It is 1 hour past midnight, and I am mounting my bike to head off to the area of 283 ha vegetable and fruit wholesale market Grossmarkthalle in Hamburg. The warehouse of Marker Obst und Gemüse, one of the larger vegetable and fruit supplying company, is the place where I was staying nights, actually early mornings. A cold night, a general absence of passers-by and enfolding silence was in a direct opposition with the buzzing world of the warehouse, once I entered. Generally speaking, people working in the warehouse do not need to travel (as the whole world meets there) and kilometres in workers’ legs for one night can be a substitute for sports. Yet, a recreation centre is hardly a name you would use when working here.
It is shortly before 2 am when I arrive at the area of Grossmarkthalle. One of the few eateries I saw for the night shift workers of the wholesale market.
The creatures of the night looking after the nearby channel and me.
Warehouse halls and stacked crates are standing into the night. Everything is still.
A hunch of system in the overall mess and buzz. The company employs around 90 people. Some 30 odd people work in the company every night.
Trucks and utility vehicles bring vegetables and fruit the whole night. A dexterous fork lift truck driver is coming in a second to unload mandarins and water melons.
Wooden pallets with produces are brought inside to be taken and stored further in the hall. A run-of-the-mill wooden pallet can bear the load of up to 2-3 tons.
Most of the packing occur between 6pm and 3am; packers pack crates with food according the customers' requests specified in the paper hanging on the wall.
It is 5:30 am and the hall once crammed with trolleys packed with the customers' orders is now empty with crates safely landed in the trucks.
The trucks teeming with crates are now ready to distribute the goods to their customers: restaurants, hotels, kindergartens etc.
Non-smoking and non-drinking coffee species are rather scarce. In fact, smoking and coffee breaks were the only breaks the workers allowed themselves for.
Shortly past 6 am, an angel of the whole market halls rolls in - on his bicycle buffet. The workers reward themselves with sausages, sandwiches, soups and redbulls.
Among fruit you may find the most exotic ones coming from distant countries: African cucumber...
...just like local products from within the radius of max. 100 km. This brussel sprouts tree was brought by a farmer from the area that day.
It is 7 am, a part of the night shift (including the owner Michael Marker who cares for his baby - the company and doesn't seem to sleep at all) comes to the office together with the day shifters: book-keepers, salesmen etc.
With the sun rising (9 am), Grossmarkthalle closes its gates for sales and will reopen them again at 2 am next day.
I would like to thank you to Marker Obst und Gemuse, Michael Marker who runs this stunning empire of fruits and vegetables with love and care, his knowledgeable and conscientious son Patrick, Dirk the stern yet funny supervisor and both Daniels, especially Daniel Rohde who makes the lives of customers and others around him so cheerful.
, marker obst and gemuse
, night shifts