And the task became much bigger with the decision to launch an online shop. Even though the essence of the Farmers’ Market is its ability to bring people together, “feeling, touching, talking, understanding, learning”, COVID-19 changed everything. “The whole world was frightened,” says Kat “and also worried about not having enough food, which was funny because farmers will keep farming and you can’t stop things growing”. The Markets had a couple of very quiet weeks with people staying home, and there was concern for the livelihoods of local producers, as well as community members’ ability to access good quality, fresh food. A few hard weeks of gathering photographs and learning the nuts and bolts of e-commerce resulted in the online shop, part funded through the Shire’s COVID-19 Community Care Package. The online market had good uptake, helping a lot of people through those difficult months, but with restrictions easing it has now gone on the back burner, ready to be relaunched if needed.
Kat likes a challenge, and isn’t necessarily all that fond of repetitive tasks, but the pace of change over the last ten years has kept her on her toes. When she first started, the Markets were located at the Community Centre, there were only about 20 regular stallholders selling produce every 2nd & 4th Saturday. That number now gets up to 60 producers, with a weekly market and huge variety of goods. The diversity of produce continues to grow, with hemp seed products and hemp milk being the newest addition, and everything from staple vegetables to organic meats on offer.
If you still haven’t experienced the Margaret River Farmers’ Market, it is on every Saturday morning for four hours at the Margaret River Education Campus, on Bussell Hwy. In the warmer months it runs from 7:30am, but in the cooler months when we’re all a bit slower to rise it kicks off at 8am. The new car park makes it is easier than ever to drive in and out, and of course you can walk or ride.
For more information on the Margaret River Farmers’ Market: www.margaretriverfarmersmarket.com.au/