Now more than ever, consumers want to buy fresh, wholesome foods, and if it is labelled “organic” – even better.
At a time where fast food is so prevalent and food related health risks seem to be at an all time high, we are opting for the organic option in our groceries.
While the giant supermarket chains have been offering this in recent times- promoting organic products, or selling the ‘seconds’ of crops that perhaps aren’t as perfect as the others on the shelf, this healthier option has been forever available at your local farmers’ market every Saturday and Sunday.
Farmers’ markets are something of a trend these days, but their popularity is a great reward to the hard working farmers in Victoria.
Shona Crawford is the Market Gardener for Vegie Bunch, a third generation growing business from Pearcedale, and has been holding stalls at farmers’ markets since their inception nearly 15 years ago.
“Some customers have been coming to me since I started selling at the markets,” she says.
The ability to build a rapport with shoppers is a big bonus Crawford says you won’t always get at a supermarket chain.
“We can’t always beat the big supermarkets on price, but we make up for it in personality and the quality of the produce,” says Crawford.
Farmers Markets are great for those that want to indulge in a paddock to plate style of consuming. Most stall holders will have a Victorian Farmers’ Market Accreditation, meaning what they bring to the market has been grown and nurtured by them personally.
Crawford says is an important factor now more than ever, with supermarkets trying to take the spotlight on fresh and organic produce,
“It’s about the connection to the farmer for a lot of people,” says Crawford.
“The supermarkets really can be a detriment to us. They’ve even started advertising specials for fruit and vegetables on weekends, and they never used to do that.”
With popularity increasing in the markets, the Victorian Farmers’ Market Association’s (VFMA) president Wayne Shields says there are a growing number of events trying to pass off as the real deal.
Because of this, VFMA is also working on informing customers of the difference between a genuine, accredited market, and an unaccredited market that sells fresh produce.
While her sole focus is on selling good quality fruit and vegetables, Crawford says the media in general does have an impact on the sales and success of a market.
“The media will latch onto something and when they really push it, you do start to get a bit of a follow through from the public asking for those things.
When there was a big focus on ‘superfoods’ like kale and before that I think it was beetroot, they can have a fair bit of influence,” says Crawford.
So for those wanting to buck the trend, we asked what produce is coming into season now that we can look forward to?
“At the moment we’ve got beans coming through, zucchinis, all the more interesting things.
“Because of the summer months there’s a lot more versatility in growing, tomatoes are in the ground, you’ve got your herbs like coriander and parsley too,” says Crawford.
Head to the VFMA website to locate your closest accredited weekend market.