Farmers' markets buying guide

Should you trade in your supermarket trolley for food straight off the farm?
 
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  • Updated:13 Feb 2008
 

03.Best practice guidelines

The Australian Farmers’ Markets Association (AFMA) encourages and assists farmers’ markets throughout Australia to establish charters and best-practice standards that reflect the criteria advocated by the association.

AFMA is not a membership organisation — farmers’ markets don’t have to join. It consists of a group of people who volunteer their time to exchange information, coordinate policy, and promote grower-centric farmers' markets across Australia.

AFMA does not accredit markets or stallholders, although the Victorian association has recently received government funding and is now working towards an accreditation system in Victoria.

CHOICE would like to see a review of the industry and a clear and consistent national scheme to ensure consumers who want to buy directly from the farmers can be sure they are doing just that.

AFMA considers many markets to be well founded farmers’ markets, and lists these in its publication Guide to Farmers’ Markets Australia and New Zealand 2007. However, not all markets make AFMA's 'Pick-of-the-crop' list, which is reserved for those AFMA feels most closely reflect best-practice principles. See Pick of the crop for a list of many that do.

Best-practice guidelines

Fruit and veg market stallFarmers’ markets vary in how tightly they adhere to the guiding principles defined by the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association (AFMA), but the main elements are:

  • They bring fresh food and produce directly to the public.
  • The traders are intimately involved in growing the food, either as the farmer, their family, or a farm worker. Not all farmers are men, but as one researcher told CHOICE, it’s often the farmer’s wife who comes to the market — and they are not there so much for the money as for the social contact and positive feedback — it gives isolated farm life another dimension.
  • Only food and food products are included. You shouldn’t find crafts or clothes, for example, though you may find stalls selling things that relate to growing food, such as seeds, plants, flowers and animal feed or fertiliser.
  • Value-added food products are included, though the rules about what can be sold vary. For example, some farmers’ markets might permit a stall selling flavoured oils where the flavourings were sourced by the stallholder, who made them from produce of their local farm community, but the oil itself is Spanish. Other markets with a more stringent philosophy would insist that the oil was also from the producer’s local area (or perhaps even from their own farm).

For more information visit the AFMA website.

 

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