Top marks for market

Cambridge Farmers’ Market has just been voted Aotearoa’s most popular, along with its sister market in Hamilton. Photo: Jen Wilkinson.

The Cambridge Farmers’ Market and its sister market in Hamilton have been named best in the country.

The two markets, operating under the Waikato Farmers’ Market brand, have been recognised as the “most popular farmers’ market in Aotearoa” at the Organic NZ awards.

“We’re very, very excited to have won,” said market manager Jen Wilkinson.

“Hamilton’s been operating since 2006 and Cambridge has been operating in Victoria Square since 2010 and this is the first time that our farmers markets have ever won anything – so it’s definitely something we would like to shout from the rooftops.”

The award certificate, which market manager Jen Wilkinson proudly displayed at the Cambridge market last weekend. Photo: supplied.

The Waikato Farmers’ Market, run by the Waikato Farmers’ Market Trust, was one of nine finalists for the award, which was decided by public vote. Nelson came second and Otago third.

Wilkinson said the win, announced last week in Wellington, was a morale boost for stallholders after a turbulent time.

“We’ve got about 80 stallholders over both markets at the moment and they’ve had so many horrible things happen, even this year with the cyclone and crops flooded and whole orchards being wiped out. It’s a little boost in the grimness of what Mother Nature has thrown at them over the past five months.”

The Saturday Cambridge market, with up to 40 stalls, can attracted 1500 visitors.

“I think it started with about 10 stalls in 2010 and it’s just kept going,” Wilkinson, who has managed the market for 18 months, said.

She has experienced many memorable moments there over that time.

“The one that sticks in my mind the most was a visit from a stag do,” she said.

“We had an amazing busker on, and I think one of the [groom’s] dares was to embarrass himself in public, so he had to get up behind the microphone and sing. We had a lot of people watching, but the unfortunate thing about that was he was in a cow costume and he didn’t have a backside to the costume, so it was a little bit indecent…and unfortunately a couple of police officers got wind of it, so they came over and said ‘you need to leave this public space’. It was hilarious.”

She said she was always on the lookout for new additions to the market.

“That’s always our goal, just supporting small businesses.”

Market manager Jen Wilkinson (left) pictured at the Cambridge Farmers’ Market with Karin Gubb from Sunset Orchard in October 2022.

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