Support your farmers' market
PUBLISHED: 16:14 03 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:21 20 February 2013
Petra Hornsby looks at how Hertfordshire farmers' markets are supporting sustainability across the county...
LOCAL farmers markets seem to be growing steadily in popularity as more of us embrace the benefits of fresh, organic and simply made foods that have made just a short journey to point of purchase. Supermarkets may offer great variety and convenience for the shopper but the shopping public are becoming wiser to an alternative way to shop, where food is grown locally and produced on a smaller scale but with a dedication to freshness, taste and quality.
Hertfordshire is fortunate to have a healthy list of farmers markets across the county, that bring people into the town and village centres for an enjoyable monthly or twice monthly shop where they can meet the producers, learn about the production of the food for sale and taste before they buy.
This award-winning market is a certified market which means all foods sold are produced and brought to market following criteria which state that produce must come from within a defined area and be brewed, pickled, baked or processed by the stallholder using at least one ingredient grown or reared within that area.
Hatfield Farmers Market has been going from strength to strength since it first started in 1999 and now visitors can expect to find on average 55 stalls selling meat, including ostrich and game, fish, organic bread and seasonal fruit and vegetables. Beer from Sawbridgeworth is a firm favourite as are the cheeses, honey, Caribbean style cakes and meat and fruit pies. Discover Hatfields Market in White Lion Square from 9am to 1pm on the 1st Saturday of each month. Disabled access and wide aisles between stalls. 01707 357377
This popular market is frequently attracting visitors from far and wide, attracted to its foods and crafts. Run by the parish council, it sells locally produced meats, cheeses, vegetables and jams as well as natural cosmetics, handmade cards and a selection of wonderful and unique crafts. As well as there being delicious cakes to buy and take home there are also refreshments available to revive and replenish after all that shopping. Held on the fourth Sunday of the month, from 9.30am to 12.30pm, at Woolmer Green Village Hall, Hall Lane. Free parking.
All the stallholders at the Hertford Market are accredited by FARMA, a co-operative of farmers and producers selling on a local scale, and are sourced within a 30-mile radius. One of their stallholders Highbury Farm not only sells a variety of lamb cuts and minces, it also brings to market knitting yarn, sheepskins, slippers and gloves. For Hertford, like all the markets featured, foods being produced as simply and honestly as you could hope to find is what makes them so attractive. Other foods available include burgers, sausages, eggs, pies, coffee, sundried tomatoes and award-winning cupcakes. Daisy Roots are also there with plants, shrubs and perennials. Held in The Market Place on the second Saturday of each month from 8.30am to 1.30pm. On July 7 there will be an extra market to mark the Olympic torch relay coming through the town. www.hertford.net
Barnet Farmers Market runs every other Saturday from 8.30am to 3.30pm and can be found at the rear of The Spires Shopping Centre. The market is also accredited by FARMA and produce comes from within a 50-mile radius. Traders include Giggly Pig from Essex who sell a great range of naturally flavoured sausages and Wobbly Bottom Farm with their fantastic goats cheeses, both soft and hard. Whether you are buying for the week, month or looking for a treat or two for supper, the stallholders are the experts who are passionate about what they produce and sell and can help you find what you want. They will be keen for you to try before you buy making it hard to resist the exotic Indian curry sauces, yummy breads, cakes and patisseries. www.thespiresbarnet.co.uk
Wheathampstead is a delightful, historic village and well worth a visit. A good time to do this would be on the third Sunday of the month from 10am to 1pm when East Lane Car Park becomes the venue for their farmers market, with a range of stalls selling an impressive range of seasonally fresh and delicious vegetables and fruit, meat, fish, local watercress, jams and pickles to name just a few. The bread is made using organic wheat grown just two miles from Redbourn, and then milled at Redbournbury. The ï¬‚our is hand baked into bread, scones, tea cakes, rolls and baps. Particular market favourites include the sun-dried tomato and rosemary focaccia. Locally grown watercress is also a speciality. The Womens Institute provide refreshments in the hall where there are indoor craft stalls for local artists and craftspeople. www.wheathampstead.net
Berkhamsted Castle, although now in ruins, was the site where William the Conquerer ascended the throne in 1066 and no doubt if there had been a farmers market back then King William would have been thrilled.
The local vineyard at Frithsden is a very popular feature of the market that takes place on the third Sunday of each month. Fabulous fish from the South-West coast is also extremely well-received along with Debbies selection of delicious home cooked meals that cater for a variety of tastes and diets including gluten free, vegetarian and non-dairy. Other produce includes cupcakes, brownies, drizzle loaf and banana cake, meats and cheeses. If the shopping stokes up an appetite then visitors can indulge in sweet and savoury pancake snacks from Little Brittany. The market takes place in the High Street between 10am and 2pm.
The farmers market at Tring started in 1999 and has successfully been promoting the value of local food and crafts for local people since then.
Over the years it has grown in size and offers all the popular produce that dedicated shoppers have come to expect and enjoy. Fresh lamb and mutton travel the short journey from Aylesbury courtesy of Johnnie Watherstons traditional farm, Kiwichik sells mouth-watering handmade truffles and the Ashridge Estate is there with fantastic timber garden products. Other produce includes preserves, pies, biscuits, organic vegetables, cheeses and fruit juices. The market prides itself on being a friendly shopping experience and there is even an opportunity to sit and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee with a bacon roll.
The Market takes place on alternate Saturdays and can be found in the MarketPlace, Brook Street, Tring from 9am to 12.15pm. www.tringfarmersmarket.co.uk
Although Stevenage Farmers Market is one of the newer venues in the county, Stevenage has a long-standing history of being a market town.
The market is organised by a non-profit making committee and the aim is to educate the public away from mass-produced foods and convert them to the better taste and higher quality of food sourced locally and from smaller, specialist producers. It is held on the second Saturday of every other month and can be located in the White Lion Yard, at the rear of the White Lion Hotel in Stevenage High Street. Shoppers can expect to find an enticing selection of lovingly produced food which frequently includes wild boar, fish, honey, cider, meat, cakes and plants. www.stevenagefarmersmarket.com
The market here has been running for about eight years at the Van Hage Garden Centre so visitors can enjoy free parking. Each market has around 15 stalls that sell farm fresh and home-made produce perfect for the family dinner table. Foxholes Farm brings cooked and uncooked pork and beef to the market as well as seasonal game. Other stalls include curry sauces, cakes and breads, preserves, cheeses and fruit and vegetables.
This is a great venue to take the whole family and where children can discover more about rural methods of food production. The market opens at 9am and finishes at 1pm and takes place on the first Thursday of each month. www.vanhage.co.uk
Letchworth Farmers Market takes place on the third Saturday of the month from 9.30am to 1.30pm. In addition to the regular markets, this year the Letchworth Town Centre Partnership is holding a Food and Garden Festival on May 19 and 20 from 10am to 4pm that will take over the town centre, showcasing the best produce from the region. There will also be some talented chefs on hand to give some cookery demonstrations to inspire and entice. There will be over 30 stallholders all contributing to raising awareness of the huge benefits of buying locally. Over the two days there will also be advice on how to cut back on food waste and a display garden highlighting how to grow fruit and vegetables.
To get involved call 01462 486999. www.letchworthfoodfestival.com