Keeping it local at the Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market

At the  Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market AGM in September I was honoured to be the guest speaker. Here is the speech I gave as a tribute to the market on behalf of Grey Lynn 2030.

I am fortunate to have many opportunities to talk about our community group Grey Lynn 2030. Very often when I mention our name “Grey Lynn 2030” I am met by a blank look and slight incomprehension (what do the numbers mean?).  But when I follow up by saying that Grey Lynn 2030 was the catalyst behind the Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market there is immediate understanding and appreciation – of course there is a farmers market in Grey Lynn! Of course it is connected to the community!

I and the rest of the Grey Lynn 2030 steering committee feel really proud to be associated with the market.  For me the foundation of the market is a perfect example of the way a transition town group can encourage local action and cooperation.

The story of the market’s beginnings needs to be captured for posterity before it slips away and takes on mythical qualities. Here is the version I hope is accurate.

As I’m sure you all know Grey Lynn 2030 is a about creating a sustainable community through practical action. We have monthly participatory meetings – essentially bring your ideas along to create the communities we want to live in and make them happen!

At one of the first meetings Vincent Dickie was present. He understood about the importance of local access to food, eating seasonally and re-skilling the community in urban food production. He put the call out to start a farmers market, formed a team of willing volunteers and within less than a year it was up and running!

As a self styled ambassador for the market I often hear complaints about the market. For example that it is too expensive and crowded (a myth perpetuated by those who came on the first day only or presume the market is a boutique one). The management committee take the brunt of negative comments rather than hearing the appreciation for the market that we know is out there too. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to reflect on and celebrate just how wonderful the market is, the fabulous people associated with it and what the market contributes to our community:

  • For me Sunday doesn’t feel right without a visit to the Market. It is not just about the weekly shop of fresh fruit and veg – it is the social time I have catching up with friends and neighbours. There is no such thing as popping into the market quickly!
  • I love keeping it local. We are lucky to have a market located centrally in our community. We can end our supermarket dependency right here in Grey Lynn.
  • I love the vibrancy of the market and how it acts as a community hub. Take the Tumeke Cycle Space (community bike workshop) now fixing bikes outside the market twice a month. And the story telling. And the busking
  • And of course the people. It is the people of the market that make it happen and keep it functioning so successfully. I thank you all for your hard work, vision and commitment. The management committee, Paul the previous market manager, Judith the administrator and now taking over as manager, the stall holders (they’ve had a hard winter and deserve our support), the Grey Lynn Community Centre, Len the caretaker, the members from the first day of the market and the visitors and shoppers – keep shopping!

I’d like to think that there will be a wide range of community initiatives that will put Grey Lynn 2030 on the map but I don’t think anything will eclipse the Farmers Market anytime soon.

Postscript: At the AGM I joined the management committee and was elected as Chair last night at our first meeting. I look forward to working with the new committee and building on the strong foundations put in place for a successful market by the original team.