Farmers market on hold to stop spread

Kate Vercoe
Kate Vercoe
The Otago Farmers Market will close for the next four weeks, resulting in a big financial hit for some growers and producers, as the fight against Covid-19 continues.

"This is an awful situation that is new and overwhelming to most of us," market general manager Kate Vercoe said in an email to market food producers and stall-holders.

Food suppliers spoken to said they were hopeful of minimising any food waste and resuming operations after the market closure.

John Preedy, who owns Ettrick Gardens with his wife, Heather, said the loss of the important market outlet for four weeks would result in a "fairly big financial hit" for him and his wife, and for other growers and producers who had stalls there.

However, he supported the move and said little food waste would result.

"I’m more than happy — I appreciate that in the long run, it’s [the closure] the right thing for the health of everyone and for the health of the public of Dunedin," he said.

From their 445ha property near Clydevale in South Otago, Tony and Michelle Pringle milk 450 cows and farm 6500 laying hens, and supply eggs to the farmers market.

"The impact will be huge for smaller operators that supply the market," Mrs Pringle said.

The couple would be thinking hard about alternatives in the short term, but any food waste would be minimised, and they were seeking positive solutions.

"It’s all right, we’re farmers. We’ve been farming for 20 years," she said.

Ms Vercoe said the Otago Farmers Market Trust, which runs the market, had thought hard about the market’s future, and after a "great deal of consideration, consultation and research" had decided to suspend trading for the time being.

Ms Vercoe said about 20 of the usual about 70 growers and producers would have been available next Saturday, and right up to Wednesday morning the trust had been "looking at ways we could continue to have the market and keep everyone safe".

However, the "fast moving situation" had changed further with the news later in the day from the Ministry for Primary Industries that small food outlets, such as fruit and vegetable outlets and butcheries, would not be allowed to operate, she said.

Add a Comment

Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter - yours. For more than 150 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is now more important than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by subscribing to our print or digital editions, or by making a donation.

Become a Supporter