An increase of people at farmers’ markets is seeing benefits for the farming industry (Image Source: Adelaide Farmers’ Market)
By Meika Bottrill | @meikabottrill
If you drive past the Adelaide Showgrounds on a Sunday morning, you will see people bustling in and out, grasping onto reusable shopping bags, filled to the brim with fresh and locally-sourced produce.
These people are visiting the Adelaide Farmers’ Market: a weekly market that is held at the Showgrounds on Sundays from 9am-1pm.
Over the last couple of years, farmers’ markets have risen in popularity, with a 2011 survey of farmers’ market managers by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry finding that 64 per cent reported an increased number of shoppers.
Not only is sourcing your weekly groceries from local farmers important, but it’s also extremely enjoyable.
Let’s face it — strolling through the markets on a Sunday makes you feel good about yourself.
Jenni Mitton, the general manager of the Willunga Farmers Market, said she believes purchasing locally-grown produce should always be a priority for consumers.
“South Australia first and Australia second: purchasing [locally] means lower food miles and improved freshness,” she said.
“Farmers’ markets also play an important role in the community as a welcoming place for people to catch up with neighbours and friends.”
Not only do farmers markets sell locally grown produce, they also have numerous cake makers, florists and breakfast bars that offer their services as well.
Brenda Oakey is the owner of Alnda Farms, and is a regular stall holder at Adelaide Farmers’ Market.
Each week she travels from Gawler River, leaving at around 3.45am each Saturday morning, to attend the markets.
Alnda Farms grow many herbs and vegetables on their farm, but their specialty tomatoes are their most popular produce.
“I think it is very important for consumers to purchase from farmers’ markets [so] they have the opportunity to learn where their food is coming from,” Ms Oakey said.
“For example, our produce is picked and packed within 48 hours of the market ensuring [its] the freshest possible produce with the highest nutritional value.”
Catherine Woods, the marketing and communication coordinator at the Adelaide Farmers’ Market, said people are attracted to farmers’ markets because they want to be able to trust their food: something that is not always possible with supermarkets.
“Buying your food from the people who grew it, raised it, made it or baked it is important to people who look on the huge list of additives and ingredients on processed food, and realise this isn’t good for their health or the environment,” she said.
“For many of our small, family-owned farms, the [Adelaide] Farmers’ Market is a lifeline.
“It is the only place where they can sell their food and make a living, as selling it to the giant supermarkets often doesn’t cover the cost of growing food, and prices are forced down by competition from interstate and international exports.
“I think if people could see what goes on every week to bring their food to the market, they would appreciate it more.”
But if life gets in the way and you find yourself at work or studying hard on a Sunday, there are still alternative ways to make sustainable shopping choices at the supermarket.
For example, since 2014, Woolworths has offered The Odd Bunch: an initiative to promote sales of bruised or deformed fruit and vegetables.
“The Odd Bunch produce is just as delicious and healthy as the better-looking produce,” former Woolworths Managing Director Tjeerd Jegen said in a 2014 media release.
“What’s more, our customers can benefit from cheaper fruit and veg whilst helping Aussie farmers sell more of their produce.”
Farmers’ markets are crucial to the survival of the farming industry, as it offers producers the chance to benefit from higher profits.
While it’s great that consumers now have more sustainable options in supermarkets, shopping at a farmers’ market is the most practical and enjoyable ways to support the industry, and provides direct profits to producers in the long run.