British immigrant Elizabeth Taylor opened Sydney’s first farmers’ market at French’s Forest in Sydney, concentrating on organic and locally grown food. Her experience in running markets in the UK led her to found several markets around Sydney.
The Pyrmont Village website, which now appears to be defunct, had an article on the history of farmers’ markets in Sydney. Here’s the original text:
The Humble Beginnings of the Growers Market Pyrmont in Sydney
The popularity of farmers’ markets such as the Pyrmont Growers Market cannot be denied. Backed with noble ideals, farmers’ markets are continually rising in popularity from humble beginnings, but what does the future hold for this phenomenon? With a range of different theories starting to emerge on the future of farmers’ markets, a look into their history and growth may offer clues as to what we’re likely to see in their next generation.
Only in recent years has Australia joined the global movement of farmers’ markets, a venture spurred by the urbanisation of agriculture and supermarket boom. It wasn’t until 1995 thatElizabeth Taylor opened Sydney’s first market at Frenchs Forest. Taylor was also responsible for opening England’s first farmers’ market, the Spitalfields Market, in 1992. Since moving to Australia, she has left an impressive footprint in her home country with a reported 400 markets in the UK in the spirit of Spitalfields. It’s a success that has carried into Australia. Since 1995, nearly 100 farmers’ markets have opened across Australia, with ones such as Bondi Beach Market, Bundeena Markets by the Sea and the Pyrmont Growers’ Market particularly enjoying success.
It’s a popularity that can be accredited to not only the heightened awareness of monoculture, but also television and local government initiatives to promote the event as social and fun. With an estimated annual turnover of 40 million dollars, farmers’ markets are providing economic benefits which are attracting more and more government support. Unfortunately it’s also this success that has generated some doubt of the future of farmers’ markets and what is to be expected in the next generation.
With Australia’s farmers’ market community being in its formative years a look into the American industry offers some outlook. Farmers’ markets in the United States have been incredibly successful and whilst some view this success as a certainty to continue, others argue that the success could be a downfall. The first issue is that the large abundance of markets that have sprung up are outweighing supply over demand. There are over 100 markets in Southern California alone and the number of them is making it difficult for farmers to reach them all, forcing them to hire employees thereby taking away one of the attractions of farmers’ markets, where a customer can meet a farmer. Local business owners are also complaining that the farmers’ markets are offering unfair competition which is making some local councils reluctant to support them. The popularity has also led to other additions to farmers’ markets being implemented, such as entertainment. This has led to larger crowds and is deterring some customers from visiting. Whilst some believe that these are the seeds to supermarkets all over again, others think it’s a natural evolutionary process.
Elizabeth Taylor has introduced non-organic food into the Frenchs Forest farmers’ market, believe that people want more than organic and that a ‘purist’ attitude isn’t the way for the future. Another path for farmers’ markets to take is the internet. Virtual farmers’ markets are starting to emerge for customers who may find it more convenient. Others even think that the Australian scene won’t adopt the very strict ideals of the global movement, rather it will fragment and each market will find its own niche.
History has shown that the most popular markets are the ones that have changed, which puts the Pyrmont Growers’ Market in the spotlight. Being one of the most popular farmer’s markets in Sydney, the Pyrmont Growers’ Market is considered an attraction for tourists and residents alike, even so much its recognised as an international event. With so many different results from other popular markets it’s unclear how the Pyrmont Growers’ Market may evolve, your guess is as good as any.