The powerful family bond behind the Powerhouse markets

The powerful family bond behind the Powerhouse markets

An interview with Astrid Gates, the daughter of Jan Power and the Jan Powers Farmers Markets Managing Director.

By Evie Drinnan

Jan Power

Tell me a bit about you.

Having had a long career in banking, this job doesn’t feel like work at all. I’m continuing mum’s passion, and it’s an absolute privilege and delight. I do the accounts, books, and rounds at the markets.

What did Jan do before she started the markets?

Mum has had lots of careers and businesses: registered nurse, owner of a rhubarb farm at Mt Tamborine, a children’s shop called Tadpoles, a catering company, and various restaurants including Her Majesty’s Behind, located behind Her Majesty’s Theatre. She was a food critic for the Courier Mail, and had TV shows. She was very well known.

How did Jan’s childhood shape her future in markets?

Mum was born at Glen Innes and grew up on two sheep stations, one of which had the most amazing cherry trees.

Because of her country childhood and life experience, she knew a lot of farmers. They started calling her, asking how to sell their products.

She leased a car park behind James St in New Farm and the markets were born. Her farming contacts sold their produce out the back of trucks, and eventually set up stalls. That was 32 years ago.

In 2000, she got a lease at the Powerhouse, and the markets have been there ever since.

Why are farmers markets so important?

A farmers’ market has to supply at least 80% produce, plants and food. They allow people to support farmers directly, especially seasonal growers such as fig or berry farmers, who only have 4-6 weeks to sell their fresh produce.

There’s nothing like buying something fresh, picked yesterday. The flavour is out of this world. It hasn’t been stored, so it lasts a long time.

Coles is now pretending to do different types of tomatoes like at a market, they obviously see markets as a threat. But they could never get someone like our tomato stall-holder, David D’Vash, to supply their tomatoes. He plays classical music and sings to his tomatoes. Coles cannot compete with that!

What sets Jan Powers Farmers Markets apart from other markets in Brisbane?

The quality. Mum is very strict about it. If your product is not up to scratch or if your stall doesn’t look good, you’re out. We get 20 stall applications a week, but we only accept the very best, around 11%.

Also, we are a continuous family-run enterprise. Mum still owns it, I’m managing director, my husband does the photography, website and social media, and my three daughters contribute. Emily is the events manager and general manager, and the other two help with the social media on top of their full-time jobs. We have also hired a market manager.

One of the wonderful artisan stalls at the markets.

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