An ever-growing weekend ritual for Canberra foodies are the Capital Region Farmer’s Markets at Exhibition Park. Thousands of fresh food lovers gather here every Saturday morning to do the weekly produce shop and chat directly with the people who grow their food. A project of the Rotary Club of Hall, the markets are run by volunteers, with all proceeds going back into Rotary’s community projects.
For Tony Howard, one of the market’s founders, the markets’ humble and well-intentioned beginnings have continued to underpin the ethos of authenticity that now pervades all market decisions. “We started in 2003 with 15 stalls, as a way to help local farmers through the drought,” Tony says. “Authenticity is our watch-cry, the thing that drives this market and keeps it as professional and popular as it is today. The farmers stand behind their products, the customers know they’re dealing with the producer and that it’s the freshest stuff they can possibly buy.”
A springboard for local entrepreneurship, the markets have also provided many local producers an avenue to make a living, with stallholders expanding, opening shops, buying new equipment and looking into new practices for producing quality local food. With ever-growing community support and patronage, and 4 or 5 new stall applications a week, the Capital Region Farmers Markets is a Canberra institution and a hallmark of healthy food culture in the Capital.