In many temperate societies, the advent of spring marked the beginning of a time referred to as "the hungry gap".
Last year's passata, made with summer's fragrant and abundant tomatoes, simply won't last forever. And that jar of home-grown and -made apricot jam is finished.
In earlier times, when last season's stores were fast-depleting and there were as yet no fresh crops to harvest, hunger stalked many communities. Meals might often incorporate wild harvested "weeds" such as chickweed, mallow and nettles, easy to find on roadsides and the edge of fields (yes, even today!).
In Victoria we have a wide range of climates. Farming areas along the sunny Murray in particular are productive throughout the year. Diverse landscapes, glasshouses, refrigerated, hi-tech storage options and long-distance transport alternatives mean Victorians need never experience a hungry gap.
At the VFMA we embrace and celebrate seasonal production, even at its ebb. We don't pretend summer's abundance beckons year-round. The beauty of food is that it varies through the year. These limitations give rise to food cultures that are truly reflective of place and make our diets more interesting.
Enjoy what's on offer at your local VFMA farmers' markets this coming week! Google some new recipes and keep your eyes peeled for something you've not tried before, like roadside nettles in a soup or a verdant dandelion salad. Magic! What's your favourite spring recipe?