In the first two posts in this series I explored the following ways we can support our local growers:
In this final post I look at another way we can help out local growers.
3. SHOP AT FARMERS MARKETS
Hawkesbury Harvest works to help farmers focus on farming by promoting the produce that’s in season on the radio and in local newspapers, and by assisting farmers with their marketing and business plans. As well as working with local councils, Hawkesbury Harvest provides alternate distribution channels for farmers by hosting regular farmers markets in metropolitan and regional locations, so farmers can sell direct to the public.
A producer who knows first-hand the value of farmers markets is Shane McLoughlin from Hillbilly Cider. Shane, a 4th generation farmer, moved from Nyngan in the centre of New South Wales to Bilpin in 2007 and has over one hundred years of outback farming in his family. Hillbilly Cider is made from 100% crushed and fermented fruit and is the only cider in the world that uses Bilpin’s very own creation, the ‘Julie’ apple, a variety created and trademarked by local producer Shields Orchard. Shane appreciates the community feel of farmers markets as this helped with the creation of Hillbilly Cider.
“Having direct contact with our consumers is important to us to know what people like and to engage people with the brand and our philosophy.”
Through discussions with farmers we can learn about their produce and how best to store and cook with it, so we get the maximum nutritional value out of the food and this means value for money and less waste. With this knowledge and understanding comes a greater respect for the produce, and all the hard work of the farmer.
Shopping at farmers markets also cuts out the middle man so the farmer gets a higher return for their produce.
“Markets give farmers an opportunity to be a price setter and not just a price taker” says Shane.
In 2006 Hawkesbury Harvest conducted a survey on the bimonthly Castle Hill Farmers and Fine Food Market, determining that farmers markets benefit the community economically. Of the estimated 3,000 visitors, each spent an average of $50, a figure that is predicted to have risen in the years since.
To find your local farmers market, go to the Australian Farmers’ Market Directory website and check its comprehensive list of farmers markets by state.
Australian’s have access to fantastic fresh and local produce, carefully grown by our hard-working farmers, so let’s give them our support! Let’s get back to eating more of what the land provides and buy local produce, visit a nearby farm and shop at local farmers markets.
Let’s ditch the imported produce and do something good for both our bodies and the community. Like the Hillbilly mantra of ‘getting back to basics and in touch with the land’, let’s put on our gumboots and take a drive, to bask in the sunshine, breathe in the country air and load up our baskets with the fruit and vegetables grown by our fair dinkum Aussie farmers.