Selling their own produce, farmers enjoy a salt-of-the-earth respect from their customers that other spruikers can only fantasise about.
John Pye, one of three partners in a labour-intensive organic garlic farm south of Canberra has a sharp eye for a point of difference.
They hand-weed and manually harvest plump 'Monaro red' garlic which they hang for a month, before storing in a low-temperature fementer for about 40 days. It turns black as coal before they sell it.
Why would they do that?
"Well you will have to taste it to answer your own question," says Pye. "It is quite a different product. It becomes sweet, it is like molasses, liquorice and balsamic vinegar, so the chefs are mad about it. They like to use it as a sauce, or you can use it as a cheese and biscuit [topping]. It becomes an entirely different product."
A retailer for 30 years, he ran a health food outlet at the Monaro Mall and Canberra Centre before selling up last year to go full-time on his first love, farming.
Years ago he and wife Mary were growing garlic on their Bredbo property when they read a headline, "Garlic is the new black," and decided to give it a go. In 2009 he moved the growing to Ingelara, a 230-hectare biodynamic farm east of the Namadgi National Park where water is more plentiful.
He teamed up with Tobias Koenig and his family who raise beef cattle and grow potatoes. A third partner, Angus Boxall, lives in the United States and visits during harvest.
"Tobias is an amazing farmer; his tilling the soil and preparing it without chemicals, he seems to know just what it needs," says Pye, whose marketing flair had helped expand their venture.
The doubling of farmers' markets in recent years to about 150 across Australia is reportedly getting the attention of big chains eager to underline their farm fresh credentials.
Pye has noted another recent changes in shopping malls: Rival retailers dilute the overall offer by copying the successful ones.
"Retailing is hard. Everyone has got what you've got - if any [concept] is successful, they steal it.
"Health food relies on a niche, cutting- edge market. Go to any shopping centre and it's all about the food. I don't know why," he said.
In the Canberra Centre, niche shops had disappeared, replaced by food franchises.
As a garlic farmer he has an eye on weeds, the weather and taking a point of different to the market, by value-adding to a product when it leaves the paddock and before it is placed in front of a customer.
Plentiful rain and an early spring have brought on a tangle of weeds which are a constant challenge between the 150-metre-long rows of garlic, that also attract the attention of kangaroos and mischievous cockatoos.
"We harvest mid-November, because garlic needs to cure once you harvest it for about a month and that means we can get it into market about Christmas," Pye said.
They finished selling last season's garlic about a month ago, and are now selling "Bredbo Black" and smoked garlic.
"It is much more delicate than just garlic, much more a top-end gourmet line," says Pye. "it is better for you: the research says it has 20 times more antioxidants than normal garlic."
Two restaurants in Canberra are regular customers, as well as skiers returning from the snowfields who stop at a gourmet shop in Bredbo, outlets in Sydney, and the busy Capital Region Farmers' Markets in North Canberra.
A Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation study on farmers' markets has found nearly 80 per cent of stallholders participating in a survey made a profit.
Australian Farmers' Markets Association chairwoman Jane Adams says markets are a increasingly significant link in our food chain, connecting farmers and specialty food producers directly with customers.