Farmers’ Markets are traditional country markets where farmers get to put up stalls during the weekend and sell their produce first hand. This ensures that interested consumers get the freshest of produce with no chemicals added for preservation; while the farmers benefit hugely from the retail price that they sell the produce for, since the wholesale buyers are removed. These markets are also a place of gathering, and an opportunity for talented locals to sell handcrafted items, creative homemade food and other exciting things.
While there used to be such markets in Sri Lanka several decades ago; with the growth of supermarkets and large consumer stores, the tradition disappeared. While there are a few remote villages that have small weekend markets; the fun and excitement of finding exciting new products was not there anymore, as these were just basic vegetable markets.That was when the Good Market was created.
How the Good Market came about…
Just a few years ago in 2012 as a volunteer-driven initiative. A few enterprising individuals started asking themselves whether the current consumer market situation on organic produce was really benefitting either the producers or the consumers. They realized that the only people benefitting were the middle men.
They decided to start a self financing social enterprise. The aim was to give farmers, talented home cooks and craft makers a space to sell their items; which would encourage them on the pathway to organic food and eco-friendly concepts. On the other hand they aimed raise awareness and promote sustainability and healthy living to the consumers of Sri Lanka. As they did not wish to have to go around searching for funds; they decided to charge a minimal fee from the vendors for the space and promotion.
The very first Good Market event happened in 2012 at the Colombo Racecourse Ground; and hosted 33 stalls. It was an instant success; and the concept snowballed from there. More and more farmers and small business owners became interested in the Good Market. In 2014, TheGood Market Organic and Natural Food Shop was opened to provide consistent income to the vendors. The Good Market became a trend symbol and brand name amongst the youth and fashionable city dwellers. The organization started getting international interest in 2015 and the team realized the need for an online platform and application form for vendors. The application form came into play in 2016; and in 2017, the website went live and brought Good Market to the next level. Today, Good Market maintains a presence not only in Colombo, but also in Kandy and Galle.
How it Works…
Vendors who have organic or sustainable products apply to put up a stall at the Good Market.
They can apply under any of the six categories.Sector Minimum Standards for Online Application Additional Standards for Saturday Good Market Additional Info for Event Records Agriculture: Crop Cultivation
Single-ingredient farm products including fresh fruits, vegetables, rice, legumes, coconut, spices, mushrooms, plants Organic practices with no synthetic agrichemicals or hydroponic practices that reduce environmental impact. No genetically modified organisms. Valid organic PGS or organic certificate from an accredited organic certification body Copy of organic certificate Agriculture: Animal Husbandry
Eggs, fresh milk, and meat No synthetic additives, growth promoters or preventative antibiotics. Free range and pastured. Valid free range or organic PGS or organic certificate from an accredited organic certification body Copy of free range or organic certificate Food & Beverage
Value-added packaged food, ready-to-eat food, bee honey, kithul syrup Natural ingredients with no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated oils or other additives. No hidden ingredients. Responsible packaging. Focus on health(e.g. fruits & vegetables, whole grains) ORsustainable sourcing(e.g. organic, small-scale local producers)OR social / environmental cause. Product list with full ingredient details for each product. Sourcing details for sustainably sourced ingredients. Personal Care, Cleaning & Aromatherapy
Soap, body care, essential oils, cleaning products,candles, incense No synthetic colors, fragrances, detergents, antimicrobials or ingredients with known health or environmental risks. No crude oil byproducts (e.g. paraffin, mineral oil, silicone). No hidden ingredients. – Product list with full ingredient details for each product. Sourcing details for sustainably sourced ingredients. Imported Products Minimum sector standards Not grown or produced locally. Provides special health or environmental benefits. Imported through official channels. Product list with ingredient or material details for each product. Sourcing details for organic products. Other Products
Apparel, jewelry, housewares, toys Focused on benefiting people and the planet. Made from sustainably sourced materials(e.g. natural, renewable, organic, recycled) – Product list with material details for each product. Sourcing details for sustainably sourced materials.
This Good Market Approval Systems maintains organic and sustainability standards. The Organic Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) was introduced in 2013. The farms of organic produce and animal husbandry vendors are visited by members of the Good Market Volunteer Group and checked for quality. The vendors then receive a certificate confirming the free range or organic standards of their products. They then have permission to sell their produce at the Good Market. Similarly products of all other categories have highly investigative standardization processes carried out.
The packaging materials by the vendors are required to be sustainable. Styrofoam and single-use plastics are not permitted. This ensures that the green policy of the market is adhered. The vendors have to pay a fee to open up their stall. However, stall fees are kept as low as possible, in order to reduce the entry barrier for rural producers, small enterprises, and new businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible. The stall payments are used to cover a number of expenses such as cover canopy rental, set-up and take-down, electricity and water, promotion, coordination expenses, and etc. This gives the sellers an opportunity to market healthy, environmentally friendly products at a low cost; and hence enabling them to give competitive prices.
Popular products are also stocked at the Good Market store opposite the Racecourse Grounds. In addition to the products for sale; the place is also a venue for talented entertainers to showcase their abilities; and a place for small non-profit organizations and other service providers, such as massage therapists and mehendi artists, to gain a larger audience for their services.
Going to the Good Market is not like going on a normal shopping spree. It’s more like going going to a fun fair, just without the rides. It’s a places of wonderful discoveries, as you find your eyes lighting up at the sight of one product or another. Since its all healthy and sustainable products that are sold there, you can engage in completely guilt free spending; knowing that your money will benefit the community, and the things you buy benefit your health and/or the environment.
Regardless of whether you are a serious person getting on in years, in your prime and counting your finances, young and full of spirit, or a kid at heart; the Good Market will definitely have something to catch your interests. With its lively atmosphere, friendly crowd, good food, great shopping and entertainment events all day long; the Good Market is a cool place to hang out and spend the day, no matter what your age is.
If you’re in Colombo, drop by the Good Market on Saturday at the Nuga Tree Car Park, Race Course Grounds, Colombo 7; or the one on Thursday at Diyatha Uyana, Rajagiriya.