We’ve lost something somewhere in the shadows of the imposing shopping centres that dominate the skylines of even our smallest communities.
Once the local marketplace was the centre of the universe, the place where we went not just to buy our food, but to meet our neighbours.
We’ve been distracted by the apparent convenience and variety of the modern mall for decades now and the sight of a farmer personally hawking his produce all but vanished.
With the rise and rise and rise and rise of the supermarket, we largely forgot that there was a lot more to the humble market stall than just grocery shopping.
Now, slowly but surely, we’re starting to remember.
Not all old style markets disappeared but there are now a host of new ones sprouting up around the country as the farmers market and community market movement gathers pace.
It’s not just the Rotarians anymore.
Town planners and every day citizens are recognising the value in a communal meeting spot that can boost business and tourism, while delivering to the public a special sense of place and community that we seem to lose when we cram out every convenience into a large concrete box.
The farmers’ market movement has gathered pace quickly around the country and, of course, local politicians everywhere are starting to clamour for their own marketplace again.
Whether it’s the Newcastle City Farmers Market, the Dungog Growers Market or the Islington Markets, Handmade in the Hunter Markets or one of the scores of others, a region like the Hunter has more on offer than almost any other place in Australia.
So it’s time to get out there and search our local communities and to turn shopping from a chore to social event, just like it used to be.
You never know what you might find or who you might meet as you wander between the market stalls instead of the crowded aisles.