Farmers' market on the move

20:57, Mar 30 2014
Southern Farmers Market
FRUITY TREATS: Wes Reichel, of Millers Flat, reflects on his last day selling fruit at the Southern Farmers Market at the Southland Boys’ High School venue. He is looking forward to the market’s move to Scottish Hall.

There's nothing better than a juicy apple, something Wes Reichel knows all too well.

The Millers Flat man has never moved away from his family orchard in Central Otago, but every Sunday makes the journey to Invercargill for the farmers' market, picking up his sister, Rowena Panting, in Heriot along the way.

The pair set up their tables each week, lay out their fruit and chat to the regulars who come past for their weekly bags of fruit and vegetables at the Southern Farmers Market.

The family have been selling their home-grown fruit at the market since day one - seven years ago.

But this Sunday the market will move to its new premises at the Scottish Hall, something Reichel is looking forward to.

He will don his kilt for the occasion, and like every week for the past seven years, will be there rain or shine.


"I think it is actually going to be very positive."

The third generation on Te Mahanga orchard, Reichel credits farmers' markets with saving small family orchards.

A lot had changed since he first took over from his parents in 1971, supermarket chains had taken over, families sold their orchards to big businesses and many had struggled to keep their lifestyles profitable, he said.

"It got to the stage where there was no money in it."

But farmers' markets had kept the small orchards afloat and Reichel goes to the one in Dunedin on Saturday and the one in Invercargill on Sunday.

He admits the lifestyle won't make him a millionaire, but it was meeting the people and working with his family that made it worth it.

"When you are up in the middle of the night to keep the frost off the fruit and it's freezing, you think, 'why the hell am I doing this'?"

Despite the cold nights, he plans to continue the early morning drives to Invercargill for at least another five years, by then he will be 70 and he thinks he will probably deserve a weekend sleep-in.

Southern Farmers Market committee member Dave Kennedy said the market would be up and going on Sunday at 9.30am at the Scottish Hall.

Everything was ready. The only thing they were hoping for was sunshine.


The Southland Times