Fresh from the farm

THE bell is about to ring for the Kiama Farmers Market.

Next Wednesday's inaugural weekly market will feature about 30 stallholders from the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands.

On offer will be the likes of bread, milk, cheeses, fruit, vegetables, meat and poultry, tea, coffee, preserves and jams, cakes, and gelato.

Market manager Tricia Ashelford said there would be a good selection on hand.

"It's a really iconic location; you can't beat the backdrop," she said.

"It's known as a market area as well so it's not like we're actually reinventing the wheel in terms of location - people know that markets are held there. It's now just getting people into the rhythm that Wednesday is market day."

The market will also feature a hub to enjoy tea or coffee, food stalls for mid-shop snacks and a 'talking cookbook' in the form of Jamberoo food guru Elise Pascoe.

"So if you go an buy a heap of kale and you've never cooked kale before, but you've always wanted to try it, you'll be able to go to Elise and go, 'what can I do with this,' and get some hands on advice," Ms Ashelford said.

Stallholder and Buena Vista co-owner Fiona Weir Walmsley said the market would not start until the bell is rung by her father, Malcolm Weir, at 3pm.

"It's a very sweet, very old-fashioned tradition and it just means people hold off all sales until three o'clock - it works really well," she said.

Mrs Weir Walmsley said the market would give farmers one-to-one contact with customers.

"Obviously the produce is very fresh," she said. "It means we have the chance to pick the basil and turn it into pesto the day before the market [so] customers get it super fresh and regularly.

"The eggs are literally collected that morning, so it's quite powerful from a consumer's point of view - not only are they buying it direct but they are buying it straight out of the ground."

Mrs Weir Walmsley said small farms need direct sales opportunities.

"We all know that direct sales is the only way farms can really stay commercially viable if they're small," she said.

"It creates momentum; it means that growers can grow for this market and configure their whole week based on mid-week direct sales, which is unusual for farmers.

"I think it will create livelihoods for growers and makers that we haven't even met yet. If this is successful, growers and makers will appear because there's a channel for them to distribute it."

The Kiama Farmers Market will run from 3pm to 6pm every Wednesday at Black Beach.

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