With a distinct lack of fluorescent lights, humming fridges and slightly sticky floors, Flemington Farmers’ Market gives you a glimpse at nature’s nourishment in its natural habitat. Where sodden grass hasn’t quite developed a heart-sinking muddy squelch and people mosey through stalls at a slow, savouring pace that is only reserved for Sundays.
Tumbling out of bed and making my way to the market snaps my senses to attention and almost, just almost, negates the need for a caffeine hit. As is the case with my current haunt in Flemington, it could be plonked in one of the last remaining green patches in the city, but as soon as you cross the threshold onto temporary market territory the air seems as crisp and pure as you would find in the Yarra Valley or Daylesford. To complete the illusion, the refreshing inhalation is accompanied by a bounty of goods that reminds me that Mother Nature has everything under control.
The season dictates the delicacies we shall feast on depending on when they are at their nutritional and delectable best, a concept that has long been lost in our often impatient and inflexible modern mindset. Pumpkins and squashes boast all the comforting orange hues of Autumn, standing proudly next to tray after tray of earthy slippery jack mushies.
Water droplets still glisten on the ruby rhubarb and the blemishes on flushing apples are displayed in all their glory rather than discarded with their hosts in disgust. All the produce looks as though it has been pried from the earth that very day, only to be delivered and displayed for our awe, excitement and most importantly, respect.
Market goers are an eclectic club formed upon the condition that you must always be armed with a tote bag, or for the unashamed and sentimental few, a jeep. Families rally together to do their weekly shop, professional foragers make a beeline for their favourite stalls, young singles in chunky cardigans feel their way around and dogs who meet me at eye level follow calmly in tow. But it is the tiny humans who are the most remarkable. They hold a fresh bacon and cheese roll in one hand whilst they finger curious dark green leaves in the other, displaying an innate appreciation for the sacredness of what nature has provided for them.
A stroll around the stalls can be taken at any pace, but with the sun warming your back and the mouth-watering smell of sausages and sweet onions frying on the barbeque, it is unlikely to be attacked hastily. The serenity is only interrupted by the clicking coffee machine and clunky tram making its way up Mt Alexander Parade, but none of it dulls the humbling affect of seeing food at its most vulnerable.