The North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (NQROC) had identified in opportunity to establish a farmers market in the North Queensland region to increase regional food security, improve community health, diversify agricultural production and provide a retail outlet for small producers unable to gain access to the major supermarket groups. An online poll had indicated strong consumer interest and NQROC wanted to confirm this interest, establish the feasibility of a farmers market in the region and understand producer interest in such a facility. Balfour Consulting was retained to undertake a feasibility study and develop a preliminary business plan.
Balfour consulting undertook a telephone survey of households in the North Queensland region to gather accurate data on attitudes towards farmers markets, expectations of what a farmers market would deliver along with potential demand by age, income and location. This research also provided information on preferred locations and times of operation.
Extensive desktop research was undertaken of successful farmers markets elsewhere in Australia, including direct contact with operators of farmers markets serving populations of a similar size to Townsville. A relationship was also established with the Australian Farmers Market Association, with this organisation providing extensive input and information including what they considered the prerequisites to a successful and sustainable farmers market.
Regional producers were contacted to get their feedback on what they would want from a farmers market and whether or not they would support it. A comprehensive report was provided to NQROC outlining the financial and operational feasibility of the project based on the performance of farmers markets elsewhere in Australia, location and operational preferences of local consumers and options available, likely participation by producers, preliminary organisational structure and preliminary business plan.
A Farmers Market opens in the Townsville region in mid-2012.