Fresh and local takes pride of place

Rebecca TurnerCountryman
Maggie Edmonds runs a produce farm stall in the Swan Valley.
Camera IconMaggie Edmonds runs a produce farm stall in the Swan Valley. Credit: Countryman

Encouraging people to be locavores and eat from the region, in season and fresh is the principal of Maggie's Place, a farm stall operated by 2008 West Australian Rural Industries Regional Development Commission Rural Women's Award winner Maggie Edmonds.

Maggie has been running her stall in the Swan Valley for five years after winning the WA award and being runner up for the Australian RIRDC Rural Women's Award in the same year.

"I used the $10,000 bursary from winning the WA RIRDC Rural Women's Award towards setting up Maggie's Place in the hope my farm stall will facilitate a stronger relationship between the public and WA growers," she said.

Maggie's Place provides its customers with a fantastic variety of local, in-season WA produce such as figs, stone fruit, citrus, strawberries, mangoes, mulberries, melons, broad beans, heirloom carrots, yellow and red beetroot, swedes, leeks and radishes.

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As well as amazing fruit and vegetables, Maggie's Place has a great variety of local preserves, jams and honey, pistachio and macadamia nuts (when in season), duck and free-range chicken eggs, proteas, Geraldton wax and kangaroo paws.

Maggie said the Swan Valley was the perfect location for running her farm stall with not only local customers but both national and international visitors to the region often stopping in to sample some of the best produce WA has to offer in a farm-direct venue.

Maggie has four A4 pages of contacts of WA growers that supply in-season produce to her stall throughout the year.

"I buy farm direct from 22 regular growers and producers of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as free range eggs and other produce," she said.

Maggie collects all her produce personally in a special van each week prior to opening the stall on Friday afternoons, and Saturday and Sunday.

"It has been the best fun and I find it an absolute pleasure offering people the best quality produce WA can produce," she said.

Maggie said she met interesting people through running her farm stall and the interactive nature of Maggie's Place provided an important link between farmers and consumers.

"I see all of life here, people enjoy the contact they get shopping here, apart from the amazing quality of fresh fruit and vegetables available we also provide an experience where people can taste the produce they are interested in buying as well as talk to us and find out where the food they are buying is from," she said.

"I really love supporting and representing WA farmers on this level."

_Sourced from the Swan Valley _

Eating in season is a big focus of Maggie's Place. To ensure the best farm-direct and locally produced fruit and vegetables are available from her stall, Maggie will drive wherever she needs to in the Swan Valley and surrounding areas.

"I make regular trips to Chittering, Gingin, Wanneroo and past Karragullen in the Perth Hills," she said.

Sourcing from the Swan Valley is a priority, including from Edgecombe Brothers, which owns the premises that Maggie's Place is located.

Not only is Maggie dedicated to ensuring she provides fresh local produce, she is also the driving force behind producing locally value-added products such as jams and preserves made from excess local produce not sold from her stall each week.

All fresh produce not sold over the weekend is used to make other products or fed to Maggie's neighbour's sheep in Bindoon on Sunday night.

Maggie, who retired from farming her own block in Gingin three years ago, used to grow passionfruit vines and olives, which she would produce olive oil, olive products and passionfruit products from.

"Sadly since selling the property it has been neglected," she said.

"However, I am now seeing people who used to come to our old property in Gingin to pick their own olives coming into the farm stall."

While retired from farming, Maggie is still busy working at least five days a week, although the farm stall is only open to the public for two-and-a-half days a week. She said she was enjoying every minute of her work and planned to continue running the stall for a long time yet.

"I love going out to all the farms and talking to our local producers, hearing their problems and passing on the reality of farming to my customers," she said.

While Maggie is dedicated to continuing her farm stall, she is in a bit of a dilemma to find a new premises in the Swan Valley for her stall.

Her lease with Edgecombe Brothers ends in September and due to the current licensing arrangements in the Swan Valley, she has yet to find a suitable venue.

"The current Maggie's Place has a special licence, granted years ago that stays with the premise," Maggie said. "I will have been fortunate to enjoy six years open every weekend in my current farm stall premise; however, it is my landlord's right not to renew my lease."

The WA Minister for Planning is expected to respond to a report on proposed future land use and management in the Swan Valley early this year.

The report, Swan Valley land use - the way forward, has created some controversy in the region; however, Maggie said she was hopeful the report could pave the way for better licensing arrangements.

"It must be said that the Swan Valley is a great place to visit, live in or near and these two sectors must be protected if and when new eyes look at the current regulations," she said.

Despite her current concern over finding new premises, she was still making future plans for Maggie's Place including concentrating more on fruit, which includes all produce with seeds so would mean she still sold tomatoes, avocadoes.

"I find that is what nobody else does and its what people are craving," she said.

Maggie's Place is near the corner of Gnangara and West Swan Roads along Gnangara Road. It is open Friday afternoons 1-5pm and Saturday, Sunday and public holiday Mondays from 8.30am to 4.30pm.

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