By ESTHER MACINTYRE

GROWERS and customers have welcomed the return of Sunraysia Farmers’ Market.

Families flocked to Mildura’s Jaycee Park last Saturday for fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, plants, jams and preserves, dried fruit, olives, and coffee.

Restrictions meant the usual cooked breakfast was not available and stalls were spaced further apart.

“Our stalls are double-spaced to allow plenty of room for you to access every grower while maintaining 1.5 metre distance from other attendees,” market co-ordinator, Kylie Dew said.

Giovanni Barbera and Vicki Carrazza of Gio’s Bread were happy to finally make use of their new van.

GIO’S BREAD: Giovanni Barbera and Vicki Carrazza. Photo: Esther MacIntyre

“I guess it’s a feeling that we forgot − it’s been a while,” Gio said.

“We bought this van during lockdown because we thought we were going to start doing a lot of deliveries, but through the shop we managed to stay open.

“So now we can harvest the benefits of having the van, and it’s working well.”

Stallholders are getting used to the new rules, including washing all cash that comes in, with soap and water.

“It’s a bit different, we have to get used to this… one person handles the money, one person handles the product, but so far so good,” Gio said.

PAGE’S PRODUCE: Les and Kathy Page. Photo: Esther MacIntyre

Les and Kathy Page were run off their feet restocking a colourful stall of fresh orange juice, vegetables and flowers.

Merbein’s Ben Mitchell debuted his organic rainbow silverbeet and lettuce mix at Saturday’s market.

BEN’S BONA FIDE FOOD: Annalyce Middleton, Ben Mitchell. Photo: Esther MacIntyre

“I’ll hopefully be here with new stuff every week, from now on,” Ben said.

While many stall holders had been frustrated at the delay in getting back to Jaycee Park, Kylie thanked the community for its support.

“The feedback I have had is that it went exceedingly well with shoppers so happy to be able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the grower again,” Kylie said.

“Everybody embraced our covid guidelines which made for a safe and yet enjoyable market.

“Definitely looking to getting back to our format which included breakfast,” she said.

Natasha of Petrac’s Bakehouse said it was “great, but also a bit daunting”.

“Because we haven’t been here for so long, and also with all the restrictions it’s a bit harder, you know, washing your money and all of that,” she said.

“I’m trying to remember all our prices!” Natasha laughed.

The markets are only running until 11am but they’ll be on every weekend up to Christmas.

COMMON GROUND: Chrissy and Glen, Common Ground Coffee Van. Photo: Esther MacIntyre

“People have missed it that much, they’ll be happy to come back hopefully,” Natasha said.

Many customers commented that the markets could have been safely running through lockdown, as happened in Melbourne.

“It was a little bit sad I think because people already didn’t have much to do, and I know there was a lot of talk because we’re out in the open and we can be spaced out,” Natasha said.

“So I think a lot of people were just sad that we weren’t able to run, and questioning why, because we could’ve put a lot of things in place I guess.

“But we’re just happy to be here and saying hello to everybody we’ve missed!” she said.