LEONGATHA could be the latest town in South Gippsland to have a farmers market, 16 years after the birth of Victoria’s farmers market movement in Koonwarra.
Community College Gippsland is leading the push for a farmers market in Leongatha and is hoping to secure a $20,000 grant through Regional Development Victoria to make it happen.
A feasibility study to show how a Leongatha farmers market would be viable is now being developed to support the grant application.
Business consultant Erika McInerny founded the Warragul Farmers Market and has been charged with putting together the study for Leongatha.
“The feasibility study will be finished in November,” she said.
“This includes business consultation, looking at the region and whether or not it will support another farmers market.”
Ms McInerny said the market was yet to be confirmed, but the concept had received positive support from the community.
“We are looking at the achievements of close markets, including Warragul, and the far reaching positive effects on the community, even down to creating the local food movement,” she said.
“It has been really positive for Warragul.”
Koonwarra and Coal Creek Farmers Market Incorporated market manager Rod Faudell has been involved in farmers markets for almost 16 years.
He said despite a network of four markets already operating in the region, a Leongatha farmers market would be supported.
Mr Faudell said many local producers were interested in going to Leongatha, especially those who could not attend markets at Coal Creek or Koonwarra.
“A Leongatha market would give producers an opportunity to attend a new market,” he said.
“It is important not to duplicate similar products; markets need a wide range. It makes it much more exciting for the customers.”
When the Koonwarra market started, it was the only one in Victoria.
“Some people are concerned that we are getting too many markets. We do have a limited population down here. If Leongatha comes in, we will have the most concentrated number of markets for the population in Victoria,” Mr Faudell said.
“It will mean a large number of markets to support. People are enthusiastic to see the market developed, however it comes down to the spending power of the local community.”
Mr Faudell said farmers markets aimed to support local producers, and give people access to local produce and the chance to meet producers.
“It all started with Koonwarra 16 years ago and has grown all over Victoria fairly rapidly. Now there are at least 100 farmers markets in the state,” he said.
“When the Koonwarra market first started, we struggled to find 30 local producers in the whole of Gippsland. Now we have 55 producers just in the southern Gippsland region.”
Community College Gippsland was contacted for contacted for comment.
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