Local producers have supported a call for Maitland to host a regular farmers’ market to give consumers a cost-effective, quality-driven alternative to supermarkets.
The proposal was revived this week in talks between the operators of the Newcastle Farmers’ Markets and Maitland councillor Ray Fairweather over a suitable location to hold the markets in the city.
Whether at Walka Water Works or an alternative site, Michael Zazyza of Millers Forest said the markets could be a winner in this the Year of the Farmer.
“I think it would be a good thing; I’m all for it,” the boilermaker and part-time grower said.
“I would certainly consider selling my watermelons and pumpkins there.”
The proponents, NSW Farmers Markets’ operators Kevin Eade and Elizabeth Armstrong, first raised the idea in June 2010.
A development application was lodged but went no further when 50 objections were lodged by unknown people.
Cr Fairweather, as a member of the Walka advisory group, said there were no grounds for objection, reiterating the site was ideal.
“I don’t know of any objections but if they were lodged by Oakhampton Heights, that subdivision was only given approval on the grounds it didn’t affect Walka,” he said.
“I think council maybe needs to reassess this application for a Saturday market, which is a quiet day at Walka, that could help bring people back to central Maitland.”
Largs fruit and vegetable grower Chris Pillidge said any farmer would be foolish not to consider all the options for selling produce.
“Like anyone, farmers want to know the facts before they could commit,” he said.
“I sell through the centralised Newcastle [Sandgate] markets, to restaurants and the Newcastle Farmers’ Markets and always welcome another option.”
Mr Pillidge, who grows everything from asparagus to stringent lines of persimmons, said the avenues to sell changed to suit his circumstances.
When he had large quantities of quality produce his preference was the central markets, but with smaller, perishable produce he frequented the Newcastle Farmers’ Markets. “There is an important place for farmers’ markets; it’s a day out, and helps the community,” he said.