About the VFMA:

Founded in 2004, the Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association Inc. (VFMA) is a not for profit membership association, incorporated under the laws of Victoria with the purpose of supporting and promoting authentic farmers’ markets in Victoria.
The VFMA defines authentic farmers’ markets as places where:
•         Farmers sell direct to the public in a fair marketplace not compromised by resellers;
•         Farmers and producers create connections and relationships with customers and with each other;
•         Customers are able to purchase quality, freshly harvested produce, supporting local farmers and regional Victorian communities;
•         Customers buy fresh locally grown produce directly from the grower, and value added products direct from the producer, who receives full economic and social credit for their contribution to a sustainable local food system.
Authenticity should be integral to the term “farmers’ market”.  Accordingly, in 2011 the VFMA created and registered an Accreditation Program with the ACCC to certify and differentiate authentic farmers’ markets for producers and consumers.  The foundation of accreditation is the certification that the substantial majority of the produce being sold has been grown in Victoria.  At accredited farmers’ markets, the public purchase accredited products that have been made or grown by accredited producers.
The key principles of accredited farmers’ markets are that:
•          The producer has grown, reared, caught or processed the produce being offered for sale, and;
•         Each stall is staffed by at least one person who has intimate knowledge of, and direct involvement with, the production process of items for sale.
The following are never permitted at accredited farmers’ markets:
•         Re-sellers of fruit, vegetables or any other farm based product;
•         Re-packagers of any food or drink;
•         Art and craft where no clear farm origin is defined;
•         Bric-a-brac stalls.

VFMA 2017 Committee

President

Wayne Shields, Peninsula Fresh Organics
I am a 5th Generation market gardener and have been certified organic for almost 6 years. I have been involved in farmers' markets since 2009, when I also became a member of the VFMA.  I am passionate about the VFMA and its charter and believe I have a good relationship with other stallholders and will be valuable in representing them on the Committee. I attend many accredited farmers' markets around the state and am keen to see the VFMA markets improve and offer what the customers are seeking.

Vice President

Chris Chapple, Market Manager of Eltham Farmers Market
Founder and current President of Local Food Connect Inc. (www.localfoodconnect.org.au).
As President of LFC I led the established of the successful Eltham Farmers Market which I now manage. I am a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, I have a degree in economics, and I am member of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance. I have extensive experience in sales and marketing (IT industry), have established and developed a successful multi-outlet retail business, was a Rotarian for 19 years (past-president, Paul Harris Fellow), was the president of the Eltham Chamber of Commerce and was a local councillor.
I will use my skills in relationship building, leadership, strategy and business management to strengthen the VFMA’s important role of supporting local producers and educating the public about their food choices.

Secretary

Amanda Masters, Di’s Rhubarb, Industry Stakeholder
I believe that the best food in Victoria comes from farmers' markets and the producers are integral members of the community. I became involved with farmers' markets about eight years ago, working for Gordon Jones Potatoes with my husband Andrew, Gordon’s nephew. I currently work for Di's Rhubarb. I have extensive experience in hospitality and in publications editing. I am the Head of Science at Melbourne Grammar School, Grimwade House. Through my teaching, I have developed high level skills in teamwork and project management, and look forward to using these skills to continue and develop the terrific work of the VFMA. Being a representative from the stall worker fraternity, I can provide a perspective from another sector that is present at farmers' markets. Communication of information between farmers, producers, shoppers and the VFMA is vital. Bridging gaps in communication will be a priority during my time on the VFMA committee.

Treasurer

Simon Schulz, Schulz Organic Farm Timboon
I am a born and bred dairy farmer and at the age of 21 I started my first dairy manufacturing business and in 2013 I won the Victorian Young Achiever Awards for Business. I see the skills and experiences that I have learnt being needed to develop a sustainable VFMA and I would like to assist with growing regional farmers' markets and encouraging locals to support them. I can contribute financial management skills to the VFMA, where a financially healthy organisation helps to grow the voice of members in the community, and encourage other farmers to get involved.

Committee Members


Chris Balasz, Sage Beef and Lamb

Chris is a first generation farmer. Starting with a small herd of Hereford’s, Chris has expanded his paddock to plate business (SageChoice) to run a sustainable business supplying ethically raised grass fed beef and lamb through a network of like-minded farmers to the local community.
Passionate about ethical livestock farming and ethical meat consumption - you will find him at VFMA markets talking and advocating the need for people to understand where their food comes from and how consumers have the power to change the food paradigm for the better.
Chris comes from a corporate background having worked in a large pharmaceutical company for over 18 years. Now having left the corporate life behind, Chris is primarily focused on the farming and food production. Trained and educated as a scientist, Chris is also passionate about continual education having recently completed a MBA, he brings fresh thinking to traditional farming. Years of business, management and science experience is being used to help improve and create a sustainable farming future.

  

Chris Hain, Market Manager of Bendigo and Castlemaine Farmers' Markets

I have been managing the Bendigo Market since September 2015. I was fortunate to be part of the original working party that launched the market and then volunteered throughout the first year. Having taken on the Castlemaine Market in July of this year (2016) I believe I have a breadth and depth of understanding of Market Operations as well as a strong appreciation for the issues and challenges facing our producers as they try to meet their business objectives through accredited participation in VFMA markets.

My career has encompassed more than 30 years of senior management experience, mostly in the IT domain in both domestic and international contexts. My responsibilities have encompassed; Customer Relationship Management, Project Management, Business Development, Organisational and Cultural Development and the Design and Implementation of mission critical business systems. I believe I can add value to the operation of the committee and assist the VFMA with the successful realisation of their business strategy.

Miranda Sharp, Founder, Melbourne Farmers Markets
Miranda Sharp coordinates Melbourne Farmers' Markets. Needless to say, she can usually be found on a Saturday morning at a farmers’ market somewhere! A retired chef, caterer and food writer, Miranda has cheerfully devoted 25 professional years to Melbourne’s food industry. She finds it very hard to determine where work ends and life begins. Farmers’ markets are the culmination of her interest in Victorian producers and the edible spoils of every season. It is her quest to provide opportunities for everyone who eats to access, enjoy and afford fresh food. And more fundamentally, to remind us all that without the farmers’, the rest isn’t possible.

Gabriele Moritz, Boonderoo Farm
I always had a strong interest in farming and subsistence activities. When my family and I migrated from Austria about 28 years ago we started farming immediately and have attended Markets ever since. Over time the sale of bread and bakery goods, which used to be a side line, has overtaken the sale of vegetables. The farm nowadays mainly supplies the bakery with fruit, vegetables, herbs and eggs. We specialise in sourdough breads and fairly healthy sweet treats. For maximum health benefits we mill all our flour from biodynamic grains just prior to baking. Energy consumption is a major consideration in our production. We have had an independent solar system for the last 20 years. We bake in a wood fired Allan Scott Oven and have converted our main Market vehicle to run on fish and chips oil. I strongly believe in the concept of Farmers' Markets for the benefit of our communities. It is the natural forum to foster diversity in food and it reintegrates farming and food production back into communities. The main reason for joining the VFMA Committee this year is to be one voice for regional Markets. Whilst my involvement in the past has been as a stallholder and consumer, we are now organising a new accredited Market in Wodonga. This should provide me with a whole new perspective.