We’ve provided answers to some of the most common questions we are asked. If your question isn’t here, use the button below to contact us and we’ll answer it for you.
The Australian Farmers’ Markets Association defines a farmers market as such:
A Farmers’ Market is 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.
At its most basic, a farmers market is a market of farmers (and fishers and other primary producers) and value-adding producers using farm-origin ingredients as much as possible in their products.
Markets that include stall holders who are agents (also known as resellers and wholesalers) who are not farmers, selling produce they have not produced themselves, whether bought directly from a farmer or from a large central wholesale market, are not genuine farmers markets.
Such a market might be referred to using another term such as a “produce market”, but if all or most of the stall holders are agents, then it is not a genuine farmers market.
A genuine farmers market is also exclusively a food market. It does not include non-food products, other than products that have been made by a farmer from their produce or by-products resulting from their farming activity. For example, a farmer might also sell goats milk soap they have made using milk from their own goats, or a honey producer might also make and sell beeswax candles. These are farm-origin value-added products that are part of the farmer’s enterprise.
Markets that include stall holders who sell only non-food items, whether or not the stall holder has produced any of the ingredients or materials, could be referred to using another term such as a “growers & makers market” or a “community market”, but they are not genuine farmers markets.
There are other characteristics that also set a farmers market apart from other markets, but these two principles are the foundations of a genuine farmers market.
The FMANSW has adopted the same approach to best practice as advocated by the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association. The approach can be summarised as:
- no agents
- no non-food stalls
- defined local region
- operated as not-for-profit
These core principles ensure authenticity for a farmers market. To them, we add a further two supplementary principles that, if achieved, ensure that a farmers market is both vibrant and resilient:
- culture of open competition
- maintaining a ratio of at least 2 farmers to every 1 value-adder
These are the principles upon which our market accreditation system will be built. We explore each principle in greater depth elsewhere on the website.
Over the many decades that farmers markets have operated, and particularly since they have operated within a dramatically changed economic context with the development of the supermarket-driven system of food distribution, several basic principles have emerged that ensure a farmers market will provide the best outcomes for farmers and the communities in which they operate.
These principles have been tested and proven, researched and documented. How a community implements these principles can vary, but they are at the core of every genuine farmers market.
When they are successfully applied, farmers receive the best possible benefit and likewise the communities they feed.
A market — even a farmers market — can operate without achieving best practice and still serve their farmers. In some cases, circumstances make it difficult for market operators to strictly adhere to best practice principles, but the FMANSW advocates for market operators to make it their mission to work towards the best outcomes for their farmers and their local food systems and that is best achieved by following these principles as closely as possible.
Local means different things to different populations.
For a small farmers market in a regional community, local might mean within 100 kilometres, or within the boundaries of their shire.
For a farmers market within a larger regional centre with a bigger population, local might mean within 200-300 kilometres, or about a 3-hour drive.
For a large farmers market within a metropolitan population, local might include the whole state.
As a general rule of thumb, if a market is including produce from anywhere within Australia, it is not a genuine farmers market. That is a supermarket definition of local.
Ideally, there would be a greater number of smaller markets sourcing from a smaller region, rather than fewer larger markets sourcing from a larger region. A balance must be carefully maintained to satisfy as many customers across as many regions as possible.
A genuine farmers market should define their local region and declare it to their customers. Stall holders who are farmers should be located within this defined local region. The manufacturing premises of value-adding stall holders and the main ingredients of their value-added products should be located within and sourced from this defined local region.
The FMANSW intends to create a system of accreditation whereby markets achieving best practice will be recognised and promoted as those markets in NSW that provide the most direct benefit to our farmers and communities.
Joining the FMANSW does not automatically endow a market with accredited status. Membership is intended to unite markets that identify as farmers markets to work together towards achieving best practice across the state.
As the FMANSW is still a new organisation, work on developing an accreditation system is in the very early stages. Members will be given opportunities to participate in helping guide and shape how the system will operate.
The FMANSW has adopted an inclusive approach to membership eligibility. By welcoming markets that identify as a farmers market, even if not a genuine farmers market, we aim to encourage and assist markets to work towards best practice in a way that accommodates their circumstances.
Membership does not endow a market with FMANSW accredited status. It is a way for a market to declare its support for the FMANSW Purpose and Charter and is an indication of a market’s intention to work towards best practice. Only markets assessed as operating according to best practice will be eligible for accredited status in the future.
Membership also gives a market the opportunity to participate in developing our accreditation criteria and system.
Answering some questions might help you determine if you’re eligible for FMANSW membership.
- Do you have “farmers market”, “growers market” or “produce/producers market” in your name?
If so, what ratio of farmers to value-adders do you regularly have? If you have a ratio of at least 3 farmers (60%) to 2 value-adders (40%), you could be eligible for membership.
- Do you allow agents at your market?
If so, do you also have farmers and what ratio of farmers to agents do you regularly have? If you have a ratio of at least 5 farmers (83%) to 1 agent (17%), you could be eligible for membership.
- Do you allow non-food stalls at your market?
If so, what ratio of food to non-food stalls do you regularly have? If you have a ratio of at least 9 food stalls (90%) to 1 non-food stall (10%), you could be eligible for membership.
These questions and answers are not definitive, but are intended to help guide you. Every market is unique in its circumstances and character. The key indicator of whether a market is eligible for FMANSW membership is its ability to demonstrate measurable support for NSW farmers over and above any other stall holders at the market.
Yes!! Stall holders are what make markets. We want you to feel your interests are being represented at the state level and have the opportunity to directly participate in our decision making.
Other individuals and organisations who want to support the FMANSW Purpose & Charter are also welcome to join.
The only stall holders ineligible for membership are resellers, agents or other types of wholesalers and non-food vendors.
What are you waiting for? Apply online for membership now!
We’ve created a farmers market directory that makes it easy for you to find markets in your location. You can even search for markets within a certain distance from your postcode.
We’ll be adding more resources to our website as we progress, but the place to start is the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association website.
You’ll find a lot of helpful information to get your market established with good governance right from the start. They also have an excellent DVD that you can purchase.
If you sign up to our mailing list, we’ll let you know when we update the website with useful resources for starting a market and keeping it running for the benefit of everyone.
Before the “s”, after the “s”, no apostrophe at all… which one is right?
We say let the apostrophes fall where they may! No grammar policing here.
We also say that a farmers market does not belong to the farmers. It is a market of farmers that belongs to the community.
No apostrophe also keeps it nice and simple.