THE farmers’ market at Broadmeadow showground plans to expand its operations to twice a week, as demand increases for fresh produce straight from the farm.
The plan is for a midweek nightly market, possibly on a Wednesday.
‘‘Newcastle City Farmers’ Market will at some stage soon go twice a week,’’ co-owner Kevin Eade said.
The Newcastle Herald reported yesterday that the future of the historic fruit and vegetable wholesale markets at Sandgate were under threat.
Operators said the Newcastle Markets had lost about 80per cent of their turnover in the past 10 to 15 years, as the number of individual fruit shops had diminished.
The farmers’ market, though, is going from strength to strength – some believe because it provides a different type of shopping experience.
Mr Eade said the popularity of farmers’ markets reflected increasing demand for fresh, locally grown produce.
‘‘People are sick of the supermarkets,’’ Mr Eade said.
Some food corporations ‘‘bend the meaning of words’’, he added.
‘‘When we say free-range chicken, we mean they’re in a paddock running around.
‘‘But some corporations say ‘we open up the sides of the shed and whether the chicken goes out is up to it’.’’
The Herald reported recently that almost 20per cent of the Lower Hunter’s prime farming land was set to be lost.
Farmers’ market co-owner Elizabeth Armstrong said protecting such land was essential for the region’s food security.
‘‘On the fringes of urban areas, we have beautiful farmland,’’ Ms Armstrong said.
She said corridors should be put around prime agricultural land to protect farmers from nearby suburban areas.
‘‘We can’t turn it all into a sea of McMansions, unless people want to be eating imported produce and paying huge prices for it,’’ she said.
‘‘A national discussion is needed and a well thought-out plan for the future,’’ she said.
Mr Eade said global warming could cause some farmland to ‘‘not function in the future … we may need to produce extra food,’’ he said.
A United Nations report said the world’s population was expected to increase by 1billion people by 2025.
‘‘That’s a lot more hungry people,’’ Mr Eade said.
He and Ms Armstrong run farmers’ markets at Speers Point and The Entrance, as well as Newcastle.
EXPANDING: Newcastle City Farmers’ Market owners Elizabeth Armstrong and Kevin Eade, amidst a crop of spinach. Picture: Jonathan Carroll