Locals head down to Lismore Farmers Market to support local businesses.
Locals head down to Lismore Farmers Market to support local businesses.

“Community spirit” keeps farmers market alive

BUYERS and sellers headed down to Lismore Farmers Market this morning (March 28) in an effort to keep local businesses afloat.

Despite the recent closure of countless businesses, clubs, social gatherings and communal activities, locals have continued support the local economy within the bounds of new laws and restrictions.

Members of the Lismore Council, including the senior health inspector, were in attendance to ensure that social distancing rules were being followed and prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Lismore local, Marita, said that the markets are essential for “supporting the local economy, supporting local businesses, keeping people healthy with fresh fruit and vegetables, and it’s a great opportunity to get people out of the house for a bit.”

“The Lismore community are really supporting each other. I feel a lot of compassion for the people losing their jobs, but the community spirit is still there.”

Ian Mulligan, owner of Tullamor Macadamia’s and Coffee, has been coming down to the markets since 2003. He has said that everyone is still coming down and most are observing the social protocols.

While locals come to the market to source their produce, Mr Mulligan said that most also like to “come down for a good yarn, so it’s still a great place to be.”

The closure of markets throughout the Northern Rivers has seen many local business owners struggle to make ends meet. Tony Parancin, owner of Naturezone Busy Little Bee in Ballina, said that his life's work may be in jeopardy if this trend continues.

“I have lost 90% of my income. I usually sell at four markets and this is the only one left where I can sell my honey.”

Mr Parancin previously sold his products at the Bangalow Market, Lismore Carboot market, Channon Craft Market and Evans Head Farmers Market. All of these have been postponed to a later date.

“I have children to feed, bills to pay, and I need an income to maintain my beehives. I can’t even pay my rent.”

“We need to keep the markets open. We are the backbone of the community. I work seven days – selling honey and taking care of the beehives – and I always show up.”

Mr Parancin said that if the markets go under, “something we have been working toward all our lives, we could lose it.”