MidCoast Council extends deadline on draft market policy

Bent On Food owner, Donna Carrier with Annette Owen-Mulder and Les Mulder of The Edible Forest. The trio are proud of the Bent on Food Tuesday Farmer's Market. Photo: Ainslee Dennis.
Bent On Food owner, Donna Carrier with Annette Owen-Mulder and Les Mulder of The Edible Forest. The trio are proud of the Bent on Food Tuesday Farmer's Market. Photo: Ainslee Dennis.

The current and future capacity of local markets to set up and sell during the week is under threat.

MidCoast Council seeks to adopt a market policy that in part proposes, “markets may only operate on weekends and public holidays.” 

The draft policy, the timing of its release to the public, and the January 2 deadline, escaped the attention of many market stallholders and became the catalyst for a social media campaign by The Secret Weekly Farmers Market. It acted to highlight the potential threat to the market on its Facebook page, and issued an urgent call for the community to make submissions supporting the community benefit of the market by operating in Taree every Thursday in the grounds of Johnny Martin Oval. The campaign saw MidCoast Council announce on January 4 that it would extend the deadline for comment to January 14.

“It’s a busy time of year.  The feedback from the community has continued to come through and we wanted to give the public an opportunity to have their say,” Deb Tuckerman, manager Growth, Economic Development and Tourism said.

“This is our first integrated market policy for MidCoast Council and it’s important to make sure we have considered how it applies to all our markets taking place on public land.”

The draft policy is extensive, and council is seeking to support “the sustainable operation of markets.” It is The Secret Weekly Farmer’s Market in Taree, and the Bent on Food Tuesday Farmer’s Market in Wingham, which could be impacted by the proposed operating criteria that “markets may only operate on weekends and public holidays.” 

Bent on Food owner, Donna Carrier believes markets in town, during the week help to drive support and sales for local businesses.

Markets in town during the week help bricks and mortar businesses. People shop for locally grown produce and products at the market, but will also visit other businesses to have a coffee, stop for lunch, do other shopping. Markets adds to experience.

Bent on Food owner, Donna Carrier.

“Markets in town during the week help bricks and mortar businesses. People shop for locally grown produce and products at the market, but will also visit other businesses to have a coffee, stop for lunch, do other shopping. Markets adds to experience,” Donna said.

“Tuesday is one of our busiest days and over time, it is now one of the busiest days in Wingham. I think this market has played a part in contributing to that growth.

“It is important that markets be able to set-up during the week as long as they sell artisan products and local produce.”

Donna Carrier of Bent on Food, Annette Owen-Mulder and Les Mulder believe their market supports bricks and mortar businesses in Wingham.

Donna Carrier of Bent on Food, Annette Owen-Mulder and Les Mulder believe their market supports bricks and mortar businesses in Wingham.

Les Mulder and Annette Owen-Mulder of The Edible Forest sell at the market in front of Bent on Food every Tuesday. 

Everything is grown locally, made locally with Les proudly sharing, “the furthest any of this food travels is the honey, and it comes from Mooral Creek about 25 kilometres away.”

They are proud of the market and know its value to the Wingham community – they measure support by repeat sales and the sharing of positive and supportive conversations.

Les says their market does support other bricks and mortar businesses in Wingham, and cites as evidence a positive relationship with Granty’s Fruit and Vegetables that is across the road.

“They tell us that they don’t have a problem with a small market that is by local farmers, for local farmers, for local people,” Les said.

“Where they say they have a problem, and where I think it is perfectly reasonable to have a problem, is if there is something that calls itself a ‘farmer’s market’ in town that’s actually got wholesalers selling stuff. We are not bringing anything in from other areas unlike other markets. It has to be locally grown.”

“If it's not in season, and we don't have it then we will send them to Granty's,” Annette adds.

“Our community values this market. Tim sold out of his eggs by 9.30am this morning and often, by the time he gets here they are still warm.

“Sometimes he will ring and say, ‘I’ll be a little late because I’m catching them as they come out!’ He wipes them, stamps them, boxes them and brings them, and they are still warm, they are so fresh and people say they are fantastic.”

To read the draft market policy and provide feedback by January 14 visit council’s website www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/Have-Your-Say

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