Not long ago, a prominent local farmer told me that Byron Bay hipsters were behind our local farmers market and that this monthly event was disrupting the work of real farmers like him. If I hadn’t had my KeepCup lid on I’d have spilt almond milk double-half-caf-half-decaf cappuccino on my cardigan when I heard that one!
As a cafe owner, I get to spend my day chatting to people and I’m usually pretty switched on to local gossip - so, how did I miss the hipster influx this farmer referred to? Honestly, I haven’t seen a good handlebar mustache or man bun in a while, but if support for a local farmers market makes Wangaratta a hipster haunt, that’s lit.
Back to my farmer friend. His concern was that small-scale farmers selling their produce at local markets was disrupting the status quo. According to him, these markets disrupt the standard farm-to-market supply chain, and he reckons there’s not enough money in farming for smaller local producers to make any real cash at farmers markets anyway. I say, be realistic - farmers markets are more likely to replace the backyard veggie patch than impact our farming industry as a whole, and if people want to sell and buy their produce at a local market, so be it.
More than a place for buying fresh food, farmers markets are a way of people connecting, and they’re a vital link between rural and urban communities and for promoting sustainable food choices. They’re no competition to traditional agriculture and don’t deserve any backlash from farmers whose blood, sweat and tears have been the backbone of our rural and regional communities for many years.
Wait till word spreads about our plan for an urban farm! When that kicks off we’ll be teaching people in our community how to grow their own fresh food, and in doing so we might even make agriculture cool enough to encourage more local people to consider it their next career.
Last week I was telling some customers about the Byron Bay hipster comment. They laughed, and then laughed some more. Why so funny? Someone whipped out a phone and we Googled together – ‘hipster: a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream.’ Farmers markets might be cool but they’re pretty mainstream now, so I doubt Wangaratta having one moves us any closer to Byron Bay on The Hipster Index.
I do thank my farmer friend for his comment. He’s given me plenty to appreciate when I cycle down to the next market at Apex Park for a good latte, great conversation and to stuff my Boomerang Bag with fresh, organic produce.