Market to star Faith no more

LAST DAY: Faith Newham, right, with assistant Gina Crane, at Byron Farmers’ Market last Thursday. It was the last day Faith sold her organic sourdough breads at the market.
LAST DAY: Faith Newham, right, with assistant Gina Crane, at Byron Farmers’ Market last Thursday. It was the last day Faith sold her organic sourdough breads at the market.

LOVERS of freshly baked organic bread are facing a hole in their lives - and in their tummies.

Faith Newham, who creates a delicious assortment of sourdough breads in her Whian Whian home, has shut up shop at the Byron Farmers' Market on Thursday mornings.

A combination of age, financial pressures and a quiet concern that the huge growth in local markets is endangering their community spirit, is forcing Ms Newham to close her stall, after 10 years. Plus, she is keen to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Ms Newham came to the Northern Rivers 32 years ago from Melbourne, where she and her husband were both teachers.

For 20 years they ran the Whian Whian Pottery Restaurant, whose commercial kitchen she still uses for her market bake-ups.

The bread business was started by her daughter, and Ms Newham took it over and grew it into the busy enterprise it is today.

But the 68-year-old admits it has become a bit too much for her.

"I start on Monday afternoon, work Tuesday, Wednesday during the day and all through the night.

"Then it's straight to the market, with Gina (Crane) doing the driving and helping me with the stall."

It's an exhausting schedule and although on her final day she sold out, the returns were diminishing, making her efforts less worthwhile.

"There are too many markets now," Ms Newham said.

"When Mullum started up, it had a big effect on me in terms of sales."

Then there is the rising cost of flour, or at least the cost of freighting it from Kialla Pure Foods in Queensland and Demeter Mills in Gunnedah.

Without raising the price of her loaves, Ms Newham said the business was unsustainable.

"And I just can't change the price", she said.

The many Byron Shire customers of her remarkable range of breads - seeded, fruit, olive and rosemary, available in spelt or wheat flour - will be bereft.

But Byron's loss may be another town's gain.

Ms Newham is considering opening a stall at a smaller market, such as the Lismore Farmers on Thursday evenings, although she is going to take a break for a while.

Another option is for her to teach bread-making - something that will be hailed by the region's aficionados.

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