4 February 2019
The Abbotsford Convent Foundation is pleased to announce that Melbourne Farmers Markets (MFM) has been appointed to deliver a regular food market at the Convent, with their first market to be held on 23 February 2019.
The evolution of the Convent is guided by four main strategic priorities – activation, place, viability and governance. These priorities are congruent with the Abbotsford Convent Foundation (ACF)’s vision for the precinct as a leading centre for arts, culture and learning, which is renowned for stimulating engagement and cultural exchange. The Convent is entering an important phase of its development; as major restoration works in the eastern side of the precinct near completion, there are increasing opportunities to activate the entire precinct and develop new experiences for diverse audiences. As the existing regular market contract was nearing its completion date, it was timely for the ACF to consider ways to improve our markets in collaboration with our creative tenants, partners and broader community.
In September 2018, the ACF sought proposals from accredited market individuals or organisations who work in or are aligned to arts, culture and/or learning, to become a part of the Abbotsford Convent community. The Regular Food Market Proposal opened to applications on 1 September 2018 and closed on 1 October 2018. A committee consisting of the ACF executive team, the ACF Venues Manager and an external food consultant from Future Foods assessed the proposals, with reference to selection criteria based on the ACF strategic priorities. As a result of this evaluation process, Melbourne Farmers Markets (MFM) has been appointed to deliver a regular food market at the Convent from 23 February 2019.
In the coming year, MFM aims to strengthen the connection between producers, the Convent tenant community, market visitors and, our neighbours, the Collingwood Children’s Farm. This includes expanding the market to showcase tenant community products and services, and working collaboratively with their farmers’ market circuit across Melbourne. We have a shared goal to attract new audiences through diverse programming, from producer talks and guided market tours, to educational workshops and cooking demonstrations.
The Founder and Director of MFM, Miranda Sharp, has been an active member of the Abbotsford Convent community since the 1990s. She established the nearby Collingwood Children’s Farm (CCF) Farmers Market in 2002 and gifted the entity to the CCF Committee of Management in 2004. She was Vice President of Slow Food Victoria from 2003 – 2005 and President of the Victorian Farmers’ Market Association 2004 – 2009.
MFM manages markets in Alphington, Carlton, Coburg, Collingwood, Gasworks Arts Park and Melbourne University. While the new regular food market at the Convent will have its own unique identity and character, being part of this network brings significant cross-promotion and programming opportunities which will help the market grow and thrive into the future. Through their recent work on collective impact project ‘Melbourne Food Hub,’ MFM have a demonstrated track record in collaboration. This enterprise illustrates their experience in workshops, pop-up events, partnered produce distribution, sustainable catering and food business incubation activities. The ACF are excited to work with MFM to establish a local produce outlet and grocer at the Convent, to complement the weekday food offerings of our popular on-site eateries. We look forward to collaborating with new friends and old to provide fresh food experiences at the Convent.
The monthly farmer’s market established by Slow Food Melbourne has been a fixture in the Convent calendar for more than a decade, enjoyed by an estimated 1,500 marketgoers each month. The Slow Food Melbourne team were based in the Providence and Convent buildings for several years, and organised popular food festivals at the Convent in 2004 and 2005. The ACF especially wish to acknowledge the dedication of long-term Slow Food Melbourne President and market manager Alison Peake, who has been a valued member of our community since its earliest days. We sincerely appreciate the energy and commitment of the Slow Food Melbourne Committee over so many years, as well as the myriad of growers, producers and stallholders, large and small, who continue to share their enthusiasm for fresh food with our community each month.