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A market for our produce

After serving as Manjimup Farmer’s Market secretary since the organisation’s beginning, Beth Shorthouse has decided to step down from the executive committee.

The road towards the Manjimup Farmer’s Market started in 1996 when Beth started a berry and jam business, which had only limited outlets at the time.

Beth said it was at Ann Lyster’s insistence in either 2001 or 2002, that a market should be organised at the Farmer’s Shed out at Seven Day Road.

“Easter of that year, Ann organised the market and I went out there with my jam and I was immediately opened up to wider clientele,” Beth said.

“Ann, who was chair of New Opportunities for Agriculture and Horticulture, organised for Australian Farmer’s Market Federation guru Jane Adams to come across and hold a meeting at the ag department.

“We all made the decision to have a farmer’s market at that meeting.”

With the assistance of John Peos to use the back of his shed, the first farmer’s market was held in the beginning of 2003.

“By the end of 2003, we decided to formalise and I was the president and secretary,” Beth said.

“At the time, we only had the market once a month, something we did for quite a few years.”

Over the years, Beth has taken on what roles were needed of her, including market manager, treasurer and president — but she was always secretary.

After the use of the Peos shed, the market relocated to the Roundhouse, then Coronation Park and finally its current location on Mottram Street.

“Coronation Park was really low for a couple of years,” Beth said.

“We were just across the road from the Visitor Centre, but people didn’t come across the road.

“Then we got down to about three to four stalls and that’s not attractive either.”

It was then suggested by former Manjimup shire chief executive Jeremy Hubble that the market be installed at Manjin Park.

“He applied for the Commonwealth funding and when we got it, we built our pavilion,” Beth said.

The Manjimup Farmer’s Market moved into the pavilion in 2010.

Beth said the council had been incredibly supportive, by providing the installation of rails to provide access for older people and putting the ramps in.

“Now that we’re between the highway and the town centre, we’re well placed,” she said.

“It’s been wonderful to see young people come in with a new business, use the market as their first public front and then take off from there.”

Karri Gourmet, NewLeaf Orchard and Mary Violets are all examples of businesses that got their start at the Manjimup Farmer’s Market.

“That even happened for me, at its peak I had my jam in about 20 outlets,” Beth said.

“I think that we’ve got so much produce here, we’ve got to tell people about it.”

Having stepped down from her position as secretary, Beth said it would be hard to keep her mouth shut during committee meetings.

“I do think it’s time for younger people to take over,” she said.

“But I will stay on as long as we can pick berries and I can make jam. Having that little bit of experience can’t hurt.”

In more recent years, the committee has also trialled twilight markets.

“I’d love to see more fresh produce come back to the markets,” Beth said.

“And there is a vacancy for people who want to value-add.”

Beth thanked all the committees the market had seen over the years and encouraged people to get along to the market, on the first and third Saturday of every month.

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