By David Schout
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree but in the case of Market Organics owner Wendy Edwards, the phrase takes on a whole new meaning.
Since she was three weeks old, Wendy has been making the regular pilgrimage to Queen Victoria Market (QVM).
Her family’s apple orchard in Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula would sell their produce in the old wholesale market in C Shed, and they spent many an early morning at the Melbourne institution.
For Wendy, it was on the orchard that the hard work ethic was instilled, and to this day she works seven days a week.
Speaking to CBD News at her stall in I Shed, she doesn’t stop to consider whether it’s taking a toll.
“It’s just what we do,” she said with a shrug.
“My brother does it, my Mum and Dad still do it. Dad turns 80 soon and he still works seven days on the orchard. I don’t know whether it’s a good work ethic, but it’s definitely there!”
Twelve years ago the previous owner of the stall, who bought the family’s apples wholesale, decided to sell, and Market Organics was born.
Wendy, who had worked for many years in a bank alongside helping out at the family’s orchard, soon took over the stall and has been doing so ever since.
Alongside fresh produce, Market Organics sells a selection of organic, bio-dynamic, vegan and gluten-free grocery products.
This not only includes household staples such as bread, milk and eggs, but spices, nuts, pulses, grains, flours, tea, coffee, spreads and tofu.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, one particular line of produce is the most popular.
“People like our apples. It’s really nice when I hear them say ‘your apples are beautiful’. It makes me feel great. I’ll ring up my Dad and brother and say ‘our apples are really good’,” she said with a smile.
Wendy said one of the pleasing parts of her role was seeing regulars come back to the store, and seeing young families grow over time.
She said that most of her customers travelled into the city, and that business had suffered from people seeking their fresh produce online rather than in-person.
While business was sometimes tough, she remains resilient.
“I know that at least I’m doing good for some people who need organic fruit and veg. Some people have allergies, some have other issues – at least I know we’re providing a valuable service for them,” she said.
Market Organics is one of just two certified organic retailers at QVM, something Wendy is proud of.
Unlike many businesses that fashionably splash “organic” branding on their products, her stall has been formally audited and certified, a process she said was “really hard”.
She enjoys the varying seasons and the produce that comes with it.
“We’ve just finished cherry season and the cherries were beautiful this year. It’s a good time of the year,” she said.
But does she have a preferred season?
“It’s all good. Actually, even though I don’t like the cold so much the winter is probably better because the fruit and veg stand up a bit easier in the cool.”
Market Organics is located under I Shed, stall 46-55.