Market move stops passersby in their tracks

After operating at the Old Uniting Church Hall for the past 18 months, the Tenterfield Farmers and Producers Market is having an overhaul of how it operates, to make it a more-attractive prospect for stallholders and visitors alike.

Initially under the banner of the Granite Borders Landcare Group, the operation was becoming a drain on the group's limited resources so Landcare's Mandy Craig invited a mix of people with an interest in the market's success to sit on a steering group to throw around ideas.

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That group comprised Ms Craig along with Steve Ost (Landcare), Harry Bolton (Tenterfield Shire Council), Caitlin Reid (tourism officer), Chris Jones (business chamber), Steve Haslam and Bianca Wicks (site owners), Jodie Magner (stallholder) and Beate Sommer (regular market-goer).

The markets will now be self-governing with Ms Wicks volunteering to coordinating stall bookings and general administration during the week, and Mrs Magner taking over on market days, collecting fees, directing stall setup and dealing with any issues.

The steering group also devised an action list, starting with moving all the stalls outside (weather-permitting) not only to create a more vibrant market atmosphere but to attract passersby. This has been done the past three markets with great success with more people pulling up and some stalls selling out. A fire pit and more tables and chairs are adding to the convivial atmosphere.

While the community table is in hiatus (it used to be manned by Landcare staff), half-stalls can be booked for as little as $7.50 a week ($5 with your own insurance), so it doesn't cost much for newcomers to try the waters. Powered sites cost an additional $10.

Organisers are keen to get more local growers and artisans involved, and for shoppers local and otherwise to not only support these efforts but to take advantage of all that farmers markets offer. This includes low food miles, fresh and unique products and that market vibe.

Other initiatives on the action list include phasing out single-use plastics (so bring your own bag or basket), more signage and advertising, kids activities like face-painting and, even buskers. It's hoped to also get service clubs back on board with a barbecue roster.

Ms Craig thanked the volunteers for stepping up to take control of the reinvigorated markets. The steering group will reassess in a month or so to see how well the changes are going and what further tweaking can be done.