Sammy Power, operator, Jan Powers Farmers Markets
We have to stay true to our foundation, but always look ahead – working closely with our stallholders and farmers ...
Let’s get our facts straight – farmers markets are not just a quaint weekend novelty for those that don’t enjoy sleeping in on weekends. Markets are a community institution, a meeting point for all comers and a great and inexpensive way to get your hands on some farm-fresh produce and sublime coffee. One of the biggest names in the Brisbane market scene is Jan Power, the figure responsible for the iconic range of Jan Powers Farmers Markets that can be found across Brisbane. The markets – currently operated by Jan’s daughter Sammy Power – have continued to showcase the best food and craft vendors in Queensland, drawing in attendees by the droves with its offer of quality goods and a great atmosphere. We caught up with Sammy Power to find what makes a market successful and what she loves about Brisbane.
The Jan Powers Farmers Markets have become a Brisbane institution over the years! What do you think is the secret for longevity in the market game?
Like any business, it’s no secret, it’s about moving forward whilst still keeping your core message. Ours is obviously farm fresh food, but you move with the times. These days you have turmeric, kale, chia seeds, acai bowls, a choice of great coffee and unusual new fads, but you also have to remember the people who still love a sausage in a bun, a bacon and egg burger or a potato cake! We have to stay true to our foundation, but always look ahead – working closely with our stallholders and farmers. Also we have concentrated a lot more on online advertising and social media.
Beyond being a great spot to stock up on groceries, what do you think local markets offer to the community?
A village heart, a central place to meet, talk, walk, mingle, to RE-CONNECT and be part of that village that seems to have been falling apart slowly all around us. The farmers markets were traditionally the heart of any community, and ours remains that. At grocery stores people shop anonymously with heads down, rushing to get through the check out, at the farmers markets, people socialise, they wander, the eat, graze and talk, they bring the dogs and the kids and friends.
What do you look for in prospective vendors to ensure they will fit the Jan Powers ethos?
We look for a great product, authenticity and a passion to sell it. We also check that we don’t already have more than two of it. Finally, signage and branding is a big factor, and a great display and the ability to communicate and talk.
In your opinion, what are some essentials that every farmers market needs?
Peace with fellow traders and a welcoming entry – one that says ‘we are the village heart’. Pride to be at a well-run market is important, and realising it’s an opportunity to showcase a product made with love. For the shoppers it’s important to have new stalls but also having all their favourites hopefully in the same spot or well signed if moved. Friendly, well-trained staff to help, fast service but also being able to talk to the grower or creator should they wish. I like the saintly feeling one gets being up early and buying lovely fresh food.
Who are some of your favourite local food producers right now?
If I answer that I will be killed! I adore any an all products that come from the farm, that are authentic and made with love.
As a Brisbane local, what it is about this city that you love the most?
During my radio career I lived in Sydney and Melbourne, but I adore Brisbane! This city has stormed ahead, and of course it has the best people in the world. It’s very easy to get around, you can actually buy a house in your lifetime, the council and local communities are always striving to put on great events – there’s something for everyone. Turn left and head for the glitzy Gold Coast, or turn right for the Sunshine Coast and its gorgeous Montville and Maleny run. Great chefs move here, as do designers, artists. We have it all.
If we rummaged through your grocery bag after shopping at the markets, what would we find?
Always lemons! I have a lemon water every morning. Also, I stock up on fresh herbs, tomatoes, almonds, lettuce, seafood, meat, and I often by the readymade salads. I always get Mum some kind of cake or bread, plus I will always buy a candle or a pair of sunglasses or an essential oil, an orchid and a bunch of flowers. Hmmm, I might need to buy a truck …
What are your essentials for a well-spent weekend?
Get up and at ‘em early to meet a few friends at the markets. I am my mother’s carer from Friday to Monday, so I either bring her market treats or take her out. I’ll try and get a yoga class in, and at the moment I’m getting fit for a 45k four day hike in the Adelaide flinders ranges with my good friend Denise Morecombe to raise funds for the Daniel Morecombe foundation.
What are some words of wisdom that you live by?
Don’t volunteer to walk 45 k when you only walk from the couch to the fridge normally. More is More. He who fears being conquered is certain of defeat. One day or day one – you decide.
Keen to hit the markets this weekend? You can find Jan Powers Farmers Markets at Brisbane Powerhouse on Saturday, in The City every Wednesday, at Manly every first and third Saturday and in Mitchelton on the first Sunday of every month.