2 November 2023

Goulburn Farmers Market cultivates an appetite for more fruit and veg

| John Thistleton
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Goulburn Farmers Market

A large crowd of people attended the inaugural Goulburn Farmers Market and they want to see more fruit and vegetable producers at future markets. Photo: John Thistleton.

More fruit, vegetable and meat producers are likely at the next Goulburn Farmers Market following the stunning success of the inaugural event on Saturday 28 October.

Most stallholders sold out. Some said it was the most successful market they had ever attended. Organiser Rita Warleigh said most of the feedback had been positive. Some people had arrived after 11 am to find it had finished and were disappointed. Four stallholders had not shown up, including two vegetable producers.

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Rita is happy with the undercover venue at the Peden Pavilion at Goulburn Recreation Ground which has room to expand for more expected stallholders.

Caitlin and Robert Kuch who grow parsley, coriander, chives, 20 varieties of mint, Warrigal greens, yellow raspberries, a range of tiny and big tomatoes, all grown from seedlings and cuttings at Bungonia, reported their most successful market in eight years.

“I didn’t expect to have a queue of 20-plus people constantly for most of the market,” Caitlin said. “Even after the market finished I still had people coming through and looking at my things and interested in what was happening during the day.

“We primarily sell online now and that’s how we grew our range to be more diverse,” she said. “Online customers were looking for the strange things and not so common. We have taken the [unusual] herbs to the markets because people like to touch, feel, see and buy and love the uncommon herbs as well.”

She said customers found their pots of $3 seedlings and $5 trees affordable. They sold out of tomatoes and 80 per cent of their other stock.

Organic lamb producer Vince Heffernan who for decades has sold at established markets in Canberra and Redfern where they get between 5000 and 6000 people, had no idea of what to expect in Goulburn.

“I thought we would sell about a third of what we actually sold,” he said. “It was fortuitous that my abattoir changed their minimum kill the week before. I was forced to take three times more than what I probably would have taken. As a result, I was very nervous, thinking how was I going to clear freezer space in the house, which one of the family needed lamb next and none of that was necessary,” he said after selling everything except a pack of mince.

Moorlands Biodynamic Lamb producer Vince Heffernan serves customers.

Moorlands Biodynamic Lamb producer Vince Heffernan (in blue shirt) serves customers. He was pleased with the interest they showed in buying directly from a district farmer who practised regenerative agriculture. Photo: John Thistleton.

Vince said feedback from Goulburn customers was interesting. They said lamb purchased from supermarkets was good but inconsistent – a good roast one week, an appalling piece of meat the next.

“It’s true, you don’t know where your meat is coming from at the supermarket,” he said. He spoke to people frustrated because they drove past lambs in the paddock, only to find the lamb at the supermarket they bought was stamped ‘Victoria’.

“They really enjoyed the ability (at the farmers market) to stand in front of the person who grew the lamb, to know where they were from,” he said. “When people knew we were from out past Gurrundah, out at Biala, they were very excited,” he said. “That direct line of sight from the paddock to their plate was important to them.”

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For an inaugural market where people didn’t know him and he did not know the Goulburn food market, he thought the event was absolutely amazing.

“We will be back with bells on and excited to be back,” he said. “We spoke to a lot of people interested in placing orders for whole lambs.” He believes the market would support many more producers.

Karl Shaw from Boorowa Bees said they sold out of their honey products, re-stocked and sold out a second time at the market, and was keen to return to Goulburn.

Trufflemen Farm at Marulan producers Geoff Holman and Rick Browning emailed Rita to say the market had been fantastic.

“Thank you to you and your team of volunteers for everything you did from organising the venue, stallholders, council regulations and rallying the local Goulburn community to get behind the market,” their email said.

Goulburn Farmers Market

Caitlin Kuch (right) serving customers at Kuch’s Plants at the Goulburn Farmers Market, where people queued for her herb seedlings. Photo: John Thistleton.

“We had a great market and enjoyed meeting everyone and sharing our passion as local growers of truffles with the people of Goulburn.”

For the next market on Saturday 25 November, organisers are considering inviting fruit growers from outside of the region at the Hawkesbury River, following feedback from people looking for fruit. “It’s not within the 100 kilometres, but we might take it from outside the area to keep people happy,” Rita said.

The next Goulburn Farmers Market will be on Saturday 25 November, at the Peden Pavilion Gate 6 Showgrounds, 45 Braidwood Rd, Goulburn. Stalls open at 8 am. To find out more or become a vendor, head to the Goulburn Farmers Market website.

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