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Farmers Markets in Canberra – are they truly ‘regional’?

By miz - 11 November 2014 14

I went to the Capital Regional Farmers Market on Saturday morning. I don’t go to farmers markets that often, but go when I can because I like the concept of supporting local producers and skipping the ‘middleman’ supermarket chains.

I have to say I was shocked to see a stall from Tweed Valley selling bananas and avocados. In no stretch of the imagination could Tweed Valley be considered ‘Canberra region’! (I have previously asked other stall holders where they were from and one bread and cake seller told me he was from Sydney, but I had thought that was an aberration.)

Capital Region Farmers Market (http://capitalregionfarmersmarket.com.au) state on their website that they are ‘proud to do something positive to underpin the growing agri-business opportunities in the region and offer a great seasonal food experience.’ Hmm. I am really starting to wonder if this is true, given the presence of stalls clearly from outside our region.

Since then I have discovered another farmers market, the Canberra Farmers Markets (http://www.canberrafarmersmarkets.com.au) which are held at UC on Saturday afternoons and at Woden CIT on Sunday mornings. Their website states that they sell ‘fresh, regional ,seasonal produce’ and that their stall holders have to display market signs which are ‘green for produce grown or processed by the stallholder and white if the stallholder is an agent for another grower or producer.’

This seems more my style, but I have not had the opportunity to attend these markets.

I would be most interested in other Rioters’ views on what is ‘local’ or ‘regional’ produce and how they rate the alternative farmers markets.

Miz

What’s Your opinion?


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14 Responses to
Farmers Markets in Canberra – are they truly ‘regional’?
rosscoact 10:24 am 14 Nov 14

Masquara said :

If there was any genuine concern about “food miles” on environmental grounds they would allow produce from further away, provided it’s brought in by freight train and not by truck …

But my sea-urchin roe needs to be flown in from Puget Sound on a daily basis, otherwise it won’t taste as good.

pajs 8:38 am 14 Nov 14

I don’t have an issue with the markets having a catchment in the 200km-300km range (around Canberra). Young is a bit over 160km away, for instance, and gives some excellent producers (especially Boxgum Grazing).

Personally, I’d like to see the grandfathered arrangements that allow more distant and agent-only producers at the markets end. But the organisers have done a good job over the years of tightening up market eligibility and being pretty transparent with their information.

screaming banshee 8:43 pm 13 Nov 14

Those bananas are fantastic and it’s not like there are local growers losing business.

What I do think is shonky is the ‘grandma’ selling ‘farm fresh eggs’ from ‘farm fresh eggs pty ltd’ in Sydney.

Masquara 8:41 pm 13 Nov 14

If there was any genuine concern about “food miles” on environmental grounds they would allow produce from further away, provided it’s brought in by freight train and not by truck …

Maya123 7:46 pm 13 Nov 14

no idea said :

maybe pajs should have read the question “I would be most interested in other Rioters’ views on what is ‘local’ or ‘regional’ produce and how they rate the alternative farmers markets.”

Local, I would think roughly a circle around Canberra as far out as about Boorowa, and ‘Regional’ maybe double that. Or is that too large an area? That was a good question from ‘no idea’.

no idea 5:35 pm 13 Nov 14

maybe pajs should have read the question “I would be most interested in other Rioters’ views on what is ‘local’ or ‘regional’ produce and how they rate the alternative farmers markets.”

Masquara 8:01 pm 12 Nov 14

How come PilPel are allowed to sell there? Spreads and dips manufactured in Sydney from fully imported ingredients.

justin heywood 12:19 pm 12 Nov 14

Holden Caulfield said :

The best bananas in the world are the ones grown in the Canberra region. You won’t find me getting sucked in by those ring-ins from up north. Oh no, not me!

Damn straight. Northern growers have already destroyed the local mango industry, now they’re trying to put our struggling local banana growers out of business. It’s criminal I say.

Holden Caulfield 11:17 am 12 Nov 14

The best bananas in the world are the ones grown in the Canberra region. You won’t find me getting sucked in by those ring-ins from up north. Oh no, not me!

pajs 10:29 am 12 Nov 14

It is pretty clear that the Tweed is not local to Canberra. But perhaps that retailer is one of those grandfathered into the new arrangements for the markets? Or perhaps they are there as the result of customer requests to have someone there that sells bananas? This is the kind of question you might have wanted to ask the market organisers before writing this piece and speculating that there is some kind of consumer scam at play.

miz 9:29 pm 11 Nov 14

pajs, I remain unconvinced that Tweed valley is anywhere like in the Canberra Region, whereas I can understand why some products such as seafood could be deemed as in the region (as set out in the rules you cite), given that Canberra is only an hour or two from the coast.
And unlike the ‘rules’, I don’t have any issue whatsoever with agencies (e.g. milk suppliers, which are often cooperatives of several producers) as long as the goods are as advertised – i.e., Canberra region.
Essentially I am concerned that consumers are being misled.

jett18 3:19 pm 11 Nov 14

There used to be a guy who sold spuds at the Farmers Markets at EPIC who religiously went into a wholesaler in Fyshwick and bought brush spuds from them, then passed them off as his own home grown produce.

Don’t know if he’s still around though.

pajs 12:24 pm 11 Nov 14

I reckon you might have saved yourself a post if you’d looked at the ‘Market Rules’ part of website for the EPIC markets: http://capitalregionfarmersmarket.com.au/about-us/market-rules/

“Market Rules

The Market aims to maintain the authenticity of the products and ensure its customers’ trust through simple rules. The rules and code of conduct are applicable to all stallholders – both existing stallholders and new applicants. These rules are designed to maintain the authenticity and reputation of the Market.

Stallholders are producers passionate about their products, who attend the Market on a regular basis.
All stallholders must display approved Market ‘Producer product’ and ‘Agency product’ signs. Stalls must have signs with the name of the stallholder, and approved agencies must show who grew the produce and where it was grown.
All products sold must be approved by the Market Committee and are identified for each stallholder on this website.
ACT Health, Fair Trading and other laws must be observed, including rules relating to the labelling of products such as ‘organic’, ‘chemical free’ etc.
Producers are visited to ensure the authenticity of their production systems and suitability for the Market.

Market Rules – anomalies

The Market and its rules have evolved since their inception in 2004 and are constantly being updated. Consequently the Committee is continually working on the elimination of anomalies. Anomalies are currently managed under ‘grand-fathered’ arrangements and no further applications of associated products will be approved.

Current Market anomalies include:

Flower products – because of seasonal constraints on flower production in the Capital Region Farmers Market region, agencies are accepted from out of region.
Fish products – because of sustainable fish management policies and seasonality, fish products may be sourced outside of the CRFM region (but must be from Australian waters).
Ingredients for secondary and tertiary products – these products may include some imported products (e.g. spices, coffee beans); however priority is given to products with locally produced ingredients.
Non-food products – some non-food products were approved early in the Market’s development (e.g. soap, beeswax).
Most stallholders are genuine producers; however Rule changes have resulted in two agency only stalls. These stalls are currently the subject of grandfathered management agreements to eliminate them from the Market.

Freshness, quality and environmental benefits

The Capital Region Farmers Market offers a number of benefits to consumers in addition to freshness, quality and access to a wide variety of regional and seasonal food.

The Market helps to substantially reduce food miles between the growers and your table. Food from the Market comes direct from the producer, with the majority of produce coming from less than 300 kilometres, resulting in lower transport costs and a reduction of the carbon footprint.”

Mess 11:26 am 11 Nov 14

We head to Woden farmers markets most Sundays and they are always good. The furthest away I have seen stallholders come from is Narooma, but they sell fresh seafood so allowances have to be made.

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