Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - PHOTO: Jamie Kron­borg

Cana­dian vis­i­tors Jay and Molly Pater­son, from the Van­cou­ver com­mu­nity of White Rock in Bri­tish Columbia, on Tues­day joined Kay Walker, Mar­lene Costello, Wendy Kelly and Beech­worth Ro­tary pres­i­dent Les­ley Browne for Mel­bourne Cup day break­fast at Ro­tary’s re­fur­bished for­mer Guide hall in Queen Vic­to­ria Park ahead of this week­end’s Beech­worth Celtic Fes­ti­val. Ro­tary takes a lead­ing role in the fes­ti­val, host­ing a ma­jor mar­ket in the park, rais­ing funds with ba­con and egg rolls at the hall, and pro­vid­ing din­ner for massed bands’ pipers and drum­mers and other per­form­ers at what will be an in­au­gu­ral tat­too in Old Beech­worth Gaol on Satur­day evening. Story: page 7. Celtic Fes­ti­val fea­ture and pro­gram:

IN the mod­ern world, it can be all too easy to lose sight of the ev­ery­day plea­sures of en­joy­ing healthy, lo­cally pro­duced food.

This is where the re­gion’s farm­ers’ mar­kets come in.

Run by lo­cals with a fer­vent in­ter­est in food and com­mu­nity, they help the re­gion’s pro­duc­ers sell di­rectly to the con­sumer.

Those ac­cred­ited with the Vic­to­rian Farm­ers’ Mar­ket As­so­ci­a­tion – which in­clude the mar­kets in Wan­garatta, Myrtle­ford and Wodonga Junc­tion – pro­vide pro­duc­ers with bench­mark stan­dards and prod­uct knowl­edge, as well as pre­vent­ing on-sell­ers.

Mary Daly is one of the pas­sion­ate lo­cals be­hind the Wan­garatta Farm­ers’ Mar­ket, which is held in Apex Park and cel­e­brates its third birth­day this week­end, and whose stalls con­tain a range of items, in­clud­ing lamb, beef, trout, sea­sonal fruits and veg­eta­bles, nuts, honey and more, as well as a range of value-added prod­ucts.

“You’re mak­ing that con­nec­tion with the per­son that grows your food,” Mary said, re­call­ing how the mar­ket be­gan with eight pro­duc­ers and now boasts any­where up to 40 stall hold­ers, de­pend­ing on the sea­son.

“We wanted our com­mu­nity to get back in touch with the peo­ple who grow their food and to give them the abil­ity to ask the farmer about their food and prac­tices.

“It is im­por­tant to us that our farm­ers and lo­cal pro­duc­ers have the op­por­tu­nity to gen­er­ate a vi­able in­come which is then fed back into our com­mu­nity.

“For our com­mu­nity it is im­por­tant that we pro­mote the value of healthy eat­ing and sus­tain­able pri­mary pro­duc­tion.”

Mary said she has “a pas­sion for grow­ing, sourc­ing, cook­ing, ed­u­cat­ing and con­sum­ing food cul­ti­vated within my fam­ily and driven by the enor­mous and var­ied pro­duce our re­gion can grow,” and she is also in­volved in the Com­mu­nity Food For All net­work.

She praised the work of the mar­ket’s or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee and vol­un­teer base, and said the event has be­come a com­mu­nity hub.

Mary said peo­ple are more in­ter­ested in know­ing where there food comes from, and how it’s grown, as well as be­com­ing more com­mit­ted to sus­tain­abil­ity by pur­chas­ing lo­cal pro­duce and re­duc­ing food waste.

“One of the re­ally im­por­tant is­sues we face in our so­ci­ety and our com­mu­nity is food ac­cess, food waste and food ed­u­ca­tion,” she said.

“A lot of food waste is around not just ex­cess avail­abil­ity but the cur­rent de­mands for ‘Per­fect’ looking food.

“We are work­ing to­wards ad­dress­ing these is­sues ev­ery month with food demon­stra­tions, cook­ing in the mar­ket, how to use your left-overs and how that crooked car­rot cooks up and tastes just like a car­rot should.”

Franca Nor­ris has been with the Myrtle­ford Farm­ers’ Mar­ket since its be­gin­ning and has a deep in­ter­est in all as­pects of farm­ing, farm­ers, and their so­cial con­nec­tions with those buy­ing their prod­uct.

“I en­deav­our to be the bridge for our lo­cals and vis­i­tors, to sup­port and have a re­la­tion­ship with the pri­mary pro­ducer and spe­cialty stall­hold­ers who work so hard in bring­ing qual­ity, lo­cal, fresh and sea­sonal prod­ucts to the com­mu­ni­ties in which they live,” she said.

“My Ital­ian up­bring­ing was very tra­di­tional, sim­ple, sea­sonal and sus­tain­able and has con­tin­ued to be so.

“We strive to share this type of healthy eat­ing/life­style through our cook­ing demon­stra­tions us­ing sea­sonal pro­duce at the mar­ket.”

The Myrtle­ford mar­ket sees prod­ucts sold from across the Ovens Val­ley, in­clud­ing fruits, cheeses, meats, nuts, seeds, fresh­wa­ter fish, eggs, wines, and much more.

Franca said mar­kets such as these are vi­tal to smaller pro­duc­ers and com­mu­ni­ties.

“Small com­mu­ni­ties re­ally de­pend on lo­cal dol­lars to be put back into cir­cu­la­tion to keep the next gen­er­a­tion mov­ing for­ward with work and op­por­tu­ni­ties,” she said.

“Farm­ers mar­kets are im­por­tant for the farmer to re­veal the re­wards of their hard work to the com­mu­nity, and an op­por­tu­nity for the com­mu­nity to ap­pre­ci­ate and sup­port that lo­cal busi­ness.”

Boyd Collins, from the Beech­worth Farm­ers’ Mar­ket, said the town’s mar- ket has been go­ing sev­eral years and reg­u­larly sees hun­dreds of peo­ple through the gates, and stall­hold­ers who come from as far afield as Dookie, Moyhu and Whit­field to sell meat, veg­eta­bles, fruit and more.

“We’ve got a nice lit­tle at­mos­phere here,” he said, adding that for small pro­duc­ers, it’s a “step­ping stone” to get into the mar­ket.

Beech­worth Farm­ers Mar­ket is on the first Satur­day of the month, while Wan­garatta Farm­ers Mar­ket is held on the sec­ond Satur­day of the month, Myrtle­ford Farm­ers Mar­ket is on the fourth Satur­day of each month, and the Wodonga Junc­tion Farm­ers Mar­ket is held on the first and third Satur­day of the month.

PHOTO: Emma Hil­lier

LO­CAL FOOD: Sally Col­son (Warby Range Cit­rus), Jenny An­der­son (Ruther­glen Lamb, seen here with ‘Shorn’ the lamb), Franca Nor­ris (Myrtle­ford Farm­ers Mar­ket) and Mary Daly (Wan­garatta Farm­ers Mar­ket) are among the pas­sion­ate lo­cals in­volved – or sell­ing...

DI­RECT TO CON­SUMER: Many flock to the Myrtle­ford Farm­ers Mar­ket each month, in­clud­ing Gary Wil­liamson and Kevin Tyrell.

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