A fresh produce market is expected to be launched in Maitland CBD within two months, following the huge success of last week’s pumpkin stall.
Slow Food Hunter Valley leader Amorelle Dempster will meet with Maitland City Council early next month to sort out the finer details.
She hopes the market will become the city’s premier weekly food event where shoppers will buy fresh fruit and vegetables in The Levee from Hunter farmers and enjoy a range of meal options from pop-up stalls.
She said the market could start at lunchtime on Thursdays, so workers could drop in during their lunch break, and finish in the early evening.
“People have gotten behind the idea of a market where they can buy produce that is locally grown,” Ms Dempster said.
“We need to make sure people can access a good variety of produce directly from our farmers.”
Ms Dempster has made the market her priority. It comes after thousands flocked to The Levee on March 24 and bought 20 tonnes of the pumpkin crop grown by Morpeth farmers Matthew Dennis and Tony Milburn.
The crop was destined to be fertiliser because the farmers would be lucky to break even if they sent them to the Sydney markets.
Dr Cameron Archer has thrown his support behind the Maitland market, saying it could revitalise vegetable production in the area.
“It will connect small farmers on the outskirts of Maitland with a population centre,” he said.
“There’s not a lot of vegetables grown around Maitland now, compared to years ago. This market will encourage more farmers to start growing vegetables and it could revitalise the industry.”
Council’s Martin Payne, the city and visitor economy coordinator, said the council was developing policies that would guide the use of The Levee for public events.
He said the success of the pumpkin stall showed the community wanted to use the space for a diverse range of activities.“[It was] a perfect opportunity to gauge the response,” he said.