The team behind Grey Lynn Farmers Market

Carol Gunn and Callum McAlpine are both passionate about their roles as managers of the ever popular Grey Lynn Farmers Market.

The Market started in September 2008 - eight years ago. For the last birthday, we had a party, with bunting, ginger beer and of course - cake. Four of our stallholders have been there from the beginning.

And what is the philosophy behind it?
The Grey Lynn Farmers Market is a not-for-profit society - an ethically driven food market that aims to provide a strong community focal point. We love, and encourage, the social vibe of the market where locals get to meet and chat.

There is a strong sustainability driver for our market. We encourage renewable packaging, responsible waste disposal and recycling. And we encourage sustainable transport options such as walking, cycling and public transport.

With a lean financial base, the market relies on, and is highly appreciative of, support from our 'Friends of the Market', Ponsonby News and sponsors (including: Hakanoa Ginger Beer, Bread and Butter Bakery, WE Accounting, Nature Baby and Ripe).

Is the market open every Sunday?
Yes, apart from two Sundays over the Christmas break, the market is open every Sunday - 9am-12.30pm. Some people do arrive early because they are concerned that they will miss out but there’s no need - the veggie queue is shorter after 9.30am and George is now bringing more so customers won’t miss out.

Who are your customers?
They are mainly locals from the Western Bays area. We have a lot of regulars, but there are always some new faces too. Newcomers are always surprised by how many people they bump into.

Last year, we did a small survey that showed ethical production is the most important driver for our customers. They are very interested in sustainable living and like buying their food direct from the producers - they like knowing exactly how it is made or farmed. For many regulars, the market is a cornerstone of their weekly shop.

What is usually available?
There is always something new or seasonal at the market, like the delicious Mamaku Blueberries that have just come back to the market.

All our regular stallholders at the market have a loyal following. George’s Gardens is very popular with a wide range of fresh vegetables, and some fruit - most of it is spray free. If organic is important to you, Fresh Gardens have certified organic leafy greens. You will also find: Jam Pak’d meat pies and custard tarts, Il Casaro cheeses, Zeki’s Turkish breads and snacks, Narbey olive oil, Not Milk nut milks and vegan chocolate mousse slice, Something Big is brewing kombucha, Mardi Gras avocados, Paradise Lost flowers, Heirloom Organix seedlings, Neat Meat, The Salmon Man, award-winning Jersey Girls A2 Milk, The Coffee Store, Very Good Dumplings and Fab’s Crepes. And usually there is a busker to set the mood. There is something for everyone.

You run workshops - what kind of topics have you covered and what’s coming?
Because we are all about the community and sustainability, we like to celebrate (eg, our birthday and Christmas Eve) and we ran a few events last year (Pop-up rat trap shop, Biketober, Trash-to-Trade). From time-to-time we have 'How-to' workshops like: living without waste, tips for growing tomatoes, home composting, bread making. If you want to know what is coming up, follow us on Facebook.

What happens to the waste generated each Sunday?
We aim to be zero waste. Waste is such a dilemma - not just for us, but also our city and our planet. As No-Waste Nomad, Hannah Blumhardt said, “there is no 'away' to throw rubbish.”

The least glamorous part of my job is sorting the waste at the end of every market.

I usually end up talking trash with passers-by. It makes me realise how much people still don’t know about the products they are buying/using, and no wonder - it is so confusing.

Most of the market waste is composted by We Compost, including plastic-look-a-like PLA products that are compostable in commercial compost systems.

Stallholders are encouraged to take their waste with them, in a product stewardship approach.

We encourage stall holders to use plastic alternatives. But nothing is ever simple - some plastics touted as biodegradable are actually worse because they end up as micro-plastics that are impossible to remove from the environment. Some plastics are hard to avoid because they are light (less transport fuel burned) and lengthen shelf-life (lessen food waste, safer food). We view it as a journey and encourage everyone to be more conscious of the waste they generate and where it goes.

We have some great new jute Farmers Market bags to encourage people to use durable shopping bags rather than plastic.

Any plans for improving the market?
We are always open to new ideas and plan to do some more research this year to hear what changes our customers would like. Watch this space.

Anything else you’d like to add?
That should be enough for now.

GREY LYNN FARMERS MARKET, 510 Richmond Road, M: 021 928 202, Follow us on twitter:
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