A Pop Up Farmers Market was held at one of the worst hit earthquake suburbs in Christchurch on Saturday morning. It was a chance for Mt Pleasant, Redcliffs, Sumner and Lyttelton locals to access fresh food in a safe community space.

Local organiser Tom Davies said he was overwhelmed with the turnout organised on very short notice, in a less than normal environment including households without power or water, closed roads and liquefaction on site.

“This was a market organised for our people by our people, with everyone pitching in to clean up the site or make homemade posters and signs. Information was spread by whatever means we could”.

Cam Booker, a vegetable grower, organised the stallholders who came from as far away as the Waipara Valley in North Canterbury. “Everyone wanted to help get fresh fruit, vegetables and bread to people who have had no supermarkets or any other food outlets open locally” he said. As well as selling vegetables, Cam bought down a pallet of free royal gala apples for people to help themselves.

Angela Clifford, grower & Canterbury food supporter was also involved in organising the market. “Some of the stallholders who were there have lost 85% of their business over the last week. They can’t stop their produce ripening but they now have no restaurants or other outlets to sell to. The earthquake has also put a temporary halt to the Lyttelton Farmers’ Market, another source of income for them.”

Coffee was free for locals and was made by a couple of guys whose CBD coffee cart business had been affected by the quake. The coffee beans came from a local Christchurch roastery who have lost just about everyone one of their retail outlets in the city.

The cost of the coffee was covered by the profits from another stallholder selling bread who donated the money to the market.

“The coffee queue was enormous” laughed Angela “but no-one was leaving it”. “Imagine how good your first coffee in 10 days tastes!”

Celebrity chef Jonny Schwass & Masterchef winner Brett McGregor cut up the onions for the BBQ. “We’re just trying to help build the community up from ground level and one of the best ways to do that is the good old-fashioned kiwi sausage sizzle”.

“We were offered so much support,” said Tom, “the Darfield community trucked in free drinking water that didn’t need to be boiled, and everyone brought down their containers to be filled”.

One of the most poignant moments was the singing from the Linwood school students. They were sharply dressed as they were going straight from the market to the funeral of their classmate who had been killed in the earthquake.

“It’s such an extraordinary time. The resilience of the human spirit is amazing – watching people hug and greet each other. It’s amazing what can grow from the dust and rubble.”

The Pop Up Farmers’ Market will happen again this coming Saturday 12 March from 10am to 1pm at the Mt Pleasant Community Centre, McCormacks Bay Rd Mt Pleasant Christchurch.

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