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Exploring: Aylesford Farmers Market

PUBLISHED: 10:02 10 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:02 10 July 2018

Great Preservations offers award-winning marmalades, jams and chutneys made by Katherine-Foster Smith from her home in Tonbridge (photo: Severien Vits)

Great Preservations offers award-winning marmalades, jams and chutneys made by Katherine-Foster Smith from her home in Tonbridge (photo: Severien Vits)


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

Follow the ‘Farmers’ Market this way’ signs through the twisting streets of historic Aylesford and you’ll arrive at a haven of tranquillity. A sister to Kent’s largest market at Tonbridge, Aylesford market is hosted in the grounds of The Friars - Aylesford Priory – home to an ancient religious house of the Order of Carmelites dating back to the 13th century.

When the weather is fine and the ground dry the 30 or so stalls gather on a field, in a horseshoe shape with a cooking demonstration kitchen at one end, offering a peaceful, rural location. When wet weather forces a change in plan the market regroups in an adjacent car park.

Dog friendly and with plenty of accessible, free parking, the market has access to toilet facilities in a nearby café, which is part of the Priory. Other attractions include a working pottery, tearooms and book and gift shop.

Long-time stallholder Jo Jeffries from Naked & Ready sells a tempting range of hand-made scotch eggs with flavours such as chorizo or black pudding; Old Spot pork pies, and tubs of pâtés including popular smoked mackerel and horseradish.

Mackerel and scallops from Arcade Fisheries (photo: Severien Vits)Mackerel and scallops from Arcade Fisheries (photo: Severien Vits)

Paul Saxby runs Arcade Fisheries and, like Jo, has been coming to Aylesford since the market opened six years ago. “One of our best sellers here is dressed crab. We prep our shellfish and fish and daily and can offer our customers the freshest seafood. It’s the quality that counts,” he says.

Kent is rightly famous for its apple orchards and growing reputation for artisan cider. Brenda and Kevin Payne from Pine Trees Farm sell their produce under the Dudda’s Tun brand, produced by their son Robert. Dudda’s Tun produces farm-made cider and perry from 100 per cent fresh-pressed English apples and pears.

Its stall showcases heritage apple varieties such as Crimson Crisp, Red Price and Bramleys, tempting passers-by who often leave with a bottle of pressed juice, or perhaps a bag apples such as Worcester, Cox Orange Pippin, Egremont Russet or Discovery. Pear varieties include Conference, Doyenne Du Comice and Concorde.

Several stalls offer cooked food that can be enjoyed in the covered seating area in front of the cooking demo stage. A popular hot food seller is Victoria Minnis who runs the Little Brittany crêpe stall offering both savoury and sweet crêpes with fillings ranging from goat’s cheese and sweet chutney to chocolate spread or the classic lemon juice and sugar.

Roasted vegetables in filoRoasted vegetables in filo

A member of Produced in Kent, Victoria is proud that she sources many of her ingredients from fellow stallholders including Pine Trees Farm and Tonbridge-based Great Preservations for its jams and marmalades.

Other producers include Thomas Cookie, maker of artisan cookies with a range of sweet treats such as salted caramel and pecan; pistachio, dark chocolate and smoked sea salt, and the classic triple chocolate chunk. Tom and his team also make s’mores, a traditional night-time campfire treat popular in North America made by sandwiching marshmallow and a layer of chocolate between two pieces of biscuits.

Aylesford Farmers’ Market attracts customers from across the region including the Medway Towns, Maidstone and the surrounding villages and small towns.

What’s in season at the Farmers Market: July

Bob Taylor is Vice Chairman of Kent Farmers’ Market Association, manager of Shipbourne Farmers’ Market, a board member of the National Association of Farm Shops and Farmers’ Markets and a member of the Tonbridge Town Team

Eating in July is all about keeping it simple as the glorious harvest of locally produced ingredients reaches a peak that runs until September.

Don’t miss tender broad beans, fresh green peas, radishes, beetroot, spring onions, spinach, and of course, new potatoes. Cucumbers, beans (both French and runner) and courgettes should be there alongside all kinds of salad leaves and bunches of fresh herbs.

Strawberries, raspberries and currants are all at their best now. And don’t miss out on cherries as the season is now in full swing and Kentish cherries are justifiably world famous. This is the month for jam makers and just a few jars are incredibly satisfying to produce in your home kitchen, taste marvellous and make wonderful gifts.

Grass-fed summer lamb is now at its finest and, as a more fatty meat than some, it is ideal for the barbecue. For seafood fans midsummer is a great time to enjoy crab; all you need to make a feast is to serve dressed crab with buttered new potatoes and home-mademayonnaise, if possible.

Mackerel is the prefect summer fish, bought fresh from the market and cooked the same day to enjoy at its very best. Try it barbecued, griddled or marinated in lime juice and chilli to slice and serve raw.

Food & Drink Awards 2018 menu: roasted vegetable in filo


1 yellow courgette

1 green courgette

1 parsnip

1 fennel bulb

1 leek

400g wild mushrooms

15g whole black summer truffles

100ml double cream

Filo pastry

100g butter

2-3 sprigs of tarragon

50ml dry white wine


A tempting recipe from this year’s Food & Drink Awards menu by Michelle Rayner, head chef at the Ashford International Hotel

Pre heat oven to 170ºC

Melt the butter, cut the filo pastry into six equal 10cm squares (you will need approx five squares per tartlet) using a ramekin as a mould for the tartlet base. Place the ramekin upside down on a baking tray, coat the bottom and outside edges with the melted butter and place the squares of pastry on the bottom of the ramekin. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool slightly before gently removing

For the filling, peel the vegetables lengthways to create ribbons, finely slice bulb of fennel, lightly drizzle with olive oil and season. Mix together and spread out the vegetables on a baking tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes alongside the filo

Heat a small frying pan, add the remainder of the melted butter and sweat down an inch of the white of the leek, chopped finely, add the wild mushrooms and sauté quickly in the pan

Add the white wine and reduce by half, add the cream and simmer until the sauce is thick and creamy, then finish with chopped tarragon, shaved truffles and seasoning to taste.

Assemble the dish by placing the roasted vegetables in the bottom of the tartlet case and placing some of the wild mushroom compote on top. Serve with purple roasted potatoes or Jersey royals.

Find out more

Aylesford is a member of the Kent Farmers’ Market Association. You can visit the market on the third Sunday of the month, 9.30am - 1.30pm

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