Local markets bring community together
A sense of community connection and a desire to support local producers is leading to more Australian shoppers ditching the supermarket in favour of their local farmers’ market, according to new research by Griffith University nutrition students.
Students from the University’s Nutrition and Dietetics program examined why people visited their local market, using the Murwillumbah Farmers’ Market as a case study. Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics student Courtney Robinson says she and her fellow students discovered the market played a vital role in creating a sense of community connection.
“It really holds a place in people’s hearts,” she says. “One of the shoppers called it their ‘happy place’. Everyone commented on the sense of community connection that it brings them and keeps them coming to the market every week.”
The students’ research also found that Australian farmers’ markets have gone from strength to strength during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen many other businesses suffer.
“We found anecdotal evidence from stallholders that sales and numbers of shoppers had increased,” Robinson says. “I think people feel more confident about the food supply chain when they buy from local producers, and shoppers are keen to support local businesses.”
Griffith University clinical educator Narelle Greenlees says the research project had helped identify a number of benefits provided by the humble farmers’ market.
“The students interviewed a range of people for this project – from teenagers to elderly residents, newcomers and long-term locals, some coming for breakfast, some doing their regular weekly shop,” she says. “We found that people visited the market for a variety of health, social, environmental and economic reasons. It’s a great way to promote healthy eating, and the fact that farmers’ markets support local producers, cut down on our carbon footprint and help boost the local economy makes it a win-win.”
Greenlees says the study gave students a broader perspective on nutrition and dietetics.
“It’s not just about diet, it’s looking at health holistically,” she explains. “This project has given our students an awareness of environmental sustainability and the mental health benefits of shopping local.”
To find your local farmers’ market and help support local producers, head to farmersmarkets.org.au