6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Kent Life today click here

Exploring: Offham Farmers Market

PUBLISHED: 10:00 26 June 2018

Lou Simpson and Pichard Pelton of Spadework with some fresh carrots grown on site

Lou Simpson and Pichard Pelton of Spadework with some fresh carrots grown on site


Working with Kent Farmers’ Market Association, we put a different market in the spotlight each month

Once a month around 25 stalls pitch up at Spadework, the dynamic charity based in the west of Kent, creating a thriving Farmers’ Market full of seasonal food, drink and good company.

Based on a seven-acre site, Spadework is an extraordinary charity offering work experience and life skills to the trainees, adults with learning and other disabilities in a rural, commercial environment. Trainees work on site in the bustling Kitchen Café, farm shop, market garden and commercial plant greenhouses.

The charity opened its doors in 1984 and this year won the Taste of Kent Countryside Community Award, the first time it had been presented.

“Winning the Kent Countryside Community Award is a fantastic recognition of the work we and the trainees are doing here,” says Spadework’s general manager Kris Healey.

Even as six-year-old local boy, Kris has wanted to be part of the Spadework Community and after a successful career in sales, human resources and management he joined the charity in 2017.

An equally proud Farmers’ Market manager, Richard Pelton, who joined the charity some six years ago after a successful career as a fruit and veg wholesaler in London, adds: “Our trainees are involved in all aspects of life here at Spadework. They grow the plants that are sold in the Garden Centre, and produce the fruit and vegetables or sold in the farm shop or served in the café”.

Spadework provides life skills, training and work experience for more than 90 people with learning and other disabilities and is based in the village of Offham, just west of West Malling.

Trainees attend Spadework during the week for perhaps one day or even close to full time. In 2017, the trainees notched up more than 71,000 hours of structured, managed time contributing to the development and growth of the charity, its gardens, café and shop and commercial plant nursery, and ultimately its Farmers’ Market.

“Our market runs from March to December on the second Saturday of the month with a special summer market running in June and a Christmas market in December,” says market manager Richard, who also oversees the farm shop and café. The Farmers’ Market first opened in September 2012.

Vegetables and herbs grown on site are sold on a stall at the Farmers’ Market, in the farmshop and in the café in dishes such as quiches, vegan breakfasts and cream of cauliflower soups.

“Local restaurants including The Swan in nearby West Malling buy our vegetables and we love using them on our menu in the café,” adds Richard. Any veg grown on site and not sold at the markets or shop are quickly turned into delicious meals and cakes and served in the café.

This June the charity is hosting a Vegan Festival organised by regular Farmers’ Market stallholder Jane Apps of The Fat Carrot, who says: “Attending Offham Farmers’ Market is always a fun, enjoyable time. We have lots of loyal customers and there’s always a great atmosphere. We never quite sure what’s going to be the best seller at any market, but in March our nut roasts sold out very quickly!”

Being able to support the charity as well is also a bonus, says Zoë Allcorn of stallholder Precious Porkers. “We always look forward to being part of the market. It’s well organised, friendly and it’s great to be able to support the work Spadework does at the same time,” says Zoë, who alongside husband Gary sells hot and cold sausages, burgers and meat from sourced from their small herd of pedigree Berkshire pigs.

David Gall, from Staplehurst-based St Apple Hurst coffee roasters agrees: “It’s great being able to support the charity through the market. And having a thriving garden centre on site brings in a lot of people, many of who visit both the market and garden centre.” David roasts his coffee beans in Staplehurst and includes one mix, known as Kentish Dragon, that consists of a subtle mix of Ethiopian and Vietnamese beans.

Other regulars at the market include Laura Barber from Sevenoaks Candles and Kathy Foster-Smith from Tonbridge who sells award-winning jams, marmalade and pickles through her Great Preservations company.

Each month the market welcomes an outside charity and stalls from Kent Wildlife Trust or the local hospice have raised the profile of their work through having a presence at the market.

Lou Simpson, who manages the cold frames in Spadework’s market garden, sets up a stall at the market to sell produce grown on site. Produce is mainly veg with some soft fruit, but always reflects the seasons.

For example, by March Brussels sprouts that have overgrown and burst out of their tight buds are described and sold as ‘Flower Sprouts’.

“These flower sprouts are sweeter than the sprouts we get in the winter months as the sun’s heat can get inside the bud. Cook them as you would a normal sprout, but for a shorter time” says Lou.

She also combines fresh herbs such as orange and lemon thyme, fennel and rosemary, wrapped in a cone, tied with a colourful bow and branded as them Gin Botanicals.

Find out more

Offham is a member of the Kent Farmers’ Market Association and you can visit the market on the second Saturday of each month, 10am-1pm. The Summer Fair in June is open until 4pm and the Christmas Market in December runs until 3pm.

Find your local market at www.kfma.org.uk


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Kent Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Kent Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Kent Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

With the same growing conditions as those in the Champagne region of France, Kent is at the heart of the UK’s wine-growing industry

Read more
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Working with Kent Farmers’ Market Association, we put different markets in the spotlight. This time: Aylesford

Read more
July 2018

Back at the very top of its game, the Hythe Imperial effortlessly blends the best of both modern and traditional

Read more
July 2018

Working with Kent Farmers’ Market Association, we put a different market in the spotlight each month

Read more
May 2018
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

There’s nothing like finding a quiet spot in a beer garden with the sound of a river running along beside you. We have picked 10 places to do just that

Read more
Monday, June 18, 2018

This recipe is Andy’s home-made Cajun ketchup, the ultimate sauce for your meats when barbecuing. Enjoy!

Read more
June 2018
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

If you’re keen to explore when the 18th-century equivalents of the Krays held sway, read on and explore some of Kent’s evil history

Read more

Now under new ownership, The George and Dragon in Sandwich is already standing out as a future star, with passion, drive and talent in abundance in the kitchen

Read more
June 2018
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Enjoy a delicious lunch after one of these countryside strolls. Kent Life suggests five great pub walks in Kent

Read more

Working with Kent Farmers’ Market Association, we put a different market in the spotlight each month. This month, Cliftonville!

Read more
June 2018
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Kent Life Food & Drink awards 2016. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Kent's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Search For a Car In Your Area

Find a used Car

Property Search