Maitland produce market is Australia's first Slow Food Maitland Earth Market

Maitland produce market links local producers with shoppers in the city’s heart.

It gives farmers direct access to customers and allows them to receive a fair price for their crop.

In return, shoppers know exactly where their food comes from and how it has been grown.

They go home with a freshly harvested, or recently made product, that has a long shelf life. 

When is it?

Where is it?

The Levee, central Maitland. 

Stalls are spread between Bulwer Street and Maitland Post Office.

What time is it on?

What can I buy there?

Drop into The Levee on market day and you’ll find a wide range of seasonal fruit and vegetables, eggs, honey, meat, cheese, bread and pastries and flowers. 

Take a look at our virtual shopping list and start planning your menu. 

What can I eat at the market?

You’ll smell the aromas of the Market Kitchen before you see the simmering pot. 

Slow Food Hunter Valley leader and chef Amorelle Dempster cooks a different dish from local ingredients at each market.

Shoppers can buy the dish to eat it there, or take it home. 

The cost of the dish goes towards buying equipment to expand the market. 

Click on the picture to take a virtual cooking class in the Market Kitchen. 

Who does the market support?

Fourteen producers and a handful of backyard growers now call the market home.

When it started in May last year there were only a handful of farmers bringing their food to the market.

Selling at the market gives producers a fair price for their product and offers shoppers fresh local food.

Meet the producers 

Australia’s first earth market

Maitland produce market is the first farmer's market in the country to join the worldwide earth market movement. 

It is the 60th earth market in the globe.

Seventeen countries run earth markets to connect producers and shoppers, and preserve local food culture. 

The market will be launched on August 3 during the 2017 Slow Food of Australia national conference. 

How did the market start?

Much of the Hunter’s best farmland is being engulfed by development as the demand for housing soars. 

This series looked at the need to balance the need to eat with the need for shelter.

Matthew Dennis and Tony Milburn were about to plough their 40-tonne pumpkin crop back into the earth in March 2016.

They barely break even when they send the crop to the Sydney markets and pay transport and production costs.  

It’s cheaper to plough it back into the earth and start again. 

But not this time. 

When Fairfax Media journalist Belinda-Jane Davis and Slow Food Hunter Valley leader Amorelle Dempster heard about the farmer’s plight they got to work organising the biggest pumpkin stall Maitland had ever seen.

With Maitland council’s blessing, thousands of shoppers came to buy a pumpkin, or a few, in The Levee and paid the farmer a fair price. 

Some waited in line for more than an hour to purchase a pumpkin. 

The farmers had to go back to the farm and pick more pumpkins to meet the demand. They couldn’t believe their eyes.

Shoppers were outraged at the prices farmers received for their food and called for a regular produce market where farmers could sell their crops. 

Fairfax Media echoed those calls and Slow Food Hunter Valley took on the challenge and organised a monthly market. 

The first one was held in May 2016 with a handful of farmers, including the pumpkin farmers. 

How has the market grown?

Farmers have changed the way they grow food to meet shopper demand.

They realised growing hectares of crops didn’t work when they were selling direct to customers, so they started planting smaller amounts and growing a bigger range. 

Still hungry for more?

Take a look at the journey through the lense of Fairfax Media’s photographers Jonathan Carroll, Max Mason-Hubers and Marina Neil.

Want to get involved?

We’d love to hear from you!

Email belinda-jane.davis@fairfaxmedia.com.au