The first farmers’ market started in Victoria in 1998 in the Yarra Valley. Today, farmers’ markets are a staple event of any foodie’s weekend. There are now at least 180 farmer’s markets across Australia, and around half of them in Victoria.
In Victoria, The Victorian Farmers’ Market Association (VFMA) have formalised these characteristics that define a local farmers’ market:
i. Local farmers: the person you are transacting with is the person who grew or made the produce.
ii. Local produce: the products you are getting from the market are produced locally, i.e. in Victoria or within 100kms of the state border.
Any stallholder who abides by the these can apply to be ‘accredited’, and any market where 75% or more of its stallholders are accredited can itself apply to be accredited. Accredited farmers’ markets are where farmers sell directly to their customers, a place not compromised by resellers. You can enjoy listening to the stories of how their broccoli has been carefully grown or exactly what feed the farmer’s animals have ingested. Farmers and makers impart the wisdom of their farming and producing practices to willing customers. This is where you get the authentic farmers’ market experience.
There are many great reasons to shop at a farmers’ market, here’s why you should take your family along with you:
- Fresh food: clearly the leading reason.
- Chemical-free food: most local farmers use few, if any, chemicals or pesticides and many are certified organic.
- Food from a known source: you know who grew/made it and you can talk with them.
- Reduced packaging: in most cases, the food comes unpackaged and you put it directly into your shopping bag.
- Supporting local food producers: a stronger reason at some markets than others.
Find out where’s the nearest farmers’ market near you here: Melbourne Farmers’ Markets