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Market shuts up shop

12 Feb 2015

Market shuts up shop Image

The Southbank Farmers Market will not operate in 2015, with organisers optimistic of a return to Southbank next year.  

Having held a six-month permit on the site behind the Boyd Community Hub, the Melbourne Farmers Market (MFM) made the decision to quit after only five months.

The group made its decision after considering the residential development on the site, which is due to start this year.

The site’s developer Mackie and the City of Melbourne had assisted the organisation with its attempts to find alternative space for the market in Southbank.

However, MFM director Miranda Sharp said the costs associated with undertaking the many changes required simply didn’t make the market viable.

“We always knew it was a temporary arrangement,” she said. “We’ve been talking to Boyd for over two years and trying to work around the building development on site and in the end we just decided we should give it a whirl.”

“There were fantastic indications of it being a success but the development is still very much on the cards and the need to change the site made it too costly for us to continue to run for the time being.”

Having established itself at the Boyd Community Hub last year, the community’s response to the market’s first installment in August indicated it would be a huge success, with over 2000 attending.

However, a combination of unfortunate weather and timing saw numbers significantly decline at the market’s subsequent installments which, according to Ms Sharp, didn’t help its case to continue.

“We’re a not-for-profit organisation of a tiny nature trying to do some pretty ambitious things,” she said.

“Our primary focus is to ensure that Victorian agriculture has a spotlight in city communities but we need to be convinced of that in order to come back and it needs to be viable for all concerned.”

Ms Sharp said MFM would re-visit plans for the market and keep discussions open once the building works were near completion and the site, which will also include a new park, had settled.

She said that while the group was disappointed to be putting the market on hold it was still committed to working with the Southbank community and continued to address the issues raised in the 2012 Melbourne food policy framework.

“The stallholders were really blown away with the response that the community showed and we really regret that we couldn’t continue longer,” she said.  

“I think the decision to wait until there is certainty of the site and the area that would be available in future is the sensible one and certainly the only one we can afford for the time being.”

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