eat, shop and connect. Carla Grossetti runs the gamut of gourmet goodies to reveal a few of her personal favourites.

The weekly Shire Farmers' Market recently celebrated its first birthday. As well as bringing a lot of increased foot traffic to the suburb of Sutherland, the Saturday morning market has become a great place to catch up and connect with friends and family.

Located in the Flora St Carpark in Sutherland, the market has a diverse range of produce, with up to 55 stallholders selling their produce each week. Specialties at the market are diverse and include French pastries, organic eggs, Paddy the Baker's soda bread , vegan treats and fruit and vegetables -- a large proportion of which are grown by some of the stallholders themselves. Point to a nice bit of fresh fish from Mrs Fish, and you might be inspired to think about dinner and how to pair it with that piece of fresh turmeric.

What food hounds love about the market is the fact there's a certain synergy between the stalls. A visit to the market might include a visit to where you can replenish your pantry staples with Mister Egg, followed by a stop-off at the family farm stall that specialises in selling strawberries and to the purveyor of fine foods, Universal, where you can pick up your favourite brand of yoghurt.

Gather five deep behind the marketgoers clamouring for some Pepe Saya butter and Thoroughbread sourdough, buy a beautiful bouquet from the friendly characters that sell flowers and grab a nice piece of cheese from Leaning Oak Dairy and some beef jerky or salami for a stylish picnic in the park.

The market, which started as a small initiative one year ago, also offers shoppers the chance to munch their way around the globe, nibbling on a French crepe here, free-range meat sample over there. Marketgoers can also buy everything from a sixpack of Shark Island craft beer, to a jar of pickles or bag of fresh potatoes.

The action happens every Saturday morning as shopper swarm into the space, where they can also stock up on Great Southern Mead & Honey and beautiful fresh produce from Oakville Farm Fresh Harvest.

The idea behind a farmers' market is for the farmer to sell directly to the public. And while not all of the stallholders at the Shire Farmers' Market live in the locality, the market does attract a few farmers from around NSW who grow the majority of the food they sell.

Live music also makes the weekly fruit and vegetable shop much less of a chore, as do the street food vendors allowing you to lunch on everything from bratwurst to gozleme. Fuel up on French pastries from La Boulangerie Menai before stocking your nanna trolley with free-range and grass-fed meat from Sutton Forest Meat & Wine, where it's likely you will be swapping recipes with the person ahead of you in the queue. It's that kind of vibe.

As well as providing us with the opportunity to pick and choose produce from a profusion of farmers and artisan providores, there are casual traders and miscellaneous stalls that vie for attention at the Shire Farmers' Market. In addition, the local community gets involved with the free community stall provided each week to promote a worthy organisation. But what's really wonderful about this market is that coming together of basket-laden shoppers as a reminder of how we used to shop. It's not just a decent apple we're after: it's that coming together in a friendly place to indulge, interact and inspire.

The Shire Farmers' Market is held at the Flora St carpark, behind Sutherland Entertainment Centre, Sydney, every Saturday morning from 8am to 1pm (rain, hail or shine). Visit www.shirefarmersmarket.com.au for more details.

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