After more than a year of planning, a new state-based organisation has launched to represent genuine farmers markets in New South Wales and is calling for membership.
Recognised by the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association, the new Farmers Markets Alliance of NSW will work to raise public awareness of what makes an authentic farmers market, ensuring the interests of both farmers and consumers are served.
Farmers markets play a vital role in supporting local food systems and serve as incubators for new enterprises and products. When the authentic farmers market model is undermined, it hurts the local economy and farmers suffer. The Farmers Markets Alliance of NSW aims to promote the best practice principles of operating farmers markets to help the public recognise when they are buying from a genuine farmer or artisan producer and when they are not.
“Consumers want a genuine farmers market experience,” said FMANSW President Kate Raymond, manager of the SAGE Farmers Market in Moruya. “People want to feel connected to their local agricultural community and a market is the ultimate way to connect. They want to trust that when they go to a farmers market, they’re talking to the person that produced the food they’re buying, not a wholesaler. They want the story of the food, they want transparency. They don’t want to feel they’re being duped. If we lose the trust of consumers, our local food economies will feel the consequences.”
The number of farmers markets in Australia has boomed in the last 15 years. Many are excellent examples of farmers selling directly to their customers and should be celebrated. But with this growth comes the temptation to compromise on what makes a farmers market authentic. The FMANSW committee believes this is due to a lack of understanding about why it’s important to remain true to a few basic principles. Promoting these principles will be the main focus of the organisation.
Over the next year, the FMANSW will be researching and designing a system of accreditation for farmers markets, intended to build a trusted identity that markets can promote to their customers. Markets, stall holders and industry stakeholders are being encouraged to join the Farmers Markets Alliance of NSW and participate in the development process for the future system.