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Capital is UK’s Best Farmers’ Market 2006-11-23

Posted by clype in Articles of Interest, Health, Scotland.
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You may consider it an early start to get to the farmers’ market for 09:00, but the next time you visit to pick up your organic sausages, spare a thought for the farmers who are already halfway through their working day.

Ms.Nichola Fletcher, co-founder of the venison producer ”Fletcher of Auchtermuchty, in Fife, begins every Saturday with a 05:00 pie collection from a local bakery, before travelling to Edinburgh to set up her stall. But her sleep deprivation — and that of 60 other producers — has been marked by UK-wide recognition.

”Country Life magazine has named Edinburgh as Britain’s favourite farmers’ market, it was revealed yesterday. The capital was shortlisted by a public vote along with five other UK markets, before the eventual winner was decided by the magazine’s panel of expert judges, including Ms.Clarissa Dickson Wright and Mr.Tom Parker Bowles.

Country Life’s” Editor Mr.Mark Hedges said the Edinburgh market “represents the best that Britain has to offer”.

Ms.Clarissa Dickson Wright said the capital beat the competition thanks to its progressive character.

‘The competition was certainly strong, but Edinburgh was named Britain’s favourite … because it really represents the future of farmers’ markets in Britain,’ she said.

‘All produce is sourced from within a 50-mile radius — quite some feat for a capital city — and includes traditional farmers’ market fare, as well as specialist products and services such as the infamous Porridge Bar.

‘Consumers [can] buy everything that they need from local producers in a community environment.’

The market has become increasingly popular since opening in 2000. Having started as a monthly event, it is now the only Scottish market to be held every Saturday, and, despite farmers’ concerns that public interest would wane, its popularity has continued to soar.

About 6 000 people visit the market every week, and recent economic impact figures show that it adds 1.16 million GBP to the rural economy and 800 000 GBP to the city centre’s economy each year.

That boost comes as welcome relief to those farmers excluded from big subsidies and, although the market is not the most lucrative way for farmers to make a living, Ms.Fletcher insists it remains one of the highlights of the working week.

‘Some people do find it hard to sell at market as well as running their farm, and I have seen young families have to pull out in order to have some kind of life with their children at the weekend,’ she said.

‘But the market is one of the most rewarding aspects of our job. It is fantastic to get to know our regular customers and to feel some camaraderie with other farmers in the industry.

‘It’s a long day and can be hard, but we certainly like the traditional feel of selling directly, with no middlemen.’

Ms Fletcher — who began business in 1973 — said the beauty of the market was the face-to-face contact with customers, and the fact that people could see exactly what they were buying.

‘I could never justify the qualitative compromises required for us to start selling commercially to large supermarkets,’ she said.

‘We would no longer be able to get our produce on the market as freshly as we do now, and if you’re in the food industry it is that level of service which drives your satisfaction.’

Edinburgh has also been lauded by ‘The National Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association’ (‘FARMA’). Mr.Ian Broadfoot, from ‘Edinburgh City Centre Management’ (ECCM), which organises the market, said of the latest award:

‘All at “ECCM” are thrilled to receive this tremendous accolade. Coming as it does on the back of news that we have also been voted “FARMA’s” farmers’ market of the year 2007, the “Country Life” award sets the seal on a great year for the market.’

LAYING OUT THEIR STALLS FOR FINEST SPECIALITY PRODUCE

ABERDEEN: Located on Belmont Street, Aberdeen Country Fair takes place monthly and attracts 30,000 visitors. It was voted the best farmers’ market in Scotland by Observer Food Monthly magazine in 2004. Aberdeen Angus beef, and fish landed at Aberdeen and Peterhead harbours, are favourite buys. www.aberdeencountryfair.co.uk

EDINBURGH: The capital’s award-winning market takes place every Saturday on Castle Terrace.With 44 stalls offering homegrown produce from within a 50-mile radius, it is widely acknowledged as Scotland’s premier market. Specialities include wild boar, venison, ostrich, wild game and water buffalo, organic beer, gourmet chocolate and preserves. www.edinburghfarmersmarket.com

AYR: The farmers’ market in Ayr was one of the first in Scotland, and in 2003 it was the outright winner of the Scottish Tourism Thistle Award for Best Small Business Marketing Initiative. Grass-reared Ayrshire lamb, beef, pork and venison are on offer, plus the famous cow, goat and ewes’ cheeses from Dunlop. The market runs on the first Saturday of the month, except in January. www.ayrshirefarmersmarket.co.uk

PAISLEY: In the newly pedestrianised County Square, some 30 producers bring their produce to Paisley farmers’ market, recognised by BBC Good Food magazine as one of the best in the UK. Featured produce includes Ayrshire hill lamb, Limousin steaks and West Coast seafood. Cookery demonstrations by leading chefs such as Nick Nairn are a regular feature. www.ayrshirefarmersmarket.co.uk

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