Meet the Finalists - Warragul Farmers Market
The spirit of the Warragul Farmers Market has always sparkled, but it has really shone a bright light throughout in 2020, giving Gippsland fresh food businesses a way to continue a vital connection to community and customers.
The market always has and always will be a friendly, grounded way for people to connect with the producers, makers, and growers.
The inclusive personality and welcoming vibe of this busy monthly event is a credit to the tireless volunteers who make it possible via the extraordinary amount of hours they invest in planning to make it possible for stall holders to bring it to life with their wares every month.
Originally fueled by a common purpose to give Gippslanders better access to fresh local food and provide local producers another selling platform, the market has thrived and grown to now showcase more than 60 businesses selling locally grown produce along with handmade specialty foods and goods.
This commitment to supporting local producers, farmers, growers, and makers has been officially acknowledged with a place on this year’s finalist list in the Excellence in Service to the Food & Fibre Industry – a category proudly supported by Agriculture Victoria.
This award aims to recognise either a service provider who has made an outstanding contribution, or volunteer work that makes a significant contribution to the food and fibre sector.
Warragul Farmers Market Committee President, Louise Leighton says the recognition is fantastic, and it feels like a big thank you to the volunteers who give up many hours of their own time to ensure that the market runs smoothly every month.
Run by a passionate committee of locals, over the years the market has proven to be a very successful launching pad for a number of Gippsland businesses, with start-ups like Little Bumble Wraps who began with a market stall a few years ago now exporting their colourful food saving beeswax wraps to Asia.
The market committee is always looking ahead for different ways they can collaborate with their community, and a brilliant initiative that has now been running for five years, is the Warragul Kids Farmers Market.
Organised in conjunction with ( and held at ) Warragul Primary School, this innovative event has grown to 50 stalls and brings out the entrepreneur in a wide cross section of children, encouraging them to consider getting involved in agriculture and business.
Every year the experience has a positive impact on its participants, with many of the children progressing to help out at the regular monthly market stalls after their Kids Market Day.
After seven years, the commitment to the local community remains rock solid and the Warragul Farmers Market continues to explore ways to increase participation from small producers throughout the region, through mentorship and assistance.
And when possible they plan to re-start their outreach activity to inspire the local market culture in other areas, building from the successful Go East program rolled out in March this year.
The Go-East initiative resulted in a small series of successful local produce filled events in Lakes Entrance and Bruthen, supporting communities and producers impacted by the summer bushfires.
Whilst covid-19 and social distancing has changed the contact interaction at the markets, the happy vibe is remains, as Warragul locals, together with fellow Gippslanders from further afield, continue to flock to Civic Park on the 3rd Saturday of every month from 8am to 1pm to fill their shopping baskets with a colourful array of fresh local produce and artisan food products.