We are out of nappies, passed our toddler years and are ready for school…or as the head of the Australian Farmers’ Market Association, Jane Adams says, “I reckon you are very precocious for a 5-year-old and more likely to be wearing the latest off the shoulder party frock!” Whatever stage we are at, we are ready to celebrate!
Starting with 24 stallholders and 1500 patrons braving the elements to now hosting between 40 and 60 stallholders and 4-5000 patrons showing up every Saturday morning to buy their local produce, we are seen as a cornerstone of the Launceston community…boy have we grown!
It started as a way to connect into the community….Jenny Edis, founder of Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market had moved to Launceston and wanted a way to become part of the fabric of the place. She was the first ‘stay at home Mum’ to be accepted into the Tasmanian Leaders Program and her project was to develop a business plan for a farmers’ market. Jenny had a degree in regional development and was enamoured with a farmers’ market in New Zealand she used to attend weekly which gave her a great social connection to the place…and the inspiration for Harvest Launceston.
Another recent arrival in the State was Mary Mulvaney and with Jenny they conducted a community survey to demonstrate that a farmers’ market was not only wanted but needed for Launceston. Inspired by this they went to work drafting documents, researching, knocking on doors and talking. A brief phone call to Kim Seagram to ask her to help advocate for such a project, a presentation to Council, a phone call to Jane Adams from the Australian Farmers’ Market Association and Harvest Launceston was formed around a dedicated group of volunteer committee members including Janine Healey, Kim Hewitt, Tony McCall, Danielle Blewett and inaugural Market Manager Kieryn Deutrom with Leanne Hurst and Jess Sattler from the Launceston City Council helping make Jenny’s dream a reality!
A conversation with the Chair of Festivale, Lou Clarke, led to the first bit of seed funding, aside from the personal overdraft Jenny took out to help fund the market initially, with the first market being held Festivale weekend February 2012. The Tasmanian Leaders program not only helped facilitate the launch featuring Vallie Little from delicious. magazine but also yielded us our first Secretary of the Harvest Launceston Committee, Poppy Fay.
Wanting to start a market so we could source local produce we had no idea the incredible impact it was to have on the Launceston community. When we formed as a Committee in 2011 the State was feeling the tsunami of the global financial crisis, the forestry industry was on its knees and businesses were closing or downsizing. The innovation, inspiration and capacity building Harvest has helped facilitate and the pride it was to engender within the community who were delighted with the incredible quality and diversity of what we grow, harvest and make in and around our fabulous State and the fabulous people behind these products allowed it to thrive. It has also created a positive social space for the community to come and connect each week.
From this early beginning new relationships and new products have been formed, new producers trying out new products and market testing new ideas and opportunities saw not only Harvest as a market but the businesses and stallholders within thrive and grow. Some businesses the market saved by allowing them to sell direct to their customers removing the costly middle man, some Harvest helped grow and others have diversified, some have left us because they could, having reached new markets and achieved critical mass. It is a bit like fledging a child, proud to see them grow and prosper but sad not to have them still around. A few have even set up operations in the city as they achieved the critical mass to open their own outlets. The market will continue to evolve but what it has done is gain the respect and the support within our community of our local farmers, producers and makers, and cemented them as an integral part of the Tasmanian economy now and into the future.
Please join us for cake cutting and bubbles at 11am at the Harvest Launceston stall to help raise a glass to all the fabulous people and products that make this market one of the best in the country…well we did win the delicious. Produce Awards in 2013 for Australia’s most Outstanding Farmers’ Market and have been a regular finalist since!
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