If you’ve visited the Market Garden in the last couple of summers you’ll have seen the glorious rows of exuberant greens, the edible jungle that is the growing plot, and the greenhouse packed with neat rows of heritage tomatoes. And then there’s that airy shed stocked with racks of seeds for things both common and obscure. It was easy to miss, though, tucked away on Bella Street, in spite of the beautiful sign.
Tucked away no more, the Market Garden man has taken over the lease to the Oceanic Market on Catherine Street.
The face of the Oceanic is about to change, newly designed and introducing new dry products like flour, nuts, and edible seeds, produce and local planting seeds. You’ll be able to walk through the Oceanic to the Market Garden in the back. Plans for a community gathering hub are in the works, as is a demonstration kitchen for canning and take-away foods.
“You won’t recognize it,” says Ryan.
Ryan, who runs the market, is quietly bursting with enthusiasm for his new venture, which he’ll be sharing with long-time Oceanic employee, Ian. While his eye is on organic, local products, in practice he includes farmers who grow organically but aren’t certified. Fair trade products, like avocados from Mexico, will also stock the shelves.
But not everything will change. The Oceanic will continue to sell products the community has relied on for decades, such as cigarettes and lotto tickets. How does that fit with the program? you may ask, but it makes sense given Ryan’s sensitivity to the needs of the community. He wants to build on the success of the former owner, not destroy it, and he values the current customers.
Food security to Ryan includes selling local Vic Westers’ produce and finding a system that’s fair to sellers, customers and him as a buyer, and is also keen to hear our ideas for products. He is open to offering vegetable waste to local chicken owners, and has agreed to sell a home-made line of soaps for a local.
Excessive waste from packaging is a gremlin Ryan is wrestling with, so we may see some colourful incentives to be spare with our bags. Selling products with returnable containers, like Avalon Dairies milk, is one solution.
As more of us appreciate what food security really means, having an (mostly) organic market in the ‘hood is great news. We can support it by letting Ryan know what we would like to see, then actually buying it if he brings it in. Don’t forget to bring your bags!