A friend of mine tells me that they were one of the more compelling reasons for her move to the Northern Rivers. Coopers Shoot Tomatoes, we’re looking at you! Or rather, I’m looking at co-owner Heather where we sit perched side by side at the back of the van behind their farmers market stall. After a break, this is only the third market they’ve done this season, but ‘it’s good to be back!’, says Heather.

It’s even better for the customers. One approaching woman tells Heather she wants to kiss her, and really, it’s entirely understandable, not only because of the quality of these exquisite tomatoes but also because of Heather herself, indefatigably warm to every single person. She’s a natural showman – or woman – but she’s also been doing it for about 25 years, purveying the intensely sweet produce at the various farmers markets.

The business took a bit of a break this year. Heather and husband Hugh, who started it all, had ‘taken a step back’ in 2018, passing the reins to son Tom. Tom and family are currently overseas so management has fallen to Hugh’s brother Matt, an ex-chef.  ‘So it’s all kept in the family’, Heather tells me, ‘and that’s the best thing.’

Tomatoes hate wet humid weather, but are definitely happy at the moment (‘they like hot and dry’, Heather says), as evidenced by the wondrous tumble of heirlooms, monsters some of them, weighing over a kilo apiece, and cherry tomatoes. Heather passes on to customers her favourite thing to do with them: serve with mozzarella (preferably Deb Allard’s) and good bread. ‘Keep it simple!”, she says. Why are they so good? Grown on the vine and kept there till ready; picked the day before a market; those heirloom seeds saved from season to season.

Coopers Shoot Tomatoes can be found every Tuesday at New Brighton from 8 -11am and every Friday at Mullumbimby from 7 – 11am

Victoria Cosford