THERE’S never been a more important time to shop local and support our local farmers than this Christmas.

This year has been an especially tough one, and although rain has recently fallen in some areas, more is needed.

The sustained dry conditions mean cheesemakers Kerry and Paul Wilson, of Nimbin Valley Dairy, are spending $1000 extra per week on hay to feed their herd of cattle and goats, and $500 a week to buy in water to keep their cheese factory running. They’ve had to lay off casual staff members to keep the business ticking over.

Water supplies are drying up everywhere, including at Tyalgum farm, Summit Organics

With no grass, Warren Wiggins of Bexhill sheep farm Local Dorper Lamb has been spending $120 a day on hay for the past two months to feed his flock.

Tyalgum organic vegetable farmer Rod Bruin, of Summit Organics, who has stalls at Mullumbimby and New Brighton Farmers Markets, says he and wife Tania have scaled back their crops and are constantly reassessing conditions as the water in the dams they use for irrigation dwindles. 

“We look at each week and then we decide what crops have to go,” he said.

Unable to grow enough produce, Georgica farmer Kenrick Riley has had to stop coming to the Mullumbimby Farmers Markets altogether, and says he has never seen his dams so dry.

“It will be two months after meaningful rain before we are back at the markets,” he told customers in a recent Instagram post.

“Never have we missed more than a couple of market. Ever.”

So many of our local farmers rely on the farmers markets to make a living and keep their small scale farms alive, so if you love having access to fresh and healthy local food, buying directly from farmers at the markets this Christmas is the best way you can show your support and  help them to continue the great work they do. 

Buy local this Christmas and support your local farmers

It’s easy to fill your Christmas table with local produce. Everything from your Christmas roast to the fruit for your pav can be picked up at your farmers market, as well as a whole lot of great foodie presents for your friends and family.

*Next week, Friday December 13, stallholders will say thanks to their many loyal customers and celebrate the festive season with their annual customer Christmas party. A collection of free tasting plates showcasing fresh local produce and food products will be offered to customers throughout the morning.