Turnip & MFM: All the Melons

Melons, all the different kinds of melons, are in season and available at the Melbourne Farmers Markets (MFM) at the moment.
Here, in Turnip’s continuing collaboration with the MFM we talk to biodynamic farmer, Mark Rathbone from Save our Soil.
20170216_200534_resizedHow long has Save Our Soil been in operation and how did you get into farming?
Save our Soil has been in business since 1996 so we have been going for 20 years. I was born into farming my father started biodynamic farming in 1966 so I am a second generation biodynamic farmer. My father started with dairy cows but when he retired I went into vegetables.
What is it about farming and your produce that you love most? 
I love the ease of the biodynamic farming method and the excellent flavour it imparts to the produce. Also being an organic method of farming I like the clean aspect of it where no chemicals are used. Biodynamics is a closed farm system in that we develop the soil to grow the plants by itself. We increase the humus levels of the soil by adding the correct microbes and the humus fed plants provide the excellent flavour. In biodynamics there is no need to add organic or water soluble fertilisers.
 
Do you prefer some crops over others (or is that like asking you to choose a favourite child?)
I like the melon crops the most because when we put out samples for customers it immediately makes them smile when they taste the fantastic flavour. Some people even say they never liked watermelon until they tasted mine.
Melons are looking good at the moment, what types of melons are thriving right now and what should our readers look for when choosing melons to buy? 
 All the melons are thriving at the moment, we have many different sorts including mini reds and mini yellow watermelons, rockmelons and honeydews.
 Customers should look for a nice golden colour on the rockmelons. A small honey colour on the white skins of the honeydews. A yellow patch on the green skin of the mini yellow melons. And, a pale skin on the mini red watermelons.
20170212_134140_resizedIf you could tell people 2 to 3 points about why it’s good to buy seasonal and local produce what would they be? 
It’s my view that nature provides us with the correct nutrients throughout the season all we have to do is follow it. For example in the summer we need lots of water and the melons provide that. In the winter on the other hand we need lots of vitamins and minerals which the green crops provide, like broccoli, for example.
Why did you choose to sell through the MFM and how long have you been with them?
I have been with the Melbourne farmers markets for about six years and I went with them because I was introduced by another farmer. They have the best locations and integrity for quality produce.
Here are the MFM that Mark attends each month:

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