24 September 2023

Organisation encouraging people to eat local fare plants its roots in permanent home

| Claire Sams
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A group of people outside at a farmers market

Southern Harvest Association has a new (and permanent) home where the farmer-led group’s work will continue with markets, giving consumers more options. Photo: Southern Harvest Farmers Markets/Facebook.

For weeks and weeks, the grounds of a Bungendore church saw people gather every Saturday to browse a farmers market featuring the region’s producers.

But time at their current location had come to an end, said Southern Harvest Association operations manager Ruth Gaha-Morris.

“We’ve been in a few spaces over the years, and our most recent [before this move] was the grounds of the Anglican Church,” she said.

“They’ve been extremely supportive and helped us through COVID and the bushfires, but it’s time to move on.”

However, Ms Gaha-Morris said, the not-for-profit, farmer-led organisation would continue.

Southern Harvest Farmers Market will operate from its new location on the corner of Ellendon and Malbon streets from today (Saturday, 23 September).

“We loved being there, but it’s right off the beaten track, and this new site is right on the highway,” Ms Gaha-Morris said.

“The move also means that all of our infrastructure will be in the one place. We’ll have storage and we can staff the shop and the markets at the same time.”

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The new site will also host a permanent store and, in time, a restaurant.

“This will have a commercial kitchen, and we plan to open that in another month or two,” Ms Gaha-Morris said.

“Our producers will be able to utilise the commercial kitchen in creating their own products.”

The store will operate throughout the week and is expected to open in the coming weeks.

“A lot of our producers who can’t attend the markets attend our community stall, and we’re turning that into a community store,” Ms Gaha-Morris said.

“It gives us a lot more diversity in what we can offer.”

Ms Gaha-Morris said Southern Harvest’s online store would remain open and the group would continue to offer its produce boxes.

Southern Harvest has also collaborated with a wine producer to open a cellar door that will operate within the same building as the community store.

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Ms Gaha-Morris said the move to a new location followed a decade of wanting and planning.

“We’ve been looking at and thinking about opening an in-person store since 2013,” she said.

“I feel like there’s been lots of loose ends over the last 10 years, and now we’re gathering them all up and putting them into something we’ve been striving towards.”

Ms Gaha-Morris said the hope was the move would support the organisation’s goal of supporting producers with the public.

“It is going to give people another option and a bit more flexibility in their shopping,” she said.

“For us, being open a few more days every week and being able to offer fresher food that is 100 per cent local is, I think, going to be an addition to the community.”

The Southern Harvest Farmers Market will be held at The Village Square, corner of Ellendon and Malbon streets in Bungendore, on Saturdays from 9 am to 12 pm.

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