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Use farmers’ markets or lose ‘em

Concerns are growing for the future of local farmers’ markets due to the worsening cost of living crisis.

Alex Morrissey, who owns Pirinoa-based Little Farms, told the Times-Age it’s important to shop and support local as it provides resilience.

“When supply chains get caught short due to environmental issues, fuel prices, and adverse events, if we don’t have local food, then we don’t have food,” Morrissey said.

“When things go wrong, we need local food, but if we don’t support local producers when times are good, then when we need them, they might not exist.”

While Morrissey believes that there is a section of Wairarapa’s community who “really care” about supporting local food producers, she said that Wairarapa markets are not well supported.

“As a grower, you need to be selling out at markets; otherwise, it isn’t economically viable and creates wastage in the food system – we have been selling less and less every year,” Morrissey said.

“This means the growers are less willing to go to markets as there’s a good chance they will be driving home at the end of the day with lots of unsold produce,” she said.

For a long time, Morrissey has been pushing for greater support of farmers’ markets, but after four years of attending local markets, she said it’s now getting to a point where it feels “naïve” to believe that they are the future.

“There is just so much uncertainty and wastage in the market model. Farmers spend months growing food, hours harvesting, washing, prepping, and then a day standing at the market trying to sell it, only to be able to sell a fraction of what they have taken.

“This is why Little Farms has opted for a Vegetable Box model.”

To prevent wastage, the food is only harvested after it’s been ordered and paid for.

“Sadly, I think in a world that’s obsessed with convenience, farmers markets will struggle to survive.”

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