Thursday 16 April 2009

Farm food a first for FNQ

Our first dedicated local food outlet and farmers market will be launched this Saturday.

Come along to the Pier as the Network for Sustainable and Diversified Agriculture offer you the opportunity to meet local farmers, fishermen (isn't it fisherpeople these days?), and food producers.
The Cairns Farmgate Market will be an ongoing community event, dedicated to food grown and processed in Far North Queensland.
"We hope this event will promote consumer consciousness about the social, environmental, nutritional and community benefits of supporting local food networks, and provide an outlet for discerning Cairns customers who seek to support fresh local produce," says Sarah Rizvi, NSDA secretary.
Numerous venues around Cairns were considered for the new market, however, in the end, The Pier at the Marina offered the best site.
Produce bought at the market is grown or manufactured in our region, from Cardwell to Cooktown to Chillagoe. All products are labelled as to who they were produced by, how they were produced (organic, freshcare-approved) where they were grown / manufactured, when they were harvested and distance travelled to the market (‘food kilometres’) to show efficiency.


KitchenSlut said...

I was also told recently that coincident with this the local Tropical Writers group of Far North Queensland will be doing a book launch of their most recent self published anthology 'Raining on the Sun' down at the Apostrophe bookshop in The Pier.

Looking forward to sussing out this new marketand to see how it goes :)

CBD Warrior said...


Is that bookstore still open?

Opening a bookstore at the Pier was a gigantic mistake, as anyone could see from the empty shop and the pissed off look on the owner's face.

I remember when the Pier was a happening, vibrant, and interesting place. It's now a ghost town, having been ruined by the Sydney owners who decided they could make more money converting the upper level to hotel rooms and "transient" offices. There was a proposal for a Hard Rock Cafe that they knocked back.

What a bunch of morons.

Sarah Rizvi said...

The inaugural Farmgate Market will be launched this Saturday morning, at the Pier, Marina. Doors will be open from 7.30am-2pm.

At 10am, Jeanette Singleton, Traditional Owner of Cairns, will Welcome to country, followed by a Welcome to the city from Mayor Val Schier and a welcome to the market from the Member for Barron River, Steve Wettenhall.

This will be followed by a range of entertainers and informative presentations including a magical mystery tour, a petting zoo, clowns and comedians.

Activities will start at 10 am.

The Raconteurs will then entertain the crowds with their locally grown blend of jazz and funk fusion.

Presentations will include Steve Ryan- Cairns environmentalist, speaking about Food Miles, followed by Emma Coleman and Melanie Enzelakis from the Queensland Health 2&5 campaign speaking about Nutrition in the Community, and finally well known USA biodynamics expert Hugh Lovel speaking about Biodynamics Practice.

And of course there will be over 30stalls of meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables, wine, cheese, plants and more; all grown or produced right here at our doorstep in the Tropical North.

The Farmgate market will operate thereafter on a weekly basis from the Pier at the Marina.

NSDA would like to thank Blueprint for the Bush, the Pier at the Marina, the Gambling Trust benefit fund and the community for supporting this event.

For more information, visit the Farmgate website or contact Imeea Svanosio at

Pier Reporter said...

I've just returned from the "Farmgate Market".

What a waste of time! Another patron I overheard summed it up best - "what's the point of coming here if I just have to go to Rusty's to get what I need"?

There were really only TWO vendors of produce. Lots of plants for sale, so-called organic frozen snags, and other items. But virtually no produce to speak of.

And with the parking lot below the Pier (always known to be much too small) jammed at 9:30, cars were just circling the lagoon area endlessly, with many giving up and going to Rusty's.

The reality is that a "farmgate market" that limits itself to produce grown in our region alone will never have an adequate variety of produce people want to purchase. And who wants to fight two CBD locations for parking???

Local politicians were there however to "take credit" for other people's idea - Steve Whatthehell had staked out a price spot by the entrance and was frowning at everyone he could find.

I agree with CBD Warrior - the Pier should be used as a dining and entertainment precinct. This kind of use is just an annoyance to everyone concerned.

Like most new uses at the Pier, I give it six months (only because it takes that long for people to admit they are wrong).

I Love Markets said...

I agree with the commenter above. Having this farmer's market at the Pier is completely misguided. I know a shopkeeper at the Pier, and they have been struggling since new management decided to gut the place and take it in "a new direction". The new direction has been to scare all the customers away. The farmers market idea is a desperation move - word is the owners of the Pier are barely hanging on like many property owners. My grade on this farmer's market? D-

All Cockups Trace Back to Kevin Byrne said...

I was there Saturday as well. Curious and hopeful. Should have known it would be a typical Cairns cockup. Who in their right mind approved The Pier Marketplace with so little parking, anyway? Oh that's right, Kevin Byrne. . .his first time thru as Mayor, screwing our CBD.

I've heard Cairns Central is going to start charging for parking there, in order to drive the dayparkers out of their lot. Good on 'em. This should reveal how much short of parking the CBD has become all these years.

Anonymous said...
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Janine Aitken said...

I started my Saturday with breakfast at the Lilypad (opposite Rusty’s on Grafton) all the talk around the café was the lack of parking and frustration at the new pier markets. I decided it was still worth a look but decided to walk over rather than battle the car park and yes when I got there it was clear parking was a major issue. But I don’t think it should be completely written off just yet. I have to say I have never seen that many people at the Pier, and people were going into the shops as well not just wandering around the markets. There were only a few fruit vendors I counted 5, but there were some great home made sauces, pastas, organic meats, cheeses, coffee’s, chocolates and the best Mungalli Creek display i have seen in quite sometime (i didn’t even know they still made the natural yogurt). Yes I still went to Rustys for my veg and most of my fruit (not ideal for a farmers market) The parking is a major issue, bring your freezer bags and eskys as cold produce is a clear winner here.

Stop the Sillyness said...

I guess "Imeea Farmgate Coordinator" can be counted on to be a cheerleader, even when it's clear that a market at the Pier was ill-conceived and cannot be workable longterm. I don't understand why "helping the environment and local farmers" wasn't do-able at Rusty's. Especially when so many vendors now had to take two stalls - one at Rusty's and one at the Pier.

The essential idea about "eating local" is frankly absurd. First we're told to "eat Australian", then "eat Queensland", now "eat North Queensland". I reject all these concepts - I live in Edge Hill, and I'm only going to support Edge Hill farmers. (sarcasm off). All of this is divisive and unrealistic.

Soon we won't be able to buy Australian cars (the Oz car manufacturing is clearly now going to come to an end). Does that mean we shouldn't buy cars anymore? The tilt train was manufactured in Australia, at higher cost than an import. It's a piece of dangerous junk. Is it worth killing some Australians to ensure we've "bought local"?

And "certified organic"? What the hell is that? There is no authoritative body "certifying" organic anything, and not even any meaning to this term. Are the animals "free range"? Have they been inoculated against disease? Was the feed "free range"? And is it "carbon neutral", too? I agree with the comment above, how can something so patently unhealthy as ground-up animal entrails be "certified organic"? All the political correctness is giving me a headache - let me find my "free range" aspirin.

Someone get some common sense, put all this stuff at Rusty's where it belongs, and stop this silliness at the Pier.

Imeea - Farmgate Coordinator said...

I just wanted to say Pier Reporter is wrong. There was only 4 stalls selling pot plants and there was over 10 stalls = 18 tables of in season produce.

They did however mostly sell out well before lunch time so if you came after 9am the stock was getting pretty low. And the sausages are certified organic, which took the producer 6 years of sustainable farm management to achieve. Also it is about seasonality, if you want apples or oranges all year round then you are buying imports sometimes, if you want to support such an enviroment and local ecomony damager like imported fruit & vege then your not thinking about the future generations. Our market is about eating with the seasons and helping the enviroment and local farmers.

Also all markets have parking troubles e.g. last time I went to Yungaburra I had to park 4 blocks away.

And the market is owned and run by the not for profit org - Network for Sustainable and Diversified Agriculture and we had funding from the Blueprint for the Bush fund to set it up. The Pier was the only location that offered us a reasonably priced location, as council has over 20 displaced sporting clubs and could not give us a park.

I agree about the parking, any where you want to go in the CBD can be a drama, I drove around Central for 15 minutes last week to find a park.

We have alot more fruit and vege coming in to season next month and I already have an extra 10 stalls booked for this week, so the market is just going to get bigger and better ;)

Clifton Ratbags Rule! said...

One look at the market flyer, and you can see why this market was organised - - IT'S PEOPLE SPENDING GOVERNMENT MONEY (also known as "the public's tax money)!

Money from "The Gambling Community Benefit Fund". Who with our state government decided to dole out our tax money to people starting a market we don't need?

The flyer says "meet local farmers, fishermen, and food producers". I didn't see any farmers or fishermen - I saw the same asian vendors I see at Rusty's.

Perhaps someone can answer the question - how much of our money has been given out, and to whom? And when does this gravy train of public money end? That will tell us when this ill-conceived experiment will mercifully come to an end.

Imeea - Farmgate Coordinator said...

Actually there is a body that certifies "Organics" the BFA.
It takes six years to obtain and you have to prove both with soil and product samples (regular) that you are chemical free.

Maybe you havn't heard what chemicals do to the enviroment and that organic is chemical free.

And on that point free range is certified as well. If you cared about amimals you would only by freerange eggs.

Inregards to Rusty's, that was the first place we approached for a location, they didn't want to make room for us on a Saturday. And some of the farmers at our market tried as well with the same result.

And a final note, the farmgate market is for farmers, not wholsalers. Different concept them other markets and hopefully people who care about thier local farmers, the enviroment and the local economy will support our market.

CBD Warrior said...

Hey Ratbag!

Thanks for explaining the use of Qld Government money for this thing. That explains why all the labor pollies were hanging around.

Guess this is part of Anna Bligh's promise to create 100,000 jobs.

Noj Nedlaw said...

Don’t make too much out of the Queensland Government support. Look at the brochure carefully – the funding is from the Community Benefits Fund. Monies for this fund come from taxes on Golden Casket lotteries, wagering, keno and gaming machines. And so the money is not really from the general public, but rather than from the gambling public. Would you rather the Casinos kept the lot? This venture is just one of many who received funding.

Check out this link to see the diverse range of organisations supported

Reef CBF GrantsOh and I think that you will find that these monies were part of the May 2008 funding round – so Ratbag and Warrior, the comment about Anna and her jobs quota is rather spurious.

The market wog, Alessia said...

I though that, as a start, it was outstanding!

But the most important point is if FNQ can provide for its self. Are we suistanable? Can we look after our self? I'd say not yet. However, a market like the Farmgate will stimulate business opportunities that will make FNQ a region that can stand alone!

I love fresh food. It is fantastic to know the face of the person that makes the bread I eat everyday! And if you want to have your usual salad you can still go shopping at Rusty. While if you want to vary your diet and eat seasonally you have the option to shop at the Farmgate.

And remember, when the highway is flooded, you can try Rusty but you can be more certain to fill your basket at the Farmgate!

Bloke from Mena said...

I agree with Alessia the market wog. What a great start for the Farmgate Market, reports of over two thousand people attending is testament to that. Fantastic for the local economy and for local farmers and food producers, as well as for those discerning people who enjoy fresh, in season produce and products.

Unfortunately it seems that some Cairns grumpy bums (Ratbag, Silliness and CBD Wa...r) don't like the idea of people having a go and trying something different and innovative. They certainly don't understand how local economies work. Their choices are always easy, if its two cents cheaper or easier they will buy the Philippine banana or the Californian orange, never thinking of the communities or economies they live in.

The rest of us are excited about the potential for growth of the Farmgate market. Maybe Farmgate Mareeba or Farmgate Innisfail down the track? Well done Imeea and the NSDA!

As Kev Carmody said "from little things big things grow"!

Unknown said...

Nola Craig, says...

It’s interesting isn’t it how people can only see a glass half empty. The Farmgate Markets were an overwhelming success. So much so that the crowds were much more than anticipated which of course caused a slight mayhem in the carparks? But hey! If that many went to any other market in the city, where would that many cars park?

Stall holders were also caught out with the popularity and encountered the fortuitous predicament of selling out before time. I am sure they will be ready next week.

As for The Pier,the shop and restaurant owners, I am sure they were delight at the influx of potential customers to their doors.

The produce was a great display of quality (not seconds) from the region. ..and yes they were the actual farmers and producers.

As Imeea mentioned, Rusty’s was first consulted but could not accommodate the Farmgate sector. However I believe that the two markets will complement each other and will attract both similar and different customers.

I know a lot of work has gone into the organisation of this Market over the past year by the NSDA, and remarkably carried out by Imeea Svanosio with strong support from Sarah Rizvi. The Blueprint for the Bush program (to assist agriculture) does not hand out funds easily. They obviously scrutinised the application before approval was given and ongoing milestone reports have made it accountable.

The success of the Farmgate Market will rely on continual support by the producers and the customers, and if last Saturday is any indication, they are off to a good start.

So perhaps a more positive attitude to supporting local produce and the community should be considered. With a half filled glass, there is plenty more room for more produce in the coming weeks.

CBD Warrior said...

Funny how the market organisers are now running to "spin" what is obviously a disaster in the making with this market. And their defence of the Pier as an appropriate site even after the unsolvable problems that exist show they are blockheads that are content to doom the project to failure. I personally have always found locally produced farm products at Rusty's, so I'm unclear as to why a "special" market needed to be organised in the first place. I do know that there are people around town that spend their time trying to figure out ways to get government grants for spurious projects. I know of a musician that got big money to start an "orchestra" - she made a ton of money from the grant, the orchestra gave two lame concerts, and disappeared.

If these organisers are serious they'll accept the obvious and use their "big success" (haha) last week to leverage another location more appropriate. If they continue to hold this thing at the Pier, customers will dwindle to a trickle.

Oh, and so-called organic producers are required to post their organic certification. I saw lots of claims to "organic" products, but no certificates from the BFA or any other body. The BFA requires organisers to ensure their vendors comply. If the claims of "organic" suppliers turn out to be furphys, Fair Trading will mercifully close the whole shebang down.

My Funny Valentine said...

Nola sez that "no market in the city has enough parking". Not true. Rusty's has plenty of parking, sometimes you've just got to walk a little bit. The Pier is isolated from the rest of the CBD, and you've got to walk much too far to park. After all, this is just shopping, it isn't supposed to be my weekly exercise regimen.

All of the so-called local products could be displayed in one double-size stall at Rusty's, and accomplish the same goals for the producers. Claiming that the big crowds represented strong demand for these products is overreaching. People turn up in this town for anything new - ONCE. Crowds this week will be half of last week, and so on until the thing is mercifully dead.

KitchenSlut said...

After avoiding the opening day crowds in favour of a coffee down at Cafe Lumiere I turned up for a more relaxed browse last Saturday. Maybe Anzac Day wasn’t a good day to make a judgement either but there was still a good turnout and unlike many more cynical commentators at Cairnsblog, I don’t see why this concept can’t be successful in this location, although there may need to be some evolution as it develops and matures.

Those commentators who seemed to think they may be able to go and do their fruit and vege shopping like at Rusty’s were misguided to begin with. If you thought that’s what it was going to be no wonder you were disappointed. It won’t be replacing my regular weekly jaunt to Rusty’s but as a food slut this is an addition. I walked away with a few kaffir limes, some hot chillis, and a bottle of sluttishly decadent rainforest lemon jus.

I have had the same response from vendors, with Gil down at Rusty’s Coffeeworks telling me that his sales hadn’t been affected by the opening, and they were also very pleased with the response for Coffeeworks at The Pier. Similarly Rusty’s vendors such as Jervois, Gallo, Mungalli, Spice Girls and both the local pasta makers seem content to support both venues. I found some products by these people I hadn’t seen before and some interesting new local producers such as Happy Beef, Rainforest Bounty and Tarzali Smokehouse.

The emphasis at this location needs to be more on high quality gourmet lines of regional best produce with an attraction of tourists as much as locals. We are more blessed than we realise and this is a sector that has been badly done and neglected here considering the global growth of food tourism. The local food tours are just cheap and shabby in my view and were I a visiting foodslut I would be disappointed in what we offer of our bounty and potential compared to other regions of Australia and the world.

My sense was that these were not necessarily the same people down at The Pier that you may run into down at Rusty’s, and the ambience was very different. There has been an obvious huge spin-off for the restaurant’s down at The Pier. Unlike many Cairnsblog cynics I’m not prepared to bury this so early and there is plenty of scope for evolution and ideas to let this grow into something positive if the organisers are willing to experiment . There were many ideas prompted in what passes for my mind but i'm not giving them away yet .....