It is really exciting to see how farmer’s markets are taking off in towns and cities worldwide. We are always looking for the best quality ingredients for our daily nourishment, and farmer’s markets provide a great place to source the best fresh, local and seasonal produce direct from the growers and producers. It is possible to find organically grown vegetables and fruit, sough-dough breads from small artisan bakeries, fresh fish and seafood straight from the sea, herbs and garden plants, pickles and pestos and many other interesting things.
More and more people are questioning where, and how, their food is grown and they are keen to support small-scale farmers who care about the quality of their soil and the environment. When we buy from them directly at a farmer’s market, we know that we are helping them to make a viable living– they can sell directly to us with no middlemen and thereby receive a retail price for what hey sell. And we can rest assured that bought food products are hand-made by craftsmen and contain only simple ingredients, unlike commercial versions that come with a long list of additives.
Then there is the personal aspect to shopping at a farmer’s market that is completely missing from a visit to Tesco! You can to chat to the stall-holders about how they grow or make things, about how the weather is affecting their crops, or learn more about the right time to harvest which vegetable or how shellfish are grown and harvested! As time goes on a quiet respect and gratitude grows between you as you get to know each other.
To buy food from farmer’s markets is to make a lower carbon choice, which is important for those of us who care about climate change. In doing so we are supporting more sustainable farming methods with less use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers; and there are also no air miles, no refrigeration or plastic packaging or storing of food in air-conditioned super markets. The rules of most farmers markets do not allow produce to be sold if comes from more than around 100 miles away, so local and seasonal it has to be!
What I love most of all is the party-like atmosphere of the farmer’s market: the crowds, the colours, the surprise and delight of new things appearing each week: the first strawberries of summer, the abundant squash and apple harvests as autumn sets in, and the fact that they are held outside in all weathers. A weekly visit can quite easily become part of ones way of life, and one to be looked forward to.
It is great to see the market returning to its traditional place at the heart of a community!