To market, to market

With a shared passion for beautiful produce, Talia Smith and Lorraine Borg are partners in taste.

It’s 4am and Talia Smith of The Locals Market is in a van, en route to the Sydney Markets. She makes the journey every Saturday morning rain, hail or shine, to select fresh produce for her weekly vegetable bags.

The Locals Market launched two years ago on Talia’s mother’s rooftop in Potts Point. “It sprouted from a fascination with local produce – what was available in my region and educating myself on seasonal varieties and when we should be eating them,” Talia says.

Talia is a vegetable dealer, supplying an ever-growing number of inner city residents with a handpicked selection of produce. Her customers place their orders during the week and then collect from several pick up points across Sydney’s city and inner west.

“I source amazing produce from small, local farms good enough for our most exclusive restaurants, pack them in one recyclable calico bag for anyone to pick up and cook with at home.”

The bags are packed with a harvest that ranges from staples to surprises, and the produce is high quality, seasonal, locally grown and colourful. Having spent eight years as a chef, Talia likes to pepper her bounties with interesting and unheard of vegetables to encourage her customers to get creative with food.

“There will probably be at least one thing every week that you wouldn’t have had available to you in the past,” she says.

Talia’s passion for produce has attracted enthusiastic and health-conscious cooks, which in turn has seen her partner with the very best suppliers, like grower and farmer Lorraine Borg. “I immediately loved her honest and direct approach. Her produce is the best at the market and her passion is palpable,” Talia says. For the past 12 months Talia has been working with Lorraine on vegetable supplies for her bags.

Lorraine has earned her authority at the Sydney Markets with a strong work ethic, honest approach and consistently flavoursome fruit and vegetables. A modest five acres in Llandilo, New South Wales is where Lorraine works and lives, with her husband, daughter and son. “Our whole life revolves around the farm. But a lot of people are surprised at how small it is.” Up and about before midnight on Friday, Lorraine and Sam transport their weekly pickings to Stand 37 at Door One every Saturday, where they trade from the early hours.

“I source amazing produce from small, local farms good enough for our most exclusive restaurants, pack them in one recyclable calico bag for anyone to pick up and cook with at home.”

“Working with Lorraine is such a pleasure, she’s my go-to for interesting varieties and we both value good produce,” says Talia.

“We are on the same page,” echoes Lorraine. “We love colour, fresh produce, unusual varieties and we both enjoy what we do.”

Selecting the contents of a vegetable bag for The Locals Market is never a straightforward task for Talia. It’s as much built on instinct as it is experience. “I try to combine root vegetables with softer vegetables like zucchini and squash but I always aspire to cover all the colours – green, red, yellow, purple and orange.”

Most of her produce is allocated during the week, and though she navigates the market labyrinth with aplomb, the allocations are not always reliable. There have been times where she’s been left with rotten boxes underneath perfectly formed produce, so she’s grateful to have met Lorraine, whose honesty and responsiveness are second to none.

While the winter months are known for leafy greens, coloured carrots, tender parsnips, whole mini pumpkins and cauliflower, spring offers a new type of harvest. As we shake off the cold, spring veggies like peas, zucchinis, squash, broad beans, cucumbers and celery become more plentiful and stone fruits like cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums are in abundance. Lorraine’s farm is renowned for yielding Lebanese zucchini. Recognised for a sweet, nutty flavour and edible skin, the courgette can be steamed, used in stir-fries and zucchini slice or even pickled.

For Talia spring evokes thoughts of “white asparagus… I steam it and enjoy with butter, a squeeze of lemon, a splash of good quality Australian extra virgin olive oil and lots of sea salt and pepper. I also really love sweet snow pea tendrils. and blood oranges are so refreshing.”

Pop in to see Lorraine and Sam at the Sydney Markets, and order a vegetable bag from Talia at thelocalsmarket.com.au

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