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Farmers’ market of the month: Capel-le-Ferne

PUBLISHED: 13:10 17 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:10 17 October 2017

Kevin Kay of Bessborough Farms (photo: Bruce McMichael)

Kevin Kay of Bessborough Farms (photo: Bruce McMichael)

Archant

Working with Kent Farmers’ Market Association, we put a different market in the spotlight each month. October’s is Capel-le-Ferne

If there is one word that sums up the Farmers’ Market at Capel-le-Ferne, it’s community. Running for nearly 15 years in the village hall, Capel-le-Ferne is a popular, cliff-top village just outside the port of Folkestone, with a weekly market offering fresh, local produce served with home-baked cakes and welcoming cups of tea and coffee.

Opened in April 2003, the market is a non-profit making charity and every penny raised from these markets goes back into the maintenance of the village hall.

Run by volunteers, the market won the Kent Technology and Enterprise Award just one year after opening.

Faced with closure in 2016, stallholders banded together to keep the market alive. It’s now thriving again, and offers the residents and visitors from the surrounding caravan parks can stock up on fresh produce, baked goods, plants and crafts.

Regular customer Frank from the Medway Towns has been visiting the market at Capel-le-Ferne from its early days. “Some motorcycling friends and I came across the market just after it opened and I have coming here ever since. I buy some groceries and catch up with friends. It’s a very welcoming market and I rarely miss one.”

The number and type of stalls varies each week; some attend weekly, others fortnightly or even seasonally with guest stalls run by specialist producers.

December is a particularly busy time, says founder member Cherry Leppard, who although now retired from the organising committee, still visits weekly.

Market manager and stallholder Deborah Ovenden sells meat produced from her family farm and dairy foods including cheese, milk and butter sourced from other local producers.

Located on Romney Marsh, Deborah’s Marsh Produce’s flavoured and spiced range of pork sausages includes toffee apple for Halloween; strawberry and Pimm’s (Wimbledon tennis) and pea and mint for the summer. Another favourite is her Popeye, made up of spinach, garlic, lemon and bacon.

Most stalls are located inside the hall, where Kevin Kay from Bessborough Farms’ array of heritage Kentish fruits –including the rare Oullins Golden Gage plum – creates an enticing entry point.

Kevin says: “Our October markets will see the arrival of classic English favourites Laxton Fortune, Cox and Bramley, while Conference and Comice pears are also available.”

Kevin’s farm also sells a range of plums, pears and soft fruits alongside apple juice and Bessborough’s range of jams and chutneys.

A local nursery sells flowers and plants stall has a regular pitch in the car park, contributing to a colourful market welcome with fuchsias, marigolds, pansies as well as hanging baskets cut flowers and at Christmas, decorative blooms.

Running along side the Farmers’ Market is a craft fair and a postal service, a really popular addition for this community without a post office and many customers without easy access to transport to take them into Folkestone.

Rachel Chandler offers the postal service alongside her range of home-made cards. Other craft stall holders include Sylvia Upchurch, who makes colourfully collaged table placements, handbags and shopping baskets, and Joanne Laughton, who sells candles, cards and box-framed pictures including carved family trees.

Residents, visitors and the many tourists who pass through the village en route to France or who are staying in one of the local camping and caravan sites and looking for picnic treats, perhaps for a visit to the nearby Battle of Britain Memorial, are always happy to pop into the market for tasty, home-grown and home-made supplies and friendly conversation.

Capel-Le-Ferne is a member of the Kent Farmers’ Market Association and you can visit the market every Tuesday from 9am to 2pm. To find your local Farmers’ Market, log on to www.kfma.org.uk to find out more

What’s in season at the farmers market: October

Mary Gwynn is a local author and food writer. She writes regularly for Waitrose Weekend newspaper and has published several cookery books, including The WI Cookbook: The First 100 Years and The Busy Mum’s Cookbook. She is on the committee of Penshurst Farmers Market.

Here in the Garden of England it’s that time of year when all the finest apples and dessert pears for which this area is justly famous are at their peak.

It should be a great season so make sure you try as many local varieties as possible, whether for eating with local cheeses or cooking into pies, puddings and preserves.

The changing season and the return to school herald a longing for richer, more comforting meat dishes and it’s the start of the game season with pheasant appearing once again at the market.

It’s a personal favourite and I use it as I would a chicken – cubed breast meat works perfectly in curries, stir fries or just marinate the whole breasts and cook on the griddle, as shown in the recipe below.

Modern game is no longer tough, strong-flavoured meat that needs long cooking. Lean and tender, it suits quick cooking methods such as frying and grilling.

Fish and seafood are plentiful this month and very reasonably priced. With an ‘r’ back in the month, it’s the start of the native oyster season, and mussels are also good and plentiful. Sea bass, skate (or ray), plaice, turbot, cod and haddock are all good as the seas get colder towards the equinox.

Winter squashes and pumpkins are starting to arrive and come in an amazing array of shapes and sizes all with different flavours and textures – try in soups, curries, gratins and risottos. As the weather turns wet look out for the appearance of wild mushrooms, and search out local cobnuts and walnuts.

Seasonal recipe:

Pheasant breasts with lemon, thyme and chilli

More game dealers are selling boned pheasant breasts which make a lovely simple supper dish that cooks in minutes. This is my favourite way of cooking them and the way I tend to prepare pheasant at the annual Game Day that takes place at Penshurst Market every November. This method of cooking also works just as well with chicken

Serves 2

Preparation time 5 minutes plus 30 minutes marinating, cooking time 10 minutes

2 pheasant breasts, skin on or off

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon, thickly sliced

3 -4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 red chilli, seeded and chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Place the pheasant breasts in a sealable plastic bag. Add the oil, lemon slices, thyme sprigs, chilli and plenty of seasoning and rub the bag sides to coat the pheasant meat thoroughly in the marinade. Leave in the fridge for half an hour or longer.

2 Heat a griddle pan or frying pan until smoking hot then add the pheasant and cook for 8-10 minutes turning once until browned and cooked through so the juices run clear from the meat. Transfer to a board and cover loosely and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Add the lemon slices to the pan and cook quickly on both sides over a high heat until charred. Serve with the pheasant. I serve them with oven-cooked sweet potato wedges and a big rocket or watercress salad.

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