Northland is New Zealands most northerly province and enjoys a sub tropical climate. It is well known as a food producing region. New Zealand has only two supermarket chains and as this duopoly exerted its buying power over northland growers during the last decade of the 20th century, many small and medium sized growers were forced out of business as they simply could not grow food profitably at the wholesale prices that were being offered. Two Northland growers, Robert Bradley and Murray Burns responded to the increasing pressure on wholesale prices by setting up the Whangerei Growers Market in 1998, New Zealands (and probably Australasias) first Farmers’ market.
The philosophy of the market is founded on the following principles:
- The market is to be a place where growers and final consumers meet and deal directly with one another
- The market must be run in such a way that relations between growers and final consumers are open, honest and display integrity of purpose of the market
- The market is for growers who grow produce in the northland area. It is to be a market that allows local people to buy local produce.
The market has now been running for 23 years, every Saturday morning from 6-10am, it is still run by Robert and Murray, who also sell their crops there every week. There are usually between 60 and 100 vendors selling a huge range of horticultural and farm produce that they have grown. Customers number well into the thousands each week; local families, hospitality & retail businesses and tourists. It also provides a significant economic contribution to the region as well as an opportunity for growers to sell directly to the public.