Bellingen Farmers & Producers Market

5 years ago | by Sally Scott

If you’re passionate about local food and supporting local farmers then the Bellingen Farmers & Produce Market is for you.

Bellingen Farmers & Producers Market is the first weekly market of its kind in the region, championing small local growers, with no large wholesalers permitted.

These unique, afternoon markets allow patrons to buy fresh, seasonal and locally grown fruit and vegetables, herbs and eggs direct from the producer as well as healthy snacks and meals to a backdrop of local entertainment.

Bellingen Farmers Market Philosophy

Founded by Louise Hensby, the Bellingen Farmers & Producers Market currently showcases around a dozen local stallholders from the local areas of Coffs, Bellingen, Clarence, Nambucca, Kempsey, Armidale and Port Macquarie.

Louise’s goal is to encourage locals to change their shopping habits shopping weekly, from local growers, buying nutrient dense food in season and reducing the single use plastic packaging and wrapping which “is vital for both the environment now and in the future” says Louise.

“Our global climate is constantly changing as a result of long term human impact.  Change starts with individuals and communities taking action.  Weekly farmers markets play a critical role in the development and strengthening of local food systems.  Low food miles is critical in reducing the impact on our planet, as is supporting those growers who make every effort to grow in respect and in harmony with nature and the environment. “

The Farmers & Producers

Bellingen Farmers & Growers Market encourages small producers to sell direct to the public. Some of the Farmers have formed a collective to share market attendance, transport costs as well as supporting each other. Louise says, “The collective tables are proving to be extremely popular for customers and farmers alike.  From a consumer perspective, it’s great to go to a market table and see a wide variety of produce on a table.  It is what captures a consumer’s attention.  From a grower’s perspective, they share the load – something that is relatively new in agriculture especially in small-scale farming.  They are even starting to share farm equipment, which is great to hear.”

A unique element of the Bellingen markets is they allow backyard growers and hobby farmers to sell their surplus to reduce food waste, engage with community and earn some extra money. Louise says “One community produce table now has 8 growers participating on the stall and there is even more interest from that food bowl region to contribute an even more diverse range of food.  This is going to be a new movement in small-scale agriculture I believe.   It happens in other parts of the globe, and Australia is slowly waking up to this need.  It’s not competition; it’s collaboration.“

It’s not just fresh produce on show; The Market Kitchen serves up ready to eat meals including soups, curries and healthy snacks for late lunch or early dinner. All fresh ingredients are sourced on the day from the stallholders, for the lowest food miles in town!

The market is a welcoming space for the community to meet and be entertained. Local musicians also have a chance to be showcased with folk sensation Yhan Leal providing some soulful tunes on our visit.

A benefit of browsing the markets is to meet the growers and chat directly to the farmer about the health benefits, cooking techniques and more.

One stallholder, Hearthfire Sourdough Bakery has a store in Bellingen, but also takes a stall at the markets to make it easy for shoppers. Owner Dave Larson says, “you build a community, you build a town.”

Bellingen Markets is a place for artisans, musicians and farmers to gather and connect.

Bellingen Farmers & Producers Market are held weekly on Wednesdays at Bellingen Showgrounds from 2.30pm-6.00pm and daylight savings 3.30pm-6.30pm.

Bellingen Farmers and Growers Market, Bellingen Showgrounds Bellingen NSW 2454