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River Traders Continue the Market Heritage

River Traders Continue the Market Heritage

Every Saturday morning Whanganui’s downtown riverbank bustles with the sights and sounds of a thriving community market. Rain or shine between 50 and 100 stall holders at the Whanganui River Traders and Farmers Market set out an impressive array of locally grown and freshly cooked produce, artwork, crafts and furniture, clothing, second-hand goods and more. Many stallholders started up their businesses at the market, and it continues to be their shop front and point of contact with customers.

Annette Main, who started the market nine years ago, is one of the original eight stallholders. Known then as “The River Traders” the market site was chosen for its strong connection to early trading in the area.

Annette and her late husband John began selling avocados from their property on the Whanganui River. Since then she has developed her own range of products that includes macadamia dukkah, and raspberry vinegar made from locally grown produce.

Annette is Mayor of Whanganui and during the past four years the stall has enabled her to connect personally with the community, so much so that she has employed two people to work on the stall so she can talk with people about their concerns.

“I love it - the riverside setting, the huge diversity of stalls and locally made products. It has a great community feel about it. And I especially love hearing the stories of how people who visited Whanganui visited the markets and other places, and decided to move here,” Annette says.

Litza Devine started her baking business, Devine Treats, seven years ago at the River Traders Market. She now supplies local cafes with her delicious sweet treats and does catering from her commercial kitchen at home using local products.

“The market is an important, regular social event for the community,” Litza says. “I’ve made so many friends and the business is now really well established.”

Simply Wrought Iron wows punters with their beautifully crafted creations – wood stackers, braziers, gumboot holders and outdoor furniture.

“The feedback and interaction with people makes it so worthwhile,” says owner, Graeme Kiff, “The market is our main outlet and our most rewarding business promotion.”

His work is “floating around” New Zealand with candelabras and gumboot holders in Auckland, Waiheke Island and Featherston.

At The Bloom Theory stall James Chatterton and Mike Cheyne sell their tasty craft beer and Mash Tun crackers, which they make out of the grain left over from brewing. The crackers are in hot demand from Moore Wilsons in Wellington and Ambrosia Delicatessen in Whanganui. The beer has local “botanical” points of difference – such as the Taranaki dairy farm milk stout and the popular roasted dandelion root beer.

“It’s like a liver tonic,” James says, “so you remove your hangover as you get it.”

They brew the beer at a commercial brewery and try out their experiments from “the field” on friends. (see http://thebloomtheory.co.nz/)

“You can add bitterness to beer with any herbs. We take all sorts of strange things the environment throws at us and refine them through brewing.”

They brewed heather and yarrow in their mobile brewery on Mt Ruapehu. A new commercial “Whanganui “brew made with acorns from Kowhai Park has had good uptake at the market.

The longest queue at the market, in front of Dotto’s cart, is for gluten free French crepes Whanganui style.

“It’s unusual if we’re not flat out,” says Graham Lilliington, whose wife Jane and friend Jenny started the business five years ago. “We’re fortunate in being right next door to the coffee so I can just shout out for a latte. We do a swap – I give them crepes.” Roast pumpkin and feta, and cheese and ham fillings are favourites and then there are the sweet crepes such as raspberry and chocolate or banana and maple syrup.

“People say it’s such a cool market. We’ve had regulars since day one. People come from Hastings and Wellington just for the crepes. And they arrange to meet at the crepe stall.”

And he says the secret to making crepes is to relax and go with the flow - a mood that market goers and stallholders enjoy at the end of every week.

Whanganui River Traders and Farmers Market is open Saturdays 8.30am to 1pm.


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