Violin music greeted over a thousand shoppers as they arrived at the Bentleigh Farmers’ Market held on the fourth Saturday of every month at Bentleigh Primary School. Over fifty store holders set up their produce displaying a colourful array of organic fruit and veg, delicious assortments of local berry jams and infused orange blossom honey.
Market manager of thirteen years Geoff Rankin shared his passion for the farmers’ market industry expressing how the ‘trade off on freshness’ is of upmost importance.
“Some markets have too many resellers and processed take away food which takes away from what a farmers market should be, which is predominantly fresh produce,” Geoff says.
Geoff said local farmers’ markets need to follow the Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association guidelines, which is to provide locally grown, fresh produce.
“I try to have 60 to 70 percent of store holders with fresh produce, if it’s farm origin I try to include things like fresh honey, you’ve got to have your honey and eggs.
“If I didn’t do farmers’ markets I’d miss my free range eggs, they are the best I don’t trust the ones out of the supermarket.”
East Bentleigh Primary School is a proud supporter of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program, which teaches the students to grow and cook their own produce.
Geoff says he loves setting up famers’ markets at schools which have a positive food culture, sharing how East Bentleigh Primary School is “teaching their kids the benefit of eating their own nutritional food.”
Store holder Phil from Sunny Creek Organic has been in the farming industry since the 1980’s, he specialises in growing berries “particularly raspberries and blackberries.”
Phil says it is important to have a variety of products to sell due to the changing seasons as it allows an assortment of crops to be grown and sold all year round.
He says it can be “challenging” competing with mainstream supermarkets but “word of mouth and personal trust” with customers keeps the farmers’ market industry alive.
Geoff shares how Bentleigh Farmers’ Market is environmentally friendly with it’s no plastic bag and cup policy, they provide biodegradable and reusable coffee cups from their coffee truck.
“Anywhere we can use products that breakdown it’s going to help the environment,” Geoff says.
Geoff hopes to continue bringing fresh produce to local communities, sharing his vision to “bring the country to the city.”
(The next market will be August 26th, 2017. Visit the Bentleigh Farmer’s Market website for more info.)
Teaching young ones about the importance of fresh produce. Photo: Celeste Marinelli
Phil’s array of seasonal produce. Photo: Celeste Marinelli
Exchanging of goods! Fresh berries! Photo: Celeste Marinelli
Purchase two bouquets for $10. Photo: Celeste marinelli