Harvest Market Launceston

Local market harvests fresh produce and community spirit

Every Saturday morning come rain, hail or shine, Launceston’s Cimitere St car park fills with fresh local produce and milling market goers.

Four years ago, Jenny Edis moved from Melbourne to Tasmania and dreamt of a farmers market that showcased the state’s wide range of locally grown and made produce. Last year, she met Mary Mulvaney to whom she shared her vision. Together, the pair began planning to realise the dream.

They compiled a feasibility study and surveyed 200 people in the city centre to find out if Launceston was ready for a regular food-only market. The survey showed overwhelming support for the idea, and reflected the community’s desire to have access to fresh local produce on a weekly basis. The council responded positively and encouraged the team to consider Cimitere St car park – an optimal location that would help to revitalise the city centre.

Kim Seagram came on board soon after and her strong connections in the local community propelled the process forward as the Harvest Market team were introduced to a network of interested parties who offered pro bono work and support to help lay the ground work that was required. A committee was established, which adhered closely to the guidelines of the Australian Farmers Market Association – an organisation that operates in other Australian states and has proven to be a success in many communities.

Harvest Market was officially launched in conjunction with Festivale on the weekend of February 11, 2012. 3000 people attended the launch and today the market sees a weekly crowd of between 1500 and 2000.

The market committee organises and hosts regular events to nurture their ‘Love food. Love Tasmania’ ethos. In June, celebrated chef Ash Mair returned home from the U.K after winning the Professional Masterchef series. Ash visited the harvest market, in conjunction with the Savour Tas initiative, to share a cooking demonstration using fresh market produce. When Ash spoke about local Tasmanian produce he said the quality was significantly better than the foods he’d worked with in London. “You just can’t get your hands on fresh food of such high quality over there… and with such flavour”.

A delightful sense of community involvement adds zest to the Harvest market, with visitors enjoying the opportunity to speak directly with the farmers about their produce. In turn, the stall holders have evolved their offerings to meet the needs and requests of customers.

Sandy Waites’ stall is packed with baskets, piled high with homemade sourdough loaves, plain and almond croissants, wholemeal almond honey cakes and pain au chocolat. A nursing student during the week, Sandy leases a commercial bakery kitchen every Friday night and bakes the night through to sell his produce fresh on market morning. “We can’t make enough” says Sandy, with wide eyes. “The first few weeks we were selling out by 10am… lately we’ve made it to 11am”

Michael, a satisfied visitor, stops on his way out of the market with two full bags of produce in each hand – “This market is my new favourite thing about living in Launceston. We love it!”

Launceston’s Harvest Market is held at Cimitere St car park from 9am to 1pm every Saturday of the year.

Words & Images: Georgie Armstrong

© 2011 Tasmanian Lifestyle Magazine
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