20th birthday of Healesville Organic Farmers Market

Healesville Organic Farmers Market is a weekly basis market held every Saturday. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Dongyun Kwon

The Healesville Organic Farmers Market celebrated its 20th birthday this autumn.

The market started at the Railway Station Precinct as a joint venture between Permaculture Yarra Valley and the Yarra Valley Tourist Railway on 13 March 2004 aimed to provide local chemical-free and fresh produce on a weekly basis through a regular outlet for local small-scale growers.

Healesville Organic Farmers Market co-founder Graeme George said the market was established with the motto ‘Think global, eat local: keep your dollars in the Yarra Valley’.

“A lot of environmentalists have been talking about thinking globally and acting locally to overcome the problems of globalisation,” he said.

“We didn’t want to follow the pattern of farmers markets around Victoria on a monthly basis because people who wanted to buy fresh food had to travel to a different place every weekend.

“We are one of the first farmers markets to be operating on a weekly basis which went really successfully.”

Mr George was engaged in teaching permaculture and was a committee member of Permaculture Yarra Valley at the time, so he could be in part of the market’s establishment process.

“I trained people in permaculture and organic growing methods and I could see the need for an outlet for them to sell their produce,” he said.

The market operated at the Railway Station Precinct for eight years before moving to its present location at Coronation Park in 2012.

Over the years, the market has stayed focused on its original purpose and has attracted many locals who are concerned for their own health and the health of the planet as well as being supportive of local enterprises.

In 2016, the market stallholders incorporated as an independent not-for-profit association.

“We’ve got stalls selling a wide range of seasonal fruit and vegetables, honey, free range eggs, baked goods, flowers, plants, seeds, locally roasted coffee and locally produced cheeses and beverages,” Mr George said.

“Also specialised mushrooms. Gourmet mushrooms are very popular.”

The market has always had a social side with like-minded locals catching up every Saturday morning for a chat with friends and stallholders.

Find the market from 8.30am to 12pm at Coronation Park on River Street.