Melbourne Farmers Markets, the not-for-profit that operates farmers markets across the city, is classed as an essential service, so it’ll continue to run its weekend markets in the coming weeks, selling seasonal produce from Victorian farmers to urban communities.
The markets – at Carlton North Primary School, Coburg Primary School, Collingwood Children’s Farm, the Abbotsford Convent, Gasworks Arts Park in South Melbourne and Melbourne Innovation Centre in Alphington – have adopted new measures to help keep shoppers safe.
“We’re looking at it from week to week, hearing feedback and figuring out what works for others and ourselves,” says Miranda Sharp, managing director of Melbourne Farmers Market. “There’s none of the beautiful social aspect sadly … [but] we’re making sure we’re consistent with the regulations for the rest of the industry.”
That means cash-free sales, no handling of produce except by stallholders, strict adherence to social-distancing rules, and, where possible, limiting the number of shoppers to one per household.
Ready-to-eat stalls are still doing takeaway, but tables and chairs have been removed.
“People are being incredibly supportive,” says Sharp. “There was some really measured, careful, respectful shopping [last weekend]. And we’ve had so much feedback that people want options and [that they] feel safe in the open air.
“We’re trying to create something that’s lasting from all the upheaval that we’re living through. And we’re all saying we want to know where our food comes from – that hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s probably more important than ever.”
A new online marketplace stocking regional produce has also launched. The range is growing, but it will always include a seasonal selection of produce, and staples such as dairy, sweets and honey. And coffee. “That’s a Melbourne staple,” says Sharp.
It’ll operate a bit like a drive-through: order online, then collect from a large, open site in Alphington.
Online marketplace orders can be collected from 2 Wingrove Street, Alphington. Order by 2pm Monday to collect on Wednesday or on Sunday between 3pm and 5pm. Order by 2pm Thursday to collect on Sunday. Easter holiday hours differ. Find more information and the full list of upcoming markets here, or shop online here.