SAGE gets wise online

Community stories: 5 August 2015

Moruya is a small community of approximately 11,000 people located on the fertile river flats of what was once the ‘food bowl’ of Sydney, 303 km to the south. In 2009 a small group of people got together and formed a committee to create SAGE – Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening Eurobodalla. New Year’s Day 2013 marked the first SAGE Farmers Market in Moruya, and it was a significant day of new beginnings, particularly, the beginning of a local movement whose sole purpose and passion is to provide locally grown produce to the community.

Since its inception SAGE has been well supported by local organisations and businesses, and now has over 200 members who are passionate about, or have an interest in local food production. The Market hosts growers of all types, from big backyards to 100 hectare farms, from conventional horticulture to ‘spray-free’, bio-farming to certified organic. Growers come from Eurobodalla and beyond, with the closest commercial growers being a mere 500m from the Markets.

Online portal connects producers and consumers

One of SAGE’s main aims is to ‘grow the grower’ to help ensure greater food security for the local area. The management committee recognised the importance of matching production with innovative ways to reach the consumer and received an $8,000 ANZ Seeds of Renewal grant to engage the services of a professional web site developer with expertise in e-commerce to help them launch SAGE Online.

The project saw the development and implementation of an online Farmers Market, with the primary aim of increasing the viability of farmers within the Eurobadalla area, by expanding their ability to reach the consumer. With the system up and running, locals are now able to pre-order and directly pay the producers. This has created connections between farmers and consumers, and developed an emphasis on “paddock to plate”, inspiring and encouraging local, healthy food choices.

Stuart Whitelaw, Chairman of SAGE, said that SAGE Online is the first on-line portal of its type (that we know about) in Australia.

“This has generated great interest from other farmers markets / food networks and from the Australian Farmers Market Association, who see great potential for this application. That fact that this has happened in a small regional town has been surprising for many.”