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The Capital Region Farmers Market has credited support from the Canberra community for the large part it has played in keeping local and regional farmers, growers and producers afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The community support we have seen has been astounding. Through locals continuing to visit and buy from our Market on Saturday mornings throughout the pandemic in 2020/2021, many farmers, growers and producers’ very livelihoods have been safeguarded,” said Capital Region Farmers Market Manager, Sarah Power.

“Many of our farmers were hit extremely hard in 2020, first with drought, then with the devastating summer bushfires, hail and then the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a credit to them that many of them kept going, to be there for the Canberra community during what was a hard time for all,” Sarah continued.

Sarah also acknowledged the Farmers Market Committee, run by the Rotary Club of Hall, in working quickly and responsively to stay in front of the Covid restrictions imposed at various times, being able to remain open as an essential service at a time when Canberrans needed access to fresh produce.

“It really has been a two-way support that has realised our success through this time – our growers have supported the Canberra community by ensuring a continued supply of fresh food, and our community has supported our growers’ livelihoods by continuing to shop at Market,” Sarah continued.

One business who has come through the other side in  this challenging year is Narooma Seafood Direct. At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, they lost all their export markets almost overnight, and were heavily reliant on the Market staying open. They continued to go to Market through the various lockdowns and say if it wasn’t for the Market they wouldn’t have survived.

“The Farmers Market has been completely necessary for us, it currently makes up almost all of our income,” said Hayley Abbott from Narooma Seafood Direct.

“We’ve had to change and adapt. We’ve cut back the number of days that we fish, and how much we catch, so that we have just enough for the Farmers Markets. Without them, we would be in a world of hurt,” Hayley continued.

She says that the Canberra community has been so positive and supportive and that it’s been great to maintain relationships, albeit with a bit of extra distance.

“We thank the Canberra community for all their support. They really don’t realise the true impact that buying fresh produce – whether it’s seafood or fruit and veg – has on the families that operate these small businesses,” Hayley continued.

On another positive note, as Covid restrictions have eased in the ACT, Sarah says they are starting to see a return to pre-Covid shopper numbers, and even more positively strong applications from new stallholders to refresh the Market’s offering for customers.

New to Market or about to begin are Food 2 Soil with liquid biofertilizer from food waste; The Little Farm That Could with grass fed lamb, goat and F1 Wagyu beef; Bolong River Produce with all year-round garlic and Yacon; Gourmet Thai with Thai satay and laksa pastes; Mad About Chai with homemade teas and chai; and Sweet Amilia with traditional and modern Greek sweets.  

“For those wanting to add the Farmers Market back into your regular Saturday morning plans, we’ve got lots of new and exciting stallholders to entice you, so be sure to come in and continue to support all our regular growers, producers and farmers, as well as meet some new friendly faces,” Sarah concluded.

Capital Region Farmers Market is open every Saturday 7.00am – 11.30am at Exhibition Park in Canberra. For more information visit www.capitalregionfarmersmarket.com.au

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