I have met and chatted with a number of people this week around the topic of local food security and resilience. It is imperative that local small scale organic agriculture be encouraged around townships to provide for the community…this is not new! In my home town of Lichfield, UK our market place has been in use for at least 800 years!
So why is it so hard for small scale organic farmers to sell their produce in their local communities? The best place for small scale, young or new farmers to begin learning their craft is to sell their produce at their local farmers markets. If however, your local farmers markets allows non-farmers (re-sellers / food, breakfast / coffee stalls) to take up the majority of stalls in local ‘farmers’ markets, they are taking away this opportunity to grow young / new farmers and keep small scale farmers within our local communities.
So how could local farmers markets change to support local small scale farms to increase regional biodiversity and food security?
1. Do not allow ANY resellers at farmers markets. Lets reclaim ‘Farmers Markets’ for ‘Farmers’
2. Have Farmers Markets Management perform a random yearly audit to each stall at the farmers market to ensure that the produce is in fact sourced from the farm that is being claimed.
3. Put aside at least 40% of the stalls in the ‘Farmers Market’ for fresh local produce to give small scale and young / new farmers a chance to sell their produce direct locally, this in turn gives the farmers market shopper, great diversity, price and a real alternative to purchasing produce from large scale corporate agriculture.
4. Abandon Anti-Competitive (and illegal) market policies that only allow 1 or 2 types of stall per market
5. Reserve some stalls for locally grown produce (produce grown within 20km of the market).
If we could work with farmers markets everywhere to establish ethical practices, then we could go a long way to encouraging local small scale agriculture, diversity, regional resilience and food security in Australia…whilst feeding our communities, local -sustainable – affordable – organic food:)