ONE positive upshot from the pandemic sweeping the world has been the increased demand for locally grown fruit and vegetables.
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It is no secret that fresh produce provides us with antioxidants, which are helpful in boosting the immune system – something people have become more aware of in recent months.
A benefit of Covid-19, is that more people are thinking about their health and wellbeing and a key part of that is eating fresh food more regularly.
People have become more aware of local food and are seeking out where they can access their fresh food.
People are also growing more food in their backyards and sharing surpluses among friends and neighbours, yet through the experience of growing food, people realise they still need a variety of fresh food for good health.
This raised awareness globally is now being seen locally, with steadily increasing numbers of locals and visitors attending the Bellingen Farmers and Producers Market to catch their weekly fresh food fix.
The market is a small food-only market and has been deemed an essential service by the Australian Federal Government since the outbreak of coronavirus.
As the market is held outdoors, it is considered a safer environment.
“We have physical distancing measures in place, hand sanitisers at market stalls and handwashing facilities at the entrance of the market as well as face masks for sale,” Bellingen Farmers and Producers Market operator Louise Hensby said.
“Farmers markets are a wonderful safe, outdoor place where the community can meet and support our local farmers by buying directly from them.”
The market is a farmers market founded on the principles set out by the Australian Farmers Markets Association, to provide local communities with access to local only, affordable, high-quality nutritious food.
There are around 15 regular stall holders selling a wide variety of local fresh produce including fruits and vegetables, microgreens, jams and chutneys, meat and vegetable jerkys, organic sourdough bread, hot and cold drinks,
handmade pasta and pasta sauce, dips, delicious cakes, desserts and snacks, Australian teas, pasture-raised meats, seafood and herbs.
Customers can also purchase hot meals.
“The market is all about supporting the local and regional food system”, Louise explained.
“We are providing a place for young farmers to sell their produce each week, which in turns enables them to earn a steady and reliable source of income.
“Being a farmer and food producer is challenging work at the best of times, and getting more difficult in the climate we live in today.”
Louise is also working collaboratively with other passionate people in the Mid North Coast region on projects to strengthen and secure clean food for the local community in the future.
The Bellingen Farmers and Producers Market operates every Wednesday afternoon from 2.30pm to 5.30pm at Bellingen Park, Church Street, next to the tennis courts.