Market welcomes small growers

Excited to welcome fresh produce to the Southern Farmers Markets on Sundays are: (from left) Koha Kai chief executive Janice Lee, Coin South general manager Louise Evans, Southern Farmers Market volunteer William Robertson, chairwoman Annette Trent, co-organiser Rachel Robertson and Koha Kai market garden co-ordinator Gina Barnett.

A NEW stall at the Southern Farmers Market invites growers within the Invercargill area to bring in their fresh produce.

Market chairwoman Annette Trent said the main motivation to start the Fresh Produce Community stall began when they realised the number of small growers throughout New Zealand had majorly decreased during the past 36 years.

“There were over 24,000 growers nationwide in 1986 and it has now reduced to 900, so a lot of the farmers’ markets are finding it difficult to get small growers in.”

They partnered with Coin South and Koha Kai to bring the initiative to life late last year.

“We started with Koha Kai produce, and this has significantly increased in 2022 from the 9th of January with a local carrot grower joining us, then Amalia Organics and an avid gardener from Otatara joined us a couple of weeks ago in February, plus a couple more local home gardeners,” Mrs Trent said.

The base principle of the stall was to encourage members of the community to bring in their excess produce and get a cut of any sales.

“It’s a great option for people who have leftover produce in their gardens, especially at this time of year.

“We hope it will encourage more people to grow and for us to get fresh healthy produce for the market.”

They also hoped to reduce produce wastage and keep the produce prices well priced and affordable, she said.

Feedback from consumers had been positive.

“Locals have responded very well to it and the feedback has been awesome but we want to reach out to other people in the community who would like to bring in their produce it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a lot or a little.”

Some of the vegetables and fruit sold at the stall on Sunday included carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes and swedes.

Koha Kai market garden co-ordinator Gina Barnett said they were glad to take part in the new initiative.

The not-for-profit charitable trust had a private outdoor market garden on Findlay Rd and two tunnel houses on its East Rd site.

The stall allowed them to promote their spray-free, chemical-free produce, she said.

“We run market gardens for the purpose of teaching people with disabilities life skills and to empower them to have a purpose in life, so it has been great to bring our produce here.”

held at the former Invercargill Railway Station on Leven St every Sunday.

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