Food, community, and wellbeing: An exploration of Harvest Launceston farmers’ market (industry report)
This industry report, by Maria Belen Yanotti and Laura Ripoll Gonzalez, discusses findings from research into the role of food and community building within local farmers’ markets. Focusing on a farmers’ market in Tasmania, Australia, it demonstrates the importance of markets in fostering social connections, beyond shopping. A strong link between food and community building was observed, with participants willing to spend more on food in return for social connections.
This industry report, written by Maria Belen Yanotti and Laura Ripoll Gonzalez, discusses findings from 2019 research into the role of food and community building within local farmers’ markets. Focusing on the Harvest Launceston Farmers’ Market in Tasmania (Australia), it reveals the importance of markets in fostering social connections and community wellbeing, moving beyond a narrow focus on shopping. As the authors explain, markets can be “...a space for community to meet and interact around food purchase and consumption and learn from each other... a space for leisure and socialising...” (p.5). They further suggest that farmers’ markets have become even more important due to the Covid-19 pandemic, whereby the crisis has “...emphasised the potential consequences that a lack of access to fresh, quality, and organic food has on people’s health and wellbeing”, and "the importance of community interaction and support” (p.5), which markets can foster, has been further revealed. The report, therefore, is useful in outlining and justifying the potential benefits of leveraging and enhancing (farmers’) markets to create social value and generate better wellbeing for communities.
Based on in-market surveys with attendees and market traders, the following key findings are reported.
Some key findings
- Farmers’ markets are not just for shopping – their ability to promote sociality is a key driver for the community.
- More than 50% of respondents willing to pay up to a 20% surcharge for their groceries and food in return for community connection.
- Attendees were willing to spend more on food and groceries to support local farmers, businesses and sustainability.
- The average expenditure of market-goers on a Saturday was $60, with half of the sample spending $50.
- Businesses trade at farmers’ markets to access new demographics (42%), test products (23%), gain support from other traders (32%), and to experience community interactions (55%).
- The most common words used to describe the farmers’ market studied were: friendly, engaging, inclusive, community, and vibe.
- The majority of participants viewed the market positively, with 100% expressing negative emotions were the market to close.
- There were some challenges observed around those from lower socio-economic groups accessing the fresh food on offer due to higher prices.
For more on this project, please see this related High Streets Task Force resource.