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In conversation with Melissa Burge from Regional Farmers Market

In conversation with Melissa Burge, Regional Farmers Market

Monthly farmers’ markets return to the Convent in May with the Regional Farmers Market, one of the oldest and most established operators of farmers markets in Australia. We talked to Melissa Burge, one of the co-founders about why they are excited to bring their market to the Convent.

How did you get involved in managing farmers markets?

I have spent much of my life in the food industry and in markets. In addition to my family co-founding  Regional Farmer’s Market (RFM) with Claire Crocker’s family in 1999, I have had my own food business and was a stallholder at markets for many years before taking on my current role in 2016.  I’m quite obsessed with food (and wine!).

There are lots of farmers markets in Victoria, what makes Regional Farmers Market different?

RFM is one of the most established farmers market operators in Australia so we have learned a lot along the way about what makes a great market and the role markets can and should play within their community. We are also very focused on the promotion of our two core values: achieving food security through sustainable food production; and encouraging women into leadership roles across the food chain.

What have you learned about food and farming through these markets?

Farming and food production takes a lot of courage and resilience – there are just so many uncontrollable factors that impact the ‘final product’ – it’s a constant cycle of effort and engagement. Farmers markets provide a forum to showcase this effort and allows people to learn about the realities of the food production journey – that’s why markets are so important.

What excites you by bringing your market to the Abbotsford Convent precinct?

The Convent Precinct is just so unique and iconic – it’s an honour for us to be involved and to be able to bring even more interest and patronage to this important location via our market. The joy people have expressed about the market shows us how special a place it is for so many.

Throughout all the challenges that markets and small businesses have faced in recent years, what keeps you going?

We have an amazing stallholder community and our team at RFM is fantastic – we all really care about what we do, so during our most challenging times (especially during the pandemic), I just loved how we stayed positive and committed to this work that we all love. That certainly keeps me going – especially on those cold winter mornings!

Regional Farmers Market
Every second Saturday of the month
8am – 1pm
$2 (proceeds go to the Abbotsford Convent)