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Roaring Traders

By Frank and Muriel Newman - We have had a tremendous response to the article about growers markets so we thought readers might be interested in a couple of the stories.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman 

We have had a tremendous response to the article about growers markets so we thought readers might be interested in a couple of the stories.

Owen writes, “For the last few years I have routinely – effectively every Saturday Morning – shopped at our local market at Mangawhai. It’s where people sell their own produce, but also sells books, bric-a-brac, power-tools, and other bits and pieces. The conventional theory is that the rise of these markets reflects a desire for fresh healthy food, and fruit and vegetables grown locally and in season rather than imported from far away, buying local and supporting local, supporting local cultivars, and eco-sourced native plants and so on.  They are also a good place to meet for a chat.

“Many who have retired to the country soon find the country-cottage is bursting at the seams, the bookshelves are overflowing, while numerous “priceless objects” grow mould in the garage. Indeed, last weekend, my wife and I decided to win back some space and earn some ready cash. Setting up a stall at the Mangawhai market was easy. We simply phoned the market organizer (from the local Cheese Shop) and booked a trestle table.

“Our stall space and trestle cost us only $10 for the morning. We thought our real cash-cow would be the plants and seedlings but the biggest and most regular seller was our collection of vinyl records dating from the sixties.  On our first morning we netted about $80. This represented about $20 dollars an hour – not huge but better than the minimum wage. On the other hand it was an $80 dollar return on our $10 dollar capital investment. And it was fun.”

Joy has a similar experience to share. Every week she leases a commercial kitchen in a local hall to do a big bake of scones, muffins, cakes and biscuits as well as preserves, jams, sauces, and loads of other delicious things. Then, on Saturday morning she heads off to her stall at the local farmers market and engages in a roaring trade to an ever growing crowd of satisfied consumers. That half a day of mutual exchange – trading in the way that artisans have for centuries – keeps her going for the rest of the week and helps fund the expansion of her lifestyle property.
Here are a couple of tips hot off the oily rag website:

  • K.W. from Romahapa writes, “We have recently lined the existing curtains in our house with new woollen blankets from the army surplus shop. The blankets are folded double and stitched together making an open ended bag which is then attached to the curtain at the top so that the completed article consists of three layers, being the original curtain and two thicknesses of woollen blanket. This has increased the average temperature in the house appreciably by reducing the heat loss through the glass. We believe this to be far more cost effective than double glazing. Our only heating is wood fires. We got enough blankets to do the whole of a three bedroom house plus a sleep-out for $500.”
  • Vikkin from Auckland writes, “Keep your grated cheese in the freezer. I get a big block (on special) grate and freeze it in a container. A quick shake frees it up and it is ready to use in sandwiches or as a topping. Pop it back into the freezer once you have taken out as much as you need. No more mouldy, disgusting lumps of cheese in the fridge and more importantly no waste.”

If you have some experiences of your local markets or favourite money-saving tips that you would like to share, please visit the oily rag website ( or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

 * Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at