We’ve all seen it before, the sign on the side of the road inviting you to come and buy some locally grown produce. Often in a days driving you’ll pass by signs offering a huge range of products, driving from where I am in Denmark across to Albany a distance of just over 50km I passed roadside stalls selling vegetables, assorted fruits, jams and preserves, eggs, honey, fresh flowers and olive oil. All fantastically useful things, including the flowers which can get you out of trouble and into the good books. You almost wonder why you’d need to visit a supermarket, perhaps for a few staples like milk, bread and meat, but so many other products can be bought directly from the grower or the producer. Within a kilometer of where I’m staying there are two roadside stalls and both are on the way into town, more than once I’ve started on my way into town to get food supplies but after stopping at both stalls decided that I didn’t need to keep going into town, I had all I needed from the stalls.
The first one is at a place called ‘the Wollery’ a well known little alternative community that’s been there for many decades. Our family has known people who live here and when they claim their vegetables are ‘organic’, you know they are. Well, not accredited to an organic standard of any type, but they’re people who like to grow organically. It’s not the biggest vegetable stand you’ll find but you know the veggies and fruit are fresh every day, unlike what you buy in a supermarket. My favourite thing to buy here are their bags of salad mix in the esky, a great mix of assorted greens, lots of different lettuces, endive, rocket, tatsoi, mizuna and chard are some of the leaves I’ve managed to recognize, and they throw in an assortment of nasturtium flowers to colour it up.
A little further down the road is Laings road side stall and they have gone a little further, they are quite large in their set up compared with the Wolleries little shelf of goodies.
On the left is a small shade house where they sell an assortment of plants in pots, next time I visit them I’ll get some of their herbs, I figure I will be able to grow a couple of potted herbs in the bus. Then there’s the main area filled with foam boxes holding all the different vegetables fresh flowers and eggs. Notice behind the shed and through the window of the shed there’s a grey area of ground, you can just make out some green through the window, this is a field full of growing vegetables, you can actually see them growing.
These guys have all the basics you need 5 or 6 varieties of potatoes, 3 or 4 varieties of beans, fresh peas, onions, leeks, beetroot, zucchinis, cucumbers, tomatoes and corn, of course this will vary depending on the time of year and whats in season. At this time of year you’re spoilt for choice and tonight I’m going to be having some of their fresh corn on the cob.
You just can’t buy corn this fresh in any conventional shop, and another thing you can’t buy in any conventional shop, well at least not around Western Australia anyway, have a look at the potato below, they call this a ‘black congo’ potato, looking forward to trying these as well tonight. They look a little strange but aren’t they a magnificent colour inside.
Some people are wary of purchasing from a road side stall, saying that there are no controls or restrictions on the produce like there is in commercially bought produce in a supermarket. This may be true but personally I’d rather buy veggies from a road side stall than veggies which have been transported possibly thousands of kilometres, sometimes grown in other countries using questionable growing practices. Most if not all of these local growers eat their own produce and they sell to the locals in the area, so they aren’t out to rip you off or produce substandard product. I guess at the end of the day it’s up to you whether you buy from stalls or not and I’d suggest you use a little common sense.