The rising popularity of farmers' markets across Australia

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Today, farmers' markets are a staple event of any foodie's weekend, with a large range of markets found in every state, where you can buy directly from local producers. However, it wasn't always this easy to access fresh produce direct from the farm; a decade ago, there were only 70 farmers' markets to be found Australia-widei, but now there are over 40 markets recognised by the Australian Farmers' Markets Association in New South Wales aloneii.

Many consumers are also turning to farmers' markets to find a greater range of fresh food including organic, free-range and heirloom produce.

The first national survey of farmers' market managers was undertaken by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in 2011, finding that almost 70 per cent of markets reported increased stall holder numbers, and 64 per cent reported an increased number of shoppersiii. Most notably, 97 per cent of surveyed market managers believed that their farmers' market was sustainable in the long-termiii.

The appeal of farmers' markets

Farmers' markets offer producers the chance to benefit from higher profits by removing the middleman and selling food directly to consumersiv. Not only do customers enjoy fresh, quality and well-priced produce at farmers' markets, but shopping at a farmers' market is a social event with increased opportunity for interaction with stall holders and other shoppers. Farmers' markets are a great place to taste new products, ask questions about produce and gain knowledge about how the food was grown and where it comes fromiv.

As more people become aware of the societal and environmental benefits of buying food closer to its source, farmers' markets are also providing an important link between rural and urban communities and promoting sustainable food choicesi. Many consumers are turning to farmers' markets to find a greater range of fresh food including organic, free-range and heirloom produceiv.

Farmers' markets offer shoppers the chance to buy fresh produce directly from local farmers.

Organic is king

The rising interest in organic food and its health, ethical and environmental benefits has also added to the popularity of farmers' marketsi. Organic farming avoids pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, and promotes the humane treatment of farm animals as well as the use of ecologically sustainable farming methodsv.

Over the past five years, organic farming has been one of the best performing industries in the economy, with an impressive annual growth rate of just over 12 per centvi. Some of the best performers of the organic farming industry have been beef, fruit, vegetables and poultryvi, which are all organic fresh produce, available at most farmers' markets.

With a focus on quality and freshness as well as supporting local farmers and caring for the environment, it's easy to see why farmers' markets have become so popular. To find out where your nearest farmers' market is held, visit the website of the Australian Farmers' Markets Association.

iSmith, A 2012, 'Farmers feed growing appetite for food close to the source', Sydney Morning Herald, 9 April, viewed 30 April 2014,

iiAustralian Farmers' Markets Association, Australian Farmers' Markets Directory, viewed 30 April 2014,

iiiBowling, D 2012, 'More consumers and producers heading to farmers' markets, report finds', Hospitality Magazine, 12 April, viewed 1 May 2014,

ivDepartment of Agriculture and Food 2014, Selling produce at farmers' markets, Western Australian Government, viewed 1 May 2014,

vBetter Health Channel 2014, Organic food, Victorian State Government, viewed 1 May 2014,

viIBISWorld 2013, Organic farming in Australia: Market research report, viewed 1 May 2014,