Skip to main content

What we do

Farmers, community advocates and shoppers seeking fresh, seasonal produce beyond the main street worked together from 2002 to develop the Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association. The not-for-profit organisation was incorporated in 2004.

The VFMA’s network today includes more than 30 accredited markets operating weekly, fortnightly or monthly in city and rural communities across Victoria.

Our vision

We develop, support and lead an inclusive network of accredited farmers, makers and farmers’ markets contributing to thriving, sustainable communities and our food security.

Our purpose

We accredit farmers, makers and markets so shoppers can be sure the foods and products they buy are made by the stallholders in our markets. In this way, shoppers learn more about where their food comes from and, when they buy, help to strengthen farm and local communities.

Our core challenge

We want to help young people find paths to farming and markets for their produce, and support our farmer, maker and market members with effective training, marketing and communication tools to build capacity and engage in their communities for the greater good.

Answering change

We’re open, responsive, accountable and transparent in all our member, market and community relationships. We’re working hard to equip our farmers, makers and markets with tools and advice to respond to climate change, build inclusion, and improve digital access.

How we deliver

We build, support and communicate the integrity and value of our accredited farmers, makers and markets through advocacy in communities, with government, through information media and collaboration with farm and business organisations. We care for our reputation and integrity so our views can be voiced and heard in the ‘public square’.

Our network

The Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association is a member of the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association and World Farmers’ Markets Coalition. We also collaborate with the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, Sustain Australia, Victorian Farmers’ Federation, Farmers for Climate Action, Farmer Incubator, Farmraiser, Slow Food, Sustainable Table, University of Melbourne School of Agriculture Food and Ecosystem Sciences and Burnley Campus (Urban Horticulture), and VicHealth.

Leadership

President

Charith Senanayake has led conservation, environmental rescue, farming and natural ecosystem resilience projects in Australia, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste for more than 20 years. He’s co-founder of Island Home, a VFMA-accredited specialty maker of zero-waste meals created from VFMA-accredited, organic and sustainable-practice farmers’ produce. This zero-plastic business relies on ecosystem remediation projects to offset its energy use. Charith believes farmers preserving and reintroducing rare or endangered foods to market are true entrepreneurs, and wants to draw on work with Sri Lanka’s Forest Garden Inspectorate and Certification service and The Netherlands’ Fair Flowers certification system to improve market recognition for them. He believes collaboration with industry, business and government can build social capital and resources so the VFMA becomes more sustainable, develops member capacity, supports producers facing natural emergencies, and communicates its role in strengthening food security.

Vice President

Mark Jankelson has worked extensively in people management with large corporations for more than 40 years. He’s passionate about mentoring and coaching emerging leaders and helping not-for-profit organisations achieve scale in the social sector, in which he chairs the Melbourne office of international philanthropic organisation Social Venture Partners. He also brings to the VFMA experience as an adviser to boards and senior company executives. Mark and Hilary Jankelson produce walnuts and make walnut oil and other products for their Husk & Harvest brand on their Boonderoo farm near Heathcote in central Victoria.

Public Officer

Deanne Free and husband Kelvin Free operate organic-certified Alkira Organics at Lake Boga, between Swan Hill and Kerang, not far from the Murray River in northern Victoria. They nurture their farm’s rich organic soils to take advantage of a long, warm-temperate local climate to produce stone fruit, apples, rockmelon, zucchini, tomato, pumpkin, kale, broccoli and cauliflower in season.

Treasurer

Tim Walsh has been a farmers’ market advocate since 2003 and today manages St Kilda’s Veg Out, Brighton and Elwood VFMA-accredited farmers’ markets in Melbourne. He directs banking services firm PB Capital Australia and has worked in treasury and banking for Australian and international banks for almost four decades. Tim and his wife Sabine farm near Lyonville in the Macedon Ranges growing their own cattle, sheep and vegetables. In the community, he’s treasurer of Veg Out Community Gardens in St Kilda, and was formerly treasurer and president of Albert Park College school council.

Member at large

Allen Snaith and his wife Lizette, passionate about farming and food, moved outside the square when they became frustrated from their Clonbinane farm with traditional saleyard cattle marketing. They began selling their beef direct to neighbours and in Melbourne, and the strong response led to their Warialda Belted Galloways Beef brand. From 2005, the pair booked stalls at VFMA-accredited markets and later became accredited producers. The following year they took part in Slow Food’s Terra Madre food communities world meeting in Turin, Italy, and from this experience developed a smallgoods range. Nose-to-tail and paddock-to-plate principles and curing to maximise carcass use aligned perfectly with the Snaiths’ goals for their grass-fed, slower-maturing, rare breed belted galloways. Shoppers responded. Allen believes customers are more discerning because of VFMA farmers’ markets in which only producers participate, and producers have likewise learned from them, keeping up to date with changes in shopper taste and choice.

Secretary

Sylvia Collett and husband Peter operate their family-owned Bass Coast Farm near Woolamai, south east of Melbourne, where they and their cattle and sheep enjoy spectacular views over Westernport Bay. The pair is passionate about producing high-quality, affordable food from their Angus beef cattle herd, crossbreed sheep and lamb flock, grass-fed, free-range poultry and 750-tree olive grove. Bass Coast Farm beef and lamb achieves premium grade Meat Standards Australia certification because of careful animal management from paddock to market.

Member at large

Chris Hain manages Castlemaine’s, Nagambie’s and formerly led Bendigo’s farmers’ market for almost eight years. He was VFMA president for two years to 2022 and continues as a member of the organisation’s leadership team. He’s worked in wine marketing, retail and hospitality for more than a decade, managing the cellar at Heathcote Wine Hub at the heart of Heathcote wine region. He formerly had a career in information technology as a program manager with Hewlett Packard.

Member at large

Gabi Moritz and her husband Thomas make and market Boonderoo organic sourdough breads and baked goods from Cheshunt at the top of the King Valley in Victoria’s north east. In both business and life Gabi strives to be sustainable and ethical by either producing the family’s ingredients themselves or purchasing from like-minded, local suppliers. Boonderoo source and make all their goods from scratch, including flour, stone-milled in their Oven@Cheshunt bakery using Victorian grain. Gabi believes that investment in small-scale agriculture is part of the solution to social, environmental and climatic problems. Access to farmers’ markets has enabled the pair to hold true to their values and has been a key to the bakery’s economic survival. Gabi works with the VFMA to enable small-scale producers to become more visible in their communities and shares her enterprise experience to help others build sustainable, values-based business.

Executive Officer

Sarah Parker born, raised & educated in Brisbane, Sarah relocated 20 years ago, to commence dairy farming with her husband Raymond on an irrigated dairy farm ‘Glencliffe’ at Undera, in the Goulburn Valley.

Sarah Parker is the 2022 Australian Rural Community Leader of the Year.  She holds a Bachelor of Leisure Management (Griffith University) and a Masters in Agriculture and Rural Development (University of Western Sydney).  She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course, the National Farmers Federation’s Diversity in Agricultural Leadership Program, the Victorian Climate Smart Agriculture Fellowship Program, MLA’s Livestock Leaders Program and the International Dairy Management Course (Wisconsin).

Recently appointed to the role of Executive Officer for the Victorian Farmers Markets Association, Sarah has experience in executive and management roles in agriculture, extension and research, community development, and education.

This includes participating in Australian Farming Delegation to France and RRR Women’s Delegations to the United Nations.

Past director roles include president of Australian Women in Agriculture and Vice President of the National Rural Women’s Coalition.

Sarah values a sustainable future for agriculture and is enthusiastic about the next generation becoming more involved.

FAQs

Are there any farmers’ markets in my community?

The VFMA’s accredited farmers’ markets operate across Victoria, in rural communities, regional towns and Melbourne, where you can buy Victorian produce, hand-made food, flowers, plants and hand-made goods direct from the VFMA’s producer and maker members. Go to Find a market to find your nearest VFMA farmers’ market.

How can I tell I’m at a VFMA-accredited farmers’ market?

All VFMA markets are accredited. This means the market manager has to meet and maintain the VFMA’s market accreditation standards. For example, traders who buy fresh produce in a commercial wholesale market are not allowed to re-sell this produce in our markets. To find a VFMA accredited farmers’ market near you, go to Find a market.

What is a VFMA-accredited farmers’ market?

VFMA-accredited farmers’ markets are authentic farmers’ markets. The VFMA only allows the farmer or maker who has produced the food available in our accredited markets to sell it to you. In 2011, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission registered the VFMA’s accreditation program. This means accredited markets, farmers and makers must meet a series of standards to assure shoppers about the integrity of products they make available for sale.

VFMA-accredited farmers’ markets are also required to display the VFMA’s registered striped-apple logo. Look out for it. A proportion of stallholders must be VFMA-accredited and current members.

How can I be sure the greens, vegetables and other foods sold at my local farmers’ market are really local?

Only Victorian greens, vegetables, cheese, meats, other fresh produce, wine and honey are sold in a VFMA-accredited market. Usually these will be grown or made within a reasonable distance from your market, but some VFMA-accredited producers travel farther because of seasonal factors, supply and market demand. Makers of foods like sweet baked goods will use Victorian butter and eggs and cordial makers will use Victorian fruit, but sugar will come from Queensland or NSW because sugarcane is not grown here. As you’re buying direct from a farmer or maker in our markets, you can ask them about the source of their products.

I work on Saturday or Sunday. Are any VFMA farmers’ markets open on other days of the week?

VFMA farmers’ markets are usually open Saturday or Sunday. At the moment, mid-week markets only operate in Bendigo and Castlemaine.

Is all food sold at VFMA farmers’ markets organic or free range?

No, but VFMA farmers’ markets usually have a bigger offering of higher quality organic and free range products than grocery and other main street food stores. Please visit your local farmers’ market and ask stallholders if their products are certified organic or free range. If they are these should carry the certifying authority’s label.

I’m looking for more information. Who should I contact?

Speak with your market manager, search our website or email [email protected].