Growing the community

SAGE Farmers Market boots up to support farming families

The award-winning SAGE Farmers Market has been chosen as a pilot site for the national 2016 Boots for Change awareness campaign, organised by the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association (AFMA).

Boots — any kind — gumboots, RMs, work boots, riding boots, tap boots, cowboy boots, fashion boots — have been chosen as an iconic symbol to connect farmers, their families, farmers markets and rural and urban communities.

And they will be on many Moruya feet at the Boots for Change Market Day on Tuesday 27th October when farmers, stallholders and shoppers gather to support farming families in the South Coast region.

The Boots for Change campaign idea originated from the 2015 ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Summit, championed by local South Coast HSC student, Emma Mott from Bega.

“For us, the beauty of Australian produce is that it’s grown by our mums and dads, who care for our livestock and environment. We see the struggle and hardship that farming families go through to produce food for Australia’s dinner tables. We think more people need to appreciate this,” said Emma Mott.

“More and more people value local, seasonal fresh food and are willing to pay for it. So we want people to put boots on and head down to the Moruya market to show local producers that we care and want them to keep producing healthy farm fresh Australian food.”

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Moruya’s pilot Boots for Change Market Day is intended to inspire other communities with farmers markets wanting to join in vital community conversations — about local food, shopping and eating seasonally, supporting local farming families and encouraging regional youth to explore opportunities in agriculture.

“Moruya has a truly authentic farmers market that has been embraced by the local community, and is directed by a group of visionary advocates for local food systems. It is an ideal site to pilot various elements of the Boots For Change 2016 program that will roll out across Australia in April 2016,” commented AFMA spokesperson, Jane Adams.

Moruya district market shoppers are asked to shop in boots, and can expect plenty of boot and farm action. There will be displays and chalk art from the agriculture students from Moruya High School, a “lucky boot” prize and even hatching chickens.

“We have embraced the Boots For Change project because such a simple gesture as wearing boots can start conversations that create awareness and change attitudes. Even these pilot activities have opened new connections and relationships in our community, with Moruya High School and other groups,” explained SAGE representative, Stuart Whitelaw.

“The ‘S’ in SAGE is for ‘Sustainable’ but sustainability means more than good agricultural practices. It means that farms need to operate in a system that allows them to care for the farmers as well as the land. It means that young people should be able to see a life on their family farm as a viable, and yes, a desirable option. This only happens when our local food culture values the food that our region produces.”

“We want to inspire other Australian farmers markets to get involved in next year’s month-long national campaign (in April), by illustrating the impact of this engaging and powerful boot-led concept.”

“It is amazing how many members of this community have offered to be involved in the project. They are all passionate about supporting farming families and promoting agriculture as a pivotal driver of our local economy.”

The SAGE Farmers’ Market Boots for Change initiative will be held on Tuesday 27 October, from 3pm at Riverside Park, Moruya. Locally grown for local people.

Be there – boots and all!

Boots for Change is supported by an FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation grant.

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