The Willunga farmers market began in February 2002, and is a regular feature evey Saturday morning from 8 am to 12 midday.. The main rule is that produce must be based around the Fleurieu Peninsula - for instance it should be grown there, or if it is processed product, the major ingredients should be local.
The market if held in a car park of the Alma Hotel. The hotel charges very little rent, but does run a stall providing coffee and fruit juice.
Market coordinator is Marianne Downes. Her husband is the author of some notable Australian recipe books, and she used to make sour dough bread in Melbourne. The chairperson of the market group is Zaire Flanagan, from Fleurieu Feral Olive Oil.
The market is still young, and new marketeers are discovering it every week. It regularly gets at least 500 to 800 visitors and a big day is closer to 2,000.
Smells and colour is a big feature of farmers markets. All that food collected in one place, and the fairground feeling makes market-shopping fun. A sample of some of the stallholders might include the following: bread from Cocos, who provide a variety of loaves, some with bush spice flavours; local olive oil from local producer Tony Russo; Willunga-grown almonds from M&M Jones, a varied display of fresh produce from Barry Beach, a NASAA certified vegetable and herb grower; herbs, spices and sauces, jams, chutneys and other processed products from local identities Sam and Mikaela, otherwise known as The Spice Girlz; cold pressed roast almond oil, mustard seed oil, walnut oil and olive oil from Tony and Margaret at Harding's Olives; herb seedlings from Mel, at Hillside herbs, sweet tarts using spelt flour, made by Remedy, fish including trout from Kookaburra Park or smoked black bream and aquaculture-grown Mullaway from Strother fish farms; flowers from Willunga Plains Flowers; cheese, yoghurt and milk from BD Paris Creek Dairy, and more vegetable producers including Tim Parkinson of Mt Jagged Organics, Don Scarfo, from Myponga, Wes the potato grower from Meadows, or Ray Seidel's fruit (mainly apples, pears and stone-fruit).
The market stalls cost $25 per week, which includes public liability cover. Stalls supply their own tent, but the market can help with selection and purchase. The market will also sell or hire trestles.
The market began with assistance from the Onkaparinga Council, including a small cash grant. They were very lucky to have internationally renown conservationist David Suzuki open the markets. Marianne Downes rang him at short notice when he was visiting Adelaide, to explain that here was a local initiative. He was keen to support the positive action, having previously been known mainly as a dooms-dayer and harbinger of bad news, this provided a good opportunity to support local action. Several thousand shoppers were attracted by media publicity around the opening, ensuring a good day and solid start to the market.
Even the occasional severe weather does not keep the regular punters away, although it may reduce numbers of more casual shoppers.
The market has provided considerable interest, and observers from other communities have noticed the positive response. The market moved to the city for one weekday recently, at the Adelaide Wine Centre, and attracted good TV and media coverage. Other farmers markets are expected to begin soon in the Barossa Valley and the central Adelaide Hills.