Zadar county opens its first original Farmers' Market
Top-quality wine, olive oil, honey, cheese and organic fruits and vegetables were on display today in front of the Supernova shopping center in Zadar, as the Zadar County Farmers’ Market celebrated its grand opening. The new farmers’ market is a HRK 210,500 joint initiative of Zadar County and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The aim is to offer customers direct access to quality seasonal produce from Zadar County, while giving local farmers an opportunity to expand their sales by marketing their products directly to both local residents and tourists. The market is distinctive in two ways: participating farmers are willing to engage personally with customers to share traditional knowledge and customs, and the quality and local origin of the products on sale will be assured.
„Fertile soil, climate and beneficial conditions for organic production makes our County a good area for development of competitive agriculture" - County's Prefect Stipe Zrilić pointed out. "We expect producers and consumers will build mutual trust at Farmers' Market, making visit to the Market a pleasant experience as well as weekly grocery shopping. I wish high revenue to producers and thank UNDP for cooperation and delivering another project which will add value to Zadar and Zadar County citizens’ shopping experience”.
“Today’s consumers want to know exactly what they are getting,” said Louisa Vinton, UNDP Resident Representative in Croatia. “This market is a meeting place for local farmers who spare no effort to produce top-quality products and consumers who crave genuinely local goods.”
The market is a product of the long-lasting partnership between Zadar County and UNDP. Seven of the sixteen farmers who have signed up to sell their goods at the market are graduates of UNDP vocational training courses. Courses were held for cheesemakers in 2009; for goat and sheep breeders and vegetable growers in 2011; and for beekeepers in 2013. In addition, one of the producers living in Ajderovac, near Srb, had access to electricity restored as part of a UNDP project that constructed a small solar power plant on the roof of the family barn.
Zadar County has a long tradition of fruit and vegetable production. Over the last two decades the area has also earned a reputation for olive and grape production and top-quality olive oil and wine. But many small-scale agricultural producers struggle to find reliable, profitable markets for their products. As in other parts of Europe, the farmers’ market responds to growing demand for organic food and genuinely “local” products with an assured provenance. Direct contact with producers is expected also to make the farmers’ market a tourist attraction.
The Farmers’ Market will be open every Saturday from 8.00 until 14.00. UNDP will manage the market until December 2013, when Zadar County Rural Development Agency will take over management and the recruitment of producers. Participating sellers are required to reside in Zadar County and run registered and legal agricultural holdings. To popularize the market, many other events will be organized throughout the year, including tastings and ratings of local food; presentations of local cuisine; folk ensemble performances and demonstrations of folk traditions related to agriculture; as well as celebrations of religious holidays.