With one of New Brighton Farmers Markets’ biggest and busiest stalls, coronavirus social-distancing restrictions have forced local farmer Will Everest to make some big adjustments to the way he sells his fresh produce.
“We’ve basically split our stall in two,” he said.
“We mirror the produce on each side and have two lines, with someone serving on each side.”
Handling of produce and cash has been separated, and card payment introduced as an option.
The small-crop farmer says it’s been a “bit of an ironing out process” and he’s had to try a few layouts before finding one that works, but the changes have improved efficiency and made it easier for his staff.
“It’s come with its own benefit because it’s made people become more conscious of having to wait sometimes and do things a bit more orderly,” he said.
“It could be hard before to tell whose (customer) turn it was – before the new system. It just rolls through now.”
There’s another silver lining, too – more customers shopping at his stall.
Will says people who haven’t shopped at the markets in a while have returned, often because they are no longer working on that day.
There are new customers, too.
“People want to go out somewhere for the day, so they go to the farmers market and they realise that it’s actually good produce here and they’re coming back,” he said.
On Will’s stall, that produce currently includes new season kale, silverbeet, cabbage and broccoli, along with green beans, cucumbers, radish, sweet corn, capsicum, carrots, fennel, beetroot, papaya and Will’s award-winning bananas.
Everything is grown on the farm at Eungella, near Murwillumbah, where the Everest family has been farming for five generations.
Will joined the New Brighton market right back at the beginning – more than a decade ago – at a time when he thought he might have to give up farming altogether because times were tough on the farm.
The farm now continues to support Will, his mum and dad, his brothers Matt and Andy, and their families, who are also involved in the farm work, and it employs up to eight locals.