Friday, June 25, 2010

Farmers markets grow up, take off | Stuff.co.nz

Farmers markets grow up, take off | Stuff.co.nz

Research is under way to pin down exactly how much farmers markets are worth to the economy since they emerged a decade ago.

A conservative estimate from Farmers Markets Association chairman Chris Fortune, a Marlborough chef and market founder, puts the figure at $30 million a year.

Waikato University is producing hard figures on the economic impacts of New Zealand's 48 farmers markets, as the national organisation cranks up efforts to future-proof local food trading and protect its unofficial brand.

New Zealand Farmers Markets are food markets where local growers, farmers and artisan food producers sell directly to local communities without a middleman. Stallholders can only sell what they grow, farm, pickle, preserve, bake, smoke or catch themselves from a defined area of their local geography.

The markets operate for a few hours on a weekend day, with some also operating on one week day.

Fortune, whose association was formed five years ago, says farmers markets have matured beyond being "teenagers".

"There's always a trendy stage with these things we are over that. We're past the look good, feel good stage. We're growing up, we're understanding what we have and using it to make sure the same model and principles on which we were founded are still there in 20 years."

Part of being grown up is protecting the brand, Fortune says, which is hard for a volunteer organisation with next-to-no funding.

The association is envious of its counterpart in the Australian state of Victoria where farmers markets' have received $8m in government funding.

Fortune says all his group needs is $200,000 annually "to make a difference".

"We rely on a volunteer committee at the moment. That's fine because it's part of the growing-up process but we've got to get better [closer to] with universities, to find the economic impacts on communities. Until we can collect and collate information on a national basis, we're always going to be seen as the little boys and girls."

The association has received $200,000 in the past from NZ Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Economic Development to help promote "Buy New Zealand". The money was spent introducing an "authenticity" standards programme, to which 60 per cent of markets have signed up, and launching a national website.

Fortune told the recent Farmers Markets NZ annual conference that global multinationals such as Campbells and Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals had approached the association wanting a slice of the concept.

"They want our customers over 50,000 a week, and that is very conservative. Otago attracts 5000 a week, Marlborough 2000 and that is over only three or four hours."

Fortune told the conference the markets and regional food producers needed to "stand up and claim what they own and what they need to protect".

"The only tangible asset that we all share, the only tangible thing we can truly claim to be ours and grow together is the two words 'farmers market'."

However, in its future-proofing mission and efforts to show who the "real" food producers of New Zealand are, the association is not commercially blinkered, Fortune says.

It is looking to engage with like-minded sectors and companies that will benefit its members through group discounts, generic sponsorship and regional funding pools.

Fortune says farmers market's have grown in popularity among those who don't accept mass produced food.

"Every week I get calls from producers stepping out of the mainstream for more financial reward and because supermarkets have chosen not to buy off these people.

"The fastest growth sector in New Zealand at the moment is support for butchers and delis. It's about shortening supply chains, about producers directly communicating with consumers, about where how and where it was grown, how to cook it."

Fortune says he started the Marlborough market after returning from overseas and producing fresh food from his land for his restaurant.

"As a chef I want New Zealand product. When I arrived back I was gobsmacked that my local butcher sent me Australian lamb, that my local supermarket stocked American asparagus, that I couldn't source local lamb.

"It all comes back to the supply chain and people telling us how we should shop and what we should buy through a limited distribution system of supermarkets where the major component of purchasing is price."

Farmers markets grow up, take off - Ooooby

Farmers markets grow up, take off - Ooooby

Research is under way to pin down exactly how much farmers markets are worth to the economy since they emerged a decade ago.

A conservative estimate from Farmers Markets Association chairman Chris Fortune, a Marlborough chef and market founder, puts the figure at $30 million a year.

Waikato University is producing hard figures on the economic impacts of New Zealand's 48 farmers markets, as the national organisation cranks up efforts to future-proof local food trading and protect its unofficial brand.

New Zealand Farmers Markets are food markets where local growers, farmers and artisan food producers sell directly to local communities without a middleman. Stallholders can only sell what they grow, farm, pickle, preserve, bake, smoke or catch themselves from a defined area of their local geography. More here...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Farmers’ Markets lead the revolution of economic growth and real food production in NZ


Farmers’ Markets lead the revolution of economic growth and real food production in NZ   



The closing of the third Farmers’ Markets New Zealand Conference held in Hamilton on June 6-8 brought to the forefront the importance of transparency and authenticity for all who attended. Delegates and key note speakers from America, England, Australia and New Zealand converged for three days for networking and sharing with the word “local” on the tastes buds of all.       Keith Stewart, self confessed foodie and radio live talk back host, was serious when he claimed we are in the middle of a revolution.  “We are at war, and we need to figure out who is on our side.”  Keith spoke to the delegates reminding them that we are the future food producers of New Zealand .  

Farmers’ Markets have grown sustainably ever since there introduction to NZ. Just 10 years ago Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Otago were the founding Farmers’ Markets of these regional, economic growth incubators, of which now over 50 operate in locations through out NZ on a weekly basis. This being New Zealand’s main point of difference to the rest of the world, most operating farmers’ markets on a monthly basis.
Gareth Jones (FARMA, UK) holds NZ up as a " shining example of farmers’ markets working together to achieve the same goal. The majority of markets in the UK run on a fortnightly or monthly basis. They would never have sat in the same room together, let alone co-elaborated on future goals and strategies, of how to provide economic stimulus to regional and urban communities "

Chairperson of Farmers’ Markets NZ, Chris Fortune, summed up the conference with, “NZ regional food producers  will make a long term economic and social difference in our local communities, not the promises made by council men seeking re-election or the corporate multi-national faceless companies that give us products they call food. This revolution will be led by the blueberry producers of Marlborough, the free range pork producers of the Waikato and the thousands of other real food producers of NZ.  They are already playing an integral part in the lives of the everyday consumers that chooses to do their weekly shop at NZ Farmers’ Markets.”

The highlight of the conference was hearing from the newly appointed Patron of FMNZ, Bernadine Prince, co-founder of 12 Farmers’ Markets in Washington DC, which includes the newest Farmers’ Market opened at the White House.  “NZ could be the leader of sustainable farming, feeding its own communities and be a continuing shining light in the world of Farmers’ Markets.”  This was Bernie’s 4th visit to NZ in relation to Farmers’ Markets and she returns to Washington DC with as much information as she imparted to the delegates of the FMNZ Conference.  She will share her new found knowledge with the newly founded American Coalition of Farmers’ Markets of which she is vice-president.
The key behind what all Farmers’ Markets have been doing over the last decade is Authenticity.  Focus being on transparency and now is the time for all regional food producers of NZ to stand up and claim what they own and protect their only tangible asset. This tangible asset that we can truly claim to be our own and grow together are the two words “Farmers’ Market”.

FMNZs  long-term focus is on the future transparency of farmers’ markets - the future is not only next week’s farmers’ market, or next years farmers’ market but farmers’ markets in 10 and 20 years time.
For more information on farmers markets – CLICK HERE

To contact FMNZ – info@farmersmarkets.org.nz or phone 021935995 or 03 5793599
Chairperson Chris Fortune -  members@farmersmarkets.org.nz