Autumn is by far my favourite season. I love the colour the leaves turn before they fall and I love Autumn produce. The weather starts to cool and I can bring my scarves (or at the moment, scarf) out, my favourite accessory. So I’m so happy to have landed in the town of Manjimup in the Southern Forests of WA for Easter, where it turns out I can enjoy all of these things!
When I lived in Japan almost ten years ago now, there would be little veggie patches dotted in between homes around my neighbourhood, and that produce would go to the local independent supermarket a hundred metres down the road. You would walk out with your week’s food for about twenty bucks.
Ever since then I’ve always tried to buy local seasonal produce, organic where possible. But thanks to the ridiculous duopoly of Coles and Woolworths, it is bloody hard to do this in Australia, particularly when traveling!
In the past I’ve refused to buy fruit and veg from Coles and Woolworths where possible because firstly and most importantly they screw over the farmers they buy from in the name of their own profit and secondly their produce is crap and expensive. (Good article on this herehttps://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2014/august/1406815200/malcolm-knox/supermarket-monsters)
I also refuse to buy the supermarket brands for the same reason. But I’ve fortunately lived close enough to the Queen Vic and Prahan markets over the years so sticking to this kind of consuming ethos hasn’t been much an issue. Markets like the Slow Food Farmers market at the Abbotsford Convent are even better because you can buy direct from the grower, ask questions about their produce and know that it’s organically grown and super fresh.
However, traveling from area to area, Woolworths or Coles usually seems to be the only option – at least, we don’t know the areas well enough to find a local fruit and veg place. I would’ve thought we would find one in the same complex as the Woolies like you usually do back home, but that hasn’t been the case. So through gritted teeth I have been spending about $120 on a shop that would have been about $80 back home for substandard produce.
That is until we arrived here in Manjimup and learnt that there was a farmers market on Easter Saturday! And road side food stalls everywhere! This area is considered to be the food bowl of WA, and it’s the home of the pink lady apple, although a bit too early for them yet. There are apple orchards, avocado orchards (is that what they are even called?), pumpkins, plums, figs, pears – all my favourite autumn produce can be bought direct from the grower. We bought a whole watermelon for $2, 16 passionfruit for $4, a bag of 5 figs for $2, a bag of apples for $3, a bag of potatoes, two pumpkins, three corn, four avocados, a whole cauliflower and more for under 50 bucks total. So we may have gone a bit overboard but I’m in local produce heaven right now and hopefully will be until well into next week.
So needless to say we have both loved spending Easter in this area. We’ve enjoyed some local organic wine in Pemberton, some truffle dishes at the Truffle and Wine company cafe and taken strolls through the beautiful karri forests and autumn foliage. Plus we have a truckload of produce to take with us as we move on to the Margaret River and up towards Perth.
Is there really anything better than enjoying a glass of wine and cooking a meal over the campfire, catching glimpses of the stars through the tall trees of the forest? I’m starting to think not.
Edit: Poor Mable got over-run with ants at the campsite. Every day I was madly brushing them off, some neighbouring campers who were having similar issues found it most amusing and said I was obsessed! I even dreamt that they had gotten inside and were everywhere (which I was stressed about before I went to sleep) and thinking it was real woke Jason up to deal with it! So just in case I was making the camping life seem super easy and joyous, I’m here to tell you it ain’t always that way!