Markets 10th year shows business attracts business
THE first Byron Bay Farmers' Market in December 2002 saw the stallholders almost outnumber the customers.
Fast-forward 10 years and it's a cultural and social institution drawing 3000 to 4000 customers every Thursday; an event where the people watching are almost as diverse and interesting as the local organic produce.
Today the markets turned on a special morning of celebrations to mark the milestone with a cake cutting, cooking demonstrations, kids activities, and an appearance from Year of the Farmer ambassador and Channel Nine TV personality Natalie Gruzlewski.
The sellers also launched their own magazine jammed with recipes showcasing their produce.
It was a time for Bob and Liz Gray to reminisce as the Goonengerry farmers who grow flowers, potatoes, garlic and ginger on their 27ha property were there on day one.
The couple say they never doubted that the markets would catch on despite the rocky start.
"It took two years to get really established. But now we've got people coming from Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Ballina," Liz said.
The markets were opposed by many bricks and mortar retailers who felt they would suffer.
"Now I think they agree it brings more people into town and they get the flow on effect," Liz said.
Without the markets Bob and Liz reckon they would have had to give up farming years ago, but it's also a social occasion for them.
"It's our day out. The rest of the time we work," Bob said.
Nashua avocado grower and market management committee president Kaye Shadbolt said 10 years was a great achievement.
"The markets have become a great meeting place where people can have a cup of coffee, something to eat, listen to buskers and meet the farmers," Kaye said.