Farmers markets feast for the senses

THE smell of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked bread. The taste of locally grown fruit and vegetables. The charm of home-made jams and chutneys. It is this feast for the senses that is drawing western Sydney residents to farmers markets around the region.

The allure of buying fresh produce grown locally is expanding greatly with residents turning out in droves to support local farmers.

One such enterprise is the Hawkesbury Harvest Farmers and Fine Food Market in Castle Hill, which has seen a rapid expansion since it started at the Showground in 2002.

Parramatta Farmers Markets for Council Chatter brief 27/2.

Parramatta Farmers Markets for Council Chatter brief 27/2.

Growers market stall holder Stuart Richardson with Anj Prasad of Merrylands who regularly shops at the markets. 10 January, 2014. Photo: Gene Ramirez

Growers market stall holder Stuart Richardson with Anj Prasad of Merrylands who regularly shops at the markets. 10 January, 2014. Photo: Gene Ramirez

Growers market stall holder Stuart Richardson with Anj Prasad of Merrylands who regularly shops at the markets. 10 January, 2014. Photo: Gene Ramirez

Growers market stall holder Stuart Richardson with Anj Prasad of Merrylands who regularly shops at the markets. 10 January, 2014. Photo: Gene Ramirez

Hawkesbury Harvest secretary Alan Eagle said it all began with four farmers markets in Sydney.

"There are 42 now," Mr Eagle said.

At Castle Hill Hawkesbury Harvest had to add one more market day a month, and it now operates on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.

"People wanted more access to fresh food," he said. "We get 3500 people on the second Saturday."

It features 70 stalls on the second Saturday and 40 stalls on the fourth.

Part of the appeal of farmers markets, which is contributing to their rise in popularity, is that the money goes directly back to the farmers.

"[Farmers markers] are run for the farmers and we want the farmers to get more access to distribution markets," Mr Eagle said.

"The dollars go straight into farmers' pockets."

Hawkesbury Harvest established another market in Glenorie last year which has been going strong.

Farmers markets in the region continue to pop-up and expand, offering more opportunities for residents to discover local produce.

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