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Green Spaces for Farmers' Markets

posted Dec 28, 2010, 7:54 PM by Chris Fortune
The Marlborough Farmers' Market has been talking with the Marlborough District Council about suggestions for a green area where markets might be held in the centre of town, as part of the town's redevelopment project, says market chairman Chris Fortune.

Mr Fortune was responding to an article in Tuesday's Express that reported the Chamber of Commerce had thrown around the idea of encouraging a unified market in the middle of Blenheim to help attract customers for nearby retailers.

He said the market committee was among groups involved in discussions about proposed revitalisation of Blenheim's town centre, which Urbanism Plus is overseeing for the council.

One idea was to develop a green area where markets could be held, and the farmers' market was involved as one of the groups that might use the area, he said. If the area was developed in town, the Sunday market would continue at the A and P Showgrounds as it was too big to bring to town, but afternoon versions could be held on the new space, he added.

At a meeting among business personnel to discuss ideas for attracting more people to the retail area, Brian Dawson, Chamber of Commerce general manager, said he would talk with the Nelson chamber about whether retailers benefited from the town's big Saturday morning market.

Some of the business people felt that markets in Blenheim were too fragmented and too far from town to tempt market-goers to visit retailers afterwards.

Mr Fortune said the Marlborough Farmers' Market committee would be happy to talk with the central business association and the chamber about ways to bring more people into town.

However, the farmers' market committee would not be keen to be part of a combined market. Ten years after it was established in Blenheim, the farmers' market had established a brand and a loyal consumer base, in the same way a business might strive to, he said.

But more importantly for the people who buy into the market's philosophy, it had provided a place for local producers to sell their goods, he said.

The success of the Nelson Saturday market's model could be difficult to replicate in Blenheim, he said.

That market had been operating for more than 20 years in a region with a population of more than 80,000 people and a diverse range of horticultural production in its hinterland, he said. A farmers' market also runs in Nelson each Wednesday in the Fashion Island shopping area in the central city. The two markets worked well in conjunction with each other, each providing a service for different producer and customer needs, Mr Fortune said.

As well as Sunday morning markets at the A and P Showgrounds in Blenheim from November to June, the Marlborough Farmers' Market operates in Market Place in Blenheim for a time during summer and winter.

The Summer Twilight Farmers' Market will be held in Market Place from 2pm to 5pm on Thursdays from January 6 as a secondary outlet for local food producers to sell directly to the consumer.

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