When New Brighton Farmers Market and Mullumbimby Farmers Markets began in 2007 and 2010 respectively, Rainforest Foods were one of the founding market stalls. Now, many years later, their products speak to the fundamentals of the farmers’ market community.
‘A bit before that time it was amazing that Byron Shire didn’t have a farmers’ market,’ said Rainforest Foods owner, Anthony Hotson. ‘It was around the turn of this century that more locals became more motivated about of the importance of food autonomy and regional resilience and the farmers’ market network has been amazing in this regard. Many farmers used to sell through the wholesale market, and barely got a thanks for their product. Now at the farmers’ markets they experience the appreciation that customers give back – socially, economically and environmentally; all wins.
‘Selling our products this way gives a great sense of connection to community and the conversations we have with customers keeps our business fresh, it’s our favourite way of selling our farm produce’.
Anthony’s interest in native food plants came from travelling in 1993 through Central America, in particular Costa Rica, where he took part in field trips with the National Biodiversity Institute, and on his return, looked into the value of local rainforest plants, establishing Rainforest Foods’ orchards to raise awareness of the biodiversity value of our original plant communities.
There are remnants of the original rainforest on the Tuckombil property, where orchards of macadamia nuts, Davidson plum, native limes, aromatic essential oil plants, and Acronychia grow, all of which are used to produce Rainforest Foods’ value-added products. The quality and freshness is far and away superior to store bought products. ‘From personal experience people really do love to know the provenance of the products they take home, that and the authenticity; we grow all the nuts and fruit we use in our market products on our farm’.
If Anthony had to name a favourite it would be the macadamia spread, ‘We go through two kilos every few weeks, added to everything, with honey or miso’.
Anthony’s favourite use is, however, in baked pears.