In farmers markets across Australia, baked bread and pastries are mixing with the sights and smells of fresh organic country produce. Australian Baking Business talks to the bakers and pastry chefs boosting their business with city and country market stalls.
Kelvin Grove Market, Brisbane
Jeremy Durand loads a tray of pastries into a wood-fired oven at Kelvin Grove’s Saturday Urban Market. The burly French pastry chef closes the black doors of the portable oven and moves to prepare the next tray of pesto-flavoured dough, keeping the counter of bread and pastry filled for the throng of hungry customers.
The popular Banneton Bakery Cafes in Woolloongabba and Ashgrove, launched in 2009, are owned by French-born Eric Ramonda. Eric has a second market stall at Boggo Road, and recently opened a third retail store at Newmarket. Baking has taken Eric from the French Riviera to the Philippines and on to a part-ownership of Brisbane’s Sol Breads, where he worked for eight years.
The business is powered by a huge custom John Willet oven at Woolloongabba, which produces a bread range that includes a balance of sourdoughs, traditional French baguettes, Italian ciabatta, foccacia, olive with fresh rosemary, Latvian rye and more.
The bakery’s philosophy is grounded in the belief that as a food staple, bread must be naturally delicious, wholesome and made without the use of artificial improvers or additives.
Growers Green Farmers Market, Perth
Interacting with customers at a farmers market stall has been an eye-opening experience for Trish and Daragh Grier.
Having sold a large wholesale and retail patisserie before launching Brioche Bakery, the couple focuses entirely on three weekend farmers markets for their sales: Subiaco Farmers Market, Poynter Primary Duncraig, and Growers Green Market in Beaconsfield.
Growers’ Green Market is held every Sunday morning from 8 – 12 on the lawns of South Fremantle Senior High School. Using traditional methods and seasonal ingredients, Brioche Bakery produces quality baked goods.
“It is basically a one-man show, with my husband baking all the products himself, then driving it all to the markets where we have a couple of helpers to sell the goods,” Trish told Australian Baking Business
“Nothing prepared us for the hunger that our customers seem to have for not only our products, but for the relationship between themselves and the stallholders,” she said.
“They seem to be actively seeking a connection, wanting to be recognised and lingering for a little conversation each week with Daragh, who they know is the actual baker of the bread they’re buying.
Trish believes the market experience is a relief for customers from the “frenzy” of weekly activity, and there is a certain amount of integrity in purchasing from small local businesses who have grown or made the product themselves.
“The farmers markets are definitely a unique business, and I believe they will continue to flourish if they can maintain that vital ingredient of stallholders being actual farmers/producers,” she said.
Mulgrave Farmers Market, Melbourne
With a web of 11 market stalls across Sydney, Brasserie Bread recently entered Melbourne at Mulgrave Farmers’ Market. Their market stalls sell artisan bread, cakes and pastries, with their sourdough bread their most popular product.
Farmers markets are an important part of Brasserie Bread’s business and provide a platform for interesting conversations with their customers.
“The feedback we get about new product is very useful. As brand extension it works a little bit, but it can’t do it alone,” he said. Having organic ingredients is a big part of the Brasserie Bread “story”, and one of the main reasons people buys them at the market.
“The word ‘organic’ gives people a kind of connection with farming and milling,” Michael explains.
The bakery’s market stalls in Sydney have been running for six years with a “great team of people that get up early every weekend, pick the fresh bread out of the ovens, drive to the market, set up the stall and “sell bread all day with a smile”.
Michael recommends bakeries get involved in their local farmers market, but warns that they shouldn’t expect to make money straight away.
“It takes time to build a market stall sales; customers have to get used to your stall and taste your products,” he says.
“Don’t give up if you get (nowhere) when trying to get a stall on a local market. Keep trying – sometimes it is about lucky timing.”
Eveleight Markets, Darlington
Sonoma Bakery’s Jordan Miller has seen organic ingredients become increasingly popular and important to his customers since he started using organic flour in 2000.
The bakery has been selling sourdough bread at Eveleigh since the market began in February 2009. Eveleigh Market is home to Sydney’s award-winning farmers’ and artisans’ markets with fresh local and organic produce.
“People are really aware now of what goes into their food and their belly and organic producers are helping them to have more choice and better quality food,” Jordan says.
Farmers markets only make up a small part of the bakery’s overall income, but according to Jordan, “that’s not really what it is about.”
“We have had market stalls since we started (Paddington markets is where we first sold our bread in Sydney) and over the years it has helped us create customer awareness of our great-quality bread and it keeps us connected to the locals in the areas we attend,” he says.
“Some of the people we first sold bread to back in 1997 at Paddington Markets are still loyal Sonoma fans.”
Jordan recommends bakers join a farmers markets, but only if they have a “great product at a reasonable price”.
Barossa Farmers Market, Angaston
The Barossa Valley is famous for its high-quality seasonal food and ingredients, and the Barossa Farmers Market allows locals and overseas visitors to gather their weekly supplies of fruit and veg. Sheltered within the market’s Vintners Sheds, Eleni Michau
sells handmade pastries, Italian breads, beef and red wine pies in sour cream pastry, chicken and leek pies, almond tarts, Swedish cinnamon buns and savoury quiches using locally sourced fresh produce.
Eleni has worked her stall for the past three-and-a-half years, with the Barossa Farmers Market accounting for about 30 per cent of her business. She says markets are a great way to trial new products and are great for customer feedback.
“The fact that people buy at farmers markets is because they believe that they are buying produce that comes directly from the stall holder market garden or kitchen,” Eleni says.
“My produce is all made by me and I am very conscious of keeping the produce that I use as local as possible as well as using environmentally friendly biodegradable packaging.”
Eleni’s breads are popular with tourists, with many Europeans commenting on how happy they are to have discovered it. The ciabatta is made in the traditional way from an authentic Italian recipe taught by an Italian master chef. The focaccia is made using bakers flour, fresh yeast, water, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt – using an original recipe borrowed from an “ex lover”.
Farm Gate Market, Hobart
Little Miss Muffin
Several bakeries sell fresh and organic product at Melville Street Farmgate Market in Hobart, Tasmania. Zum Bakery provides breads and croissants, Companion Bakery mill their own flours for its sourdough breads, while Little Missy Muffin sells classic and gluten-free products.
Little Missy Muffin has been selling classic French pastries, individual cakes and cream biscuits at Farm Gate Market from its onsite convection oven for almost two years. Owners Peter and Oonagh sell freshly baked turnovers, teacakes, muffins and cookies, along with a wide selection of gluten-free. They use local/fresh ingredients where possible and some organic ingredients, such as fruits, yoghurt, milk and free-range eggs.
According to Oonagh, the market embraces the ‘slow food’ movement and an ambience of community togetherness, with families and foodies equally catered to.
Peter and Oonagh originally owned a wholesale business with five staff for six years, but due to the economic downturn and personal reasons decided to restructure for a more balanced family life.
Little Missy Muffin is a small wholesale cake and pastry business with a “big ambition to succeed”. Eighty per cent of its sales come from the markets, with the remainder from wholesale. The market stall environment provides a captive audience and allows them to focus on direct customer service. A ‘shopfront’ platform without overheads or dependency of passing traffic has allowed them to build up a loyal customer base over time.
Peter manages the finances and buys the stock; bakes, and packages their signature cream biscuits; delivers to wholesale customers; and mans the markets, which includes baking onsite.
Oonagh has been a pastry chef for more than 20 years, which includes six years in Europe with Michelin Star chefs and five years in Melbourne working in fine dining restaurants.
She says she is glad to have made the change to a market stall business and highly recommends it to other bakers.
“It is a positive alternative to conduct business in the current economic climate with the depletion of the retail sector and the rise of conscientious consumers,” she says.