A new certification scheme to guarantee the authenticity of produce sold at farmers’ markets was launched at the weekend by Minister for Food, Gail Gago, at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market.
Ms Gago said the scheme will verify that the person selling the food at the farmers’ market grew or made the product from mainly South Australian produce.
“I congratulate the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market on developing this initiative – one that is so important to the South Australian community,” Ms Gago said.
“We all enjoy the fresh produce and cheaper prices that farmers’ markets offer.
“Consumers also get an opportunity to talk first-hand with the growers and makers of the food they are buying and fewer steps between farm and market mean a reduced environmental footprint in food production.
“When you go to farmers’ markets you can be assured of where the produce you are buying comes from, as you are buying directly from the farmer who grew it.
“This is what differentiates farmers markets from supermarkets and this scheme seeks to maintain this integrity.
“We want to protect the important role they play in connecting with their communities, being an incubator for new food businesses and providing a growing distribution channel for South Australian produce and niche food products.”
The Adelaide Showground Farmers Market will trial the scheme for a year and train inspectors to ensure stallholders are meeting the current market rules for selling their own products.
Stallholders will also need to specify their methods of production, an important step towards helping to encourage sustainability.
Other South Australian farmers’ markets will have the opportunity to adopt the scheme from next October.
Ms Gago said Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) supported the development of the initiative, as part of the State Government’s focus on growing South Australia’s food industry.
PIRSA has provided $10,000 towards the pilot scheme.
“Farmers’ markets are growing in popularity across South Australia and even becoming a tourist attraction, creating a positive spin-off effect to our regional economies,” she said.
“The Adelaide Showground Farmers Market, which celebrated its sixth birthday last week, attracts almost 6000 visitors each Sunday and is expected to host about 120 local businesses by summer.
This week’s market day will showcase produce from the Riverland region.
“Many other farmers’ markets are still in their infancy, but are enjoying overwhelming community backing.”
South Australia’s food and wine industry is an important contributor to the State’s economy – generating more than $15 billion in revenue each year.