1995 Sydney’s first organic food market

British immigrant Elizabeth Taylor opened Sydney’s first organic food market at French’s Forest in Sydney, concentrating on locally grown food. Her experience in running markets in the UK led her to found several markets around SydneyI have received a note from Kevin Eade of NSW Farmers Market Pty Ltd making the point that the French’s Forest market, and Elizabeth Taylor’s subsequent markets are not, in fact, farmers’ markets, as the stall-holders are primarily on-sellers, not the farmers themselves.

The Australian Farmers’ Market Association defines a farmers’ market as: “… a predominantly fresh food market that operates regularly within a community, at a focal public location that provides a suitable environment for farmers and specialty food producers to sell farm-origin and associated value-added specialty foods for human consumption, and plant products directly to customers.”

The Pyrmont Village website, which now appears to be defunct, had an article on the history of organic food markets and farmer’s markets in Sydney, in which they linked the development of local markets to Elizabeth Taylor’s venture. Here’s part of the original text:

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 that Elizabeth Taylor opened Sydney’s first market at Frenchs Forest. Taylor was also responsible for opening England’s first organic food market, the Spitalfields Market, in 1992…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.

The farmer’s market movement gained pace around the turn of the century, with the formation of the Australian Farmers’ Market Association. Mr. Eade has informed me that NSW farmers started their first farmers’ market at Morpeth in 1999. With farmers, no onsellers, he stresses.  They then commenced the Original Fine Food Market at the Honeysuckle Railway Sheds in Newcastle in March 2000 followed by markets at Mt Penang Farmers Market and Newcastle City. Around the same time, the Pyrmont Growers’ Market and the Fox Studio markets at Moore Park began.

Melbourne’s first farmers’ market started in 2002 at the Collingwood Children’s farm. The same year, the first South Australian farmers’ market opened at Willunga on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The first in Canberra, the Capital Region Farmers’ market, started trading in March 2004 and was established without any financial support or grants from governments or other sources. It started with 18 stalls and some 1,000 customers and has since grown to more than 100 stalls per week and over 5,000 customers.

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