Alissa and I started the Farmer’s market in our town four years ago, back when she was the Clerk to the Town Council and I was a Councillor. From a crazy idea she had, we ran a Harvest Market and a Christmas market as test cases back in 2004. These proved pretty successful, and we sourced some great local producers who provided meat, veg and dairy products along organic principles. These markets were quite significant really, as the town was a market town, but the market had disappeared somewhere in the past. So when we ran the Harvest Market, it was the first one the town had seen for at least a decade.
After the test markets, we decided to set up a regular market from 9am to 1pm on the third Saturday of every month, and that was how it was for the next fifteen months. Every market day, we would get up at six, be on site at seven, helping the traders get set up, and then we’d stay there til about three in the afternoon when the last trader left.
It was quite a steep learning curve, but the great thing about our town is that there’s a strong community, and so once it got to nine o’clock, the next four hours would fly by as we’d chat to friends and family.
After doing it for some time, we decided to bite the bullet and have two markets a month – the first and the third Saturday – and that’s how it’s been ever since. We were fortunate in getting new traders that complemented the existing stalls, and now people can plan their monthly shopping in line with what the market has to offer. We have a wide range of stalls these days selling everything from fair trade goods, to honey, to the Women’s Institute, to Goan cuisine, to locally pies and quiches and a heck of a lot more!
Sometimes it seems incredible to think that Alissa and I started it. She was the brains and I was the brawn and now we’ve gotten to the point where we have an independent market manager, a group of “market friends” who help with promotion and new ideas, and it really is a part of the local community. So much so that all the new housing developments being built around the area include the market in their promo literature.
One of the secrets to our success is the Funky Teapot, a small cafe stall in the centre of the market, where people can buy fairtrade teas and coffees and freshly made cakes and pies. We’ve got chairs and tables around the teapot and some people spend a couple of hours hanging out there supping the community spirit. The picture at the top is the cake selection on offer today, including vegan banana and cornmeal muffins (from my mother in law) and pumpkin pie (from my beautiful wife).
If you want to find out more about the market you can visit it’s website.