Follow the White WabBit to the Artisan MarketANGELA CROMPTON
Want something to do on Saturday mornings in Blenheim?
"Follow the White Wabbit," urges Heather Jameson, one of the 60-plus stallholders at a new Marlborough Artisan Market opening today.
White Wabbit labels are tied on all of Heather's products and chalked bunnies and arrows pointing to the market in the Wynen St car park will guide the way on town centre footpaths.
Husband Peter is the Artisan Market manager so it makes sense for Heather to take extra steps to help the new weekly fair succeed. If it does, everyone stands to gain, the couple say.
The market is a joint project between Blenheim businesses, Marlborough stallholders and the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce. It will showcase the diversity of what Marlborough has to offer, attract people into a communal meeting space and help everyone feel good about being in Blenheim.
Market goods will not compete with those in retail stores or those sold in the car-boot sale outside the Blenheim railway station, Peter says.
"We're not doing second-hand ... the car boot sale has its place and people have worked hard to make that work. Nobody coming to the Artisan market is selling from the boot of a car."
All goods at the market must be either sourced in Marlborough, made in Marlborough or made by Marlborough people, he adds. The region extends from Kaikoura in the south and into the Rai Valley and the Marlborough Sounds in the north.
Heather, best known around Blenheim as a jazz musician and music teacher, will be selling her White Wabbit goods from a tiny teardrop caravan. She got it from a cousin who built it in the 1980s, copying a popular 1950s-caravan style.
"It's basically a double bed on wheels," Heather laughs. A rear hatch originally designed as a shelter for campers preparing food, provides perfect cover for selling her wares.
White Wabbit tags will be tied to a range of goods, including home-crafted foods. Heather will practise making them in her home kitchen but her market fare will be made in "Judy", a caravan that market co-ordinator Chris Thoms has had registered as a commercial kitchen. In some other countries, food can be prepared for sale in home kitchens if they have been certified healthy, Heather says. She won't be breaking any New Zealand health safety laws, though.
"We don't want to kill someone!" she exclaims.
"Imagine that - death by White Wabbit."
Her passion for food almost equals that of her love of music and she blames her mother. The older woman had taught Heather to cook a three-course meal on a coal range by the time she was 9 years old, she laughs.
Kitchen skills came in handy when Heather and Pete were newly married and doing their Big OE. In Berkshire, England, they got jobs in a three-storey Georgian manor house, Peter a butler and Heather the cook.
She had to prepare breakfasts, lunches, afternoon teas and dinners and one day she received a £50-pound tip after making and decorating a New Zealand-style pavlova
Food tastes best if it looks pretty, Heather reckons, and she used that principle when she had a Marlborough Farmer's Market stall selling little cup cakes, chocolate eclairs and toffee tumbles. Fresh versions of those may appear at White Wabbit stall in the Artisan Market and savoury treats will be offered, too.
"I want to get into foods you can put on platters."
The Jamesons urge people to support the new market. The 9.30am to 1.30pm fair follows a growing realisation around the world that the global economy isn't bringing profits to local communities.
"If the market is a success, then Blenheim and Marlborough will grow and everyone will benefit," Peter says.
- The Marlborough Express