Sunday market seeking fresh faces

KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 09:35 29/08/2012
tdn market stand
TARANAKI DAILY NEWS
Organiser of the farmers market have put a call out for more stallholders.

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A Taranaki Farmers' Market trustee is tired of defending a lack of interest in the market and says they have tried everything to encourage sellers to join in.

Richard Sheldrake said people who have been to large markets in other parts of the country are often critical of the lack of stallholders at Taranaki Farmers' Market on a Sunday morning.

"I'm sick of explaining it. We're actually doing really well if you look at the amount of producers we have relative to the amount of stallholders."

Market coordinator Shirley Birt said one Sunday the market had as few as seven stallholders and another as many as 25, but usually had around 12.

Mr Sheldrake made a graphic which he posted on the farmers' market Taranaki Facebook page which pointed out that the Hawke's Bay phonebook lists 29 fruit and vegetable growers, 11 food processors and 63 vineyards while Taranaki's offering are limited to one fruit and vegetable grower, one food processor and one cheese maker (Fonterra).

"We just can't compare to a place like Hawke's Bay which has hundreds of orchards and vineyards."

Mr Sheldrake said getting people to become stallholders was difficult.

"We've tried everything. We've done advertising in the paper and radio shows and shoulder-tapped people, but nothing works."

He said that while people often appeared interested in having a stall at the market, few of those followed through and signed up.

"At first it's: 'Oh yes it would be nice to have a stall at the farmers' market' but then they realise what's involved. Once you've done the harvesting and packaging up and then selling, your whole weekend's gone."

Mrs Birt put out a call on Facebook for more stallholders earlier this month. She asked for people with asparagus, fresh flowers, fish and cheese to fill the gap in the market.

"Fruit's another thing.

"We don't have a lot of fruit. The occasional bits and pieces, and the blueberries, but there's not a lot."

Mr Sheldrake said people were coming to the market and finding it too small and deciding not to return. Stallholders then chose not return because of a lack of customers.

"It's a bit of a chicken and egg situation."

But trustee Shaun Biesiek said growth wasn't essential. "What we've got is sustainable. We've got regular stallholders and regular customers, so we can keep going."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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