Pako Farmers Market has closed after eight months of bringing fresh produce to Ashby Primary School for local shoppers.

“Everyone’s disappointed,” said Local Food Loop founder and market supporter Patrick O’Callaghan.

“It’s something that we thought was very worthwhile and we still do.”

In 2017 the State Government provided a $30,000 grant for the Melbourne Farmers’ Market to do a feasibility study for a farmers’ market in Geelong.

The study examined supply and demand and potential sites.

But only a small portion of leftover funding went towards the Pako Farmers Market itself, Mr O’Callaghan explained.

“It certainly wasn’t anywhere near $30,000,” he said.

“Most of that was spent well before it got to Geelong.”

From the leftover money, Pako Farmers Market hired a manager for one day a week and contributed to the school.

The lack of good crowds at the market caused the closure, Mr O’Callaghan said.

“The foot traffic through the gate wasn’t sufficient for the stallholders to be there.”

Of the market’s up to 20 stallholders, some were operating at a loss, while others decided they could make better profits elsewhere, Mr O’Callaghan said.

The Pako Farmers Markets volunteer committee would soon meet to discuss other ways of bringing fresh produce to Geelong, he said.

“We have not canvassed any (ideas) yet – but it will be the first thing we discuss.

“We like to say that it’s on hold rather than it’s finalised – because we’re committed to helping farmers in the region.

“We know that the food in the region is of fantastic quality.”

Mr O’Callaghan said the contribution to Ashby Primary School had paid for new infrastructure, which would benefit the school after the market’s closure.

Despite smaller-than-expected crowds attending the market, locals took to social media with “lovely” messages of support following the closure.

“People are genuinely disappointed they won’t be able to attend any more.”


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