Ray Goddard holds up a bag of Jersey Bennes, which he had
just sold to a customer, on Saturday. Photo by Gregor
When he sold the last of his Jersey Benne potatoes on
Saturday, it was the end of an era for Otago Farmers Market
founding member Ray Goddard.
Ill health has forced the 67-year-old Sawyers Bay market
gardener to retire, and the weekend's Christmas market was
his last as a vendor.
Persistent rain meant there were fewer people, but Mr Goddard
sold out by 8.45am.
He is proud of what the market achieved by circumventing the
hold of supermarkets on the fruit and vegetable business.
He deplores the increasingly centralised food system.
A proposal to produce hospital patient meals in Christchurch,
and Foodstuffs' plan to downgrade Dunedin's distribution
warehouse were the most recent examples of a ''ridiculous''
system, he said.
It meant people ate produce harvested up to a week ago,
rather than the previous day.
When the weekly market was proposed it faced resistance, and
he credits former Dunedin mayor Sukhi Turner with helping
overcome the bureaucratic hurdles.
It was established in 2003.
Otago Farmers Market general manager Kate Vercoe said the
veteran grower would be missed.
And his absence would not be readily filled, because not many
young market gardeners were emerging.
Numbers were down on Saturday, but patronage was steady and
the rain did not deter people from buying produce.
They were less likely to linger and buy hot food.