Monday, March 2, 2009

Healesville Organic Market

This market is quite different to most of the so called “farmers markets’ that have sprung up around Melbourne. It was an initiative of the Yarra Valley Permaculture Group as a way of improving the quality and security of our food supply. Five years ago it established the market, aiming to encourage locals to produce organic food for sale to their community.

Over the years it has steadily grown and become a main source of local organic food in the area. Although only a small market, there are a wide range of products for sale including seasonal vegetables and fruits, honey, compost worms, garlic, bees wax, pottery, nature photographs, juices, breads, seeds, plants and more. Some weeks we are joined by extra stalls selling wooden toys, chook feeders, soaps, chai tea, jams and preserves and delicious food for morning tea. There is also a stall that supplies organic food from Victoria Market that cannot be grown locally.
The concept of keeping food miles to a minimum is more important than ever as oil becomes scarce and global warming worsens. Apart from its environmental benefits there are economic, health and social benefits as well. Shoppers are supporting local growers, the organic food is free of pesticides and other chemicals, and often picked the night before or that morning- we are REAL fresh food people. The market has become a regular Saturday morning social occasion. Unlike many other markets the focus is not so much on making money but on enriching and supporting the community.

Growers and buyers usually know each other by name and spend time chatting and sharing news, gardening tips or networking. On fine days customers sit and have a bit to eat or drink as they catch up with friends. The market is held every Saturday morning from 8am to 1 pm outside the Healesville Railway Station.

As our society has become more complex and more interlinked globally, it has also in some ways become more fragile. A natural disaster, accident, a poorly thought through government or business policy or terrorist attack can have terrible consequences for large numbers of people. In the last 10 years we have seen the effects of company crashes, gas plant explosions, oil shortages, energy shortages, water shortages etc. We can build some protection from these events by developing resilient communities. Communities and individuals are starting to take on responsibility for the necessities of life by generating their own power, storing their own water and growing their own food. This concept can be taken further through projects such as the Transition Town concept. Gavin's ( ) latest blog entry describes in great detail the exent to which our society has become dependent on oil and how the transition Towns model may hold many of the answers.

Although our organic market’s focus is on food supply we are doing our best to promote other elements of community resilience. The market offers opportunities to network, share ideas and promote community activities and hopefully provides a model that can be taken up by other communities.

If you are up Healesville way on a Saturday morning, drop in to the market and say hello to us at the Tenderbreak Permaculture Farm stall and the other stallholders. Most of us have been through the fires or been very close, so seeing faces not covered in soot makes a pleasant change.


Unknown said...

The Healesville Organic Farmers Market is now located at Coronation Park, 95~110 River Street, Healesville. Every Saturday from 8am to 1pm.

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