Supporting farmers & connecting foodies
As the trading bell rings at Kiama Farmers’ Market each week, hundreds of shoppers get ready to fill their baskets with the best local produce, from hand-picked blackberries to freshly baked bread. The market, which first opened in 2013, is governed by a central philosophy: do right by producers, and the customers will follow.
“People often see things like this as a bit of a novelty, but it’s not about having something new every week,” explains Market Manager, Tricia Ashelford. “It’s hard work growing things, making things, producing food, and our market is about understanding those stories. If we don’t value our farmers, then we won’t have them in the future.”
The Kiama Farmers’ Market sees its relationship with producers as a valued partnership, something that has underpinned its unique trading model of just three hours in the afternoon, once per week.
“We’ve always been really conscious of listening to what our stallholders want from us,” says Tricia. “When we talked to the farmers, we realised that they just didn’t have the time to spend away from their property for a whole day. Or if the market was in the morning, it meant they had to get up before dawn to pick or prepare their produce.”
The initiative has helped strengthen relationships between producers, buyers and consumers in the Illawarra, something that Tricia has watched evolve over the past few years since the market has been in operation.
“Gone are the days when you can simply say, ‘oh, we use local produce’. The punters now want to know, ‘are they Buena Vista carrots? Are they Crooked River Farm eggs?’ And we in the community celebrate chefs and restaurants who are celebrating that connection.”