ONE of the driving forces behind what we do as producers and as a farmers market committee is to give local people access to local food. As a committee we get one or two calls each month from people wanting to join the farmers market circuit. Followers of the market will know that we have around 1-2 new stallholders each year, as opposed to the 12-20 applications. The reason for this is simple – it’s not sustainable to drive 200km to sell something. It increases the cost of the item, it increases the food miles – the distance food has had to travel – and the environmental and nutritional costs associated with that.
At times we struggle to find quality local producers in certain areas. Eggs are a perfect example. High quality eggs where the hens are allowed to graze on pasture and be chooks, and then have their foraging supplemented with quality food are expensive to produce. Are you willing to pay $7 for a dozen exceptional eggs, and are there enough people willing to do that that it is worth a 30-minute drive and 5 hours standing at a market to justify you setting up your stall? And as the days get shorter, and the volume of eggs decreases should you take 6 hours out of your day, or sell them wholesale to someone closer so that you can spend the now spare 5.5 hours of your Saturday being a farmer, or maybe even doing something off the farm. These are all thoughts that go through my head, and while we take the good with the bad when it comes to attending a farmers market, it’s worthwhile to consider what is practical.
Another area we have always struggled with is fresh produce – vegetables. We have had applications in the past from people who go to the Melbourne Market and sell on, if we were to allow or encourage this we may as well close the market down. We are lucky to have one of the best green grocers in the state on our doorstep in Ahern’s and the stallholders who live in the immediate area are regular customers. The purpose of fresh produce at a Farmers Market is to provide seasonal, just harvested vegetables that have been grown in local conditions. If you go to a farmers market and see a huge variety of fresh produce think hard about what is able to be grown at that time of year and whether it is likely to be ‘home-grown – if that is what you are looking for. If you are not specifically looking for home grown, then go to a retailer who has respect for their customers and only sells first quality produce. You’ve done your dollars if it rots before you get to use it. Just some food for thought.
Having considered this for a while, there are two things we’d like to offer as a market. If you have excess produce in your garden you are welcome to sell it on our community stall. The fee for this is nominal, based on the volume of produce you bring. You will share the site with other people who may or may not have the same produce as you.
If you only have a few bits and pieces to offer you can participate in our food swap. Food swaps are local gatherings where you might swap items such as fruit, vegetables, seeds, herbs, worm juice or recipes. You swap for an item that is a fair reflection of what you have brought along. If you don’t have something to swap, make a fair donation to the tin and the money will be donated to a local community group or for a purpose that will encourage fair food in our area. Out of respect for the stallholders who are trying to make a living out of their stall, and as it may breech food regulations, please don’t bring honey, vegetable seedlings, eggs, or preserves. If you have any questions about what you can or can’t bring, have a chat to Juneen.
The Prom Country Farmers Market is held on the 3rd Saturday of each month in the grounds of the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre Hall in the Main Street. Around 20 stalls set up for sale between 8am and 12noon