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Exploring: Hildenborough Farmers' Market

PUBLISHED: 14:00 22 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:00 22 October 2018

Jennifer Inman's Church View Farm plant stall

Jennifer Inman's Church View Farm plant stall


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

An explosion of vibrant blues, reds and yellows from Jennifer Inman’s Church View Farm’s plant stall is a delightful welcome to the weekly Hildenborough Farmers’ Market. Growing cut flowers, seasonal potted plants and hanging baskets in the summer, Jennifer nurtures her plants on a smallholding in nearby Ightham.

“It’s a really friendly market, and I have lots of loyal customers. In the summer I sell sweet peas and in the winter months quince cheese. I get my quince from Allens Farm in Plaxtol, so it’s all very local,” she says.

Hildenborough is north of Tonbridge, south of Sevenoaks and west of Shipbourne, all of which have busy, successful Farmers’ Markets. It’s recognition of the hard work that the market committee, known as the Team, and their volunteers do that this market is thriving.

Running every Tuesday, it draws customers from the local towns and villages. “Because the market is open every week, our customers find it easy to fit us into their routines, often buying fish, meat, eggs, fresh fruit and veg as well as their weekly shop,” says Janet Richardson, market manager and a founding member.

The market’s 10th anniversary in June was celebrated by a visit from local resident and double Olympic gold medal winner Kelly Holmes. “Kelly’s a great supporter of the market, and is always happy to lend her support. She officially opened the market back in June 2008,” says Julie Kury, market secretary and a founding team member.

Held in the grounds and hall of St John’s Church, the market effectively has three ‘rooms’. The first is an outdoor space for plants, fish, fruit and vegetables and, in good weather tables for children’s activities. Inside is the main market hall, which leads to a popular coffee and cake area.

Plums are scarce this year so buy them when you can © Severien VitsPlums are scarce this year so buy them when you can © Severien Vits

The market is so engaged with the community that one team member has taken specialist training with the Alzheimer’s Society to support customers with early onset or full dementia.

“We’ve shared our dementia training with stallholders who now better understand how to approach and talk with customers if they feel need support,” says Julie.

The café always serves a normal coffee and a specialist brew from Daily Grind, a stallholder selling teas and coffees in the main market. This way customers get to try the coffee before buying, which introduces people to the taste of real coffee.

Family owned Winterdale Cheesemakers has a popular stall run by Carla Betts, whose cheeses include Winterdale Shaw made with milk from their herd of around 100 Friesian Holstein cows who graze on the lush meadows of Kent’s North Downs.

Find Rob Rusbridge and his mother Chrissie on the bread stall of the third-generation family bakery based in Southborough. One of the first to sign up for the market, they have only missed one in more than 10 years.

Another regular stall is run by the local Princess Christian’s Farm, a unique place where students with learning difficulties or disabilities can learn food and farming skills in a land-based setting.

KEN OCT 18 Farmers MarketKEN OCT 18 Farmers Market

Managed through a partnership with Kent County Council and Hadlow College, it produces its own pork, lamb and beef, oven-ready chickens and more than 1,000 eggs a day, which are sold at the market alongside jams and locally sourced preserves.

Other products on sale include honey, sweet treats from Lou & H’s Cakes in Leigh, home-made soaps, jams, home-cooked ham and seasonal game from Kent Field Farm. Fay Wilson sells knitted goods and raises funds from the Alzheimer’s Society knitting and selling ‘twiddle’ muffs.

Once a month the local Parish Council runs a surgery at the market and this year nominated it for the Community Award given out by the Kent Association of Local Council (KALC)– which it (deservedly) won.

Find out more

Hildenborough is a member of the Kent Farmers’ Market Association. You can visit the market every Tuesday. 9am-11am at TN11 9HT.

Pheasant breast recipePheasant breast recipe

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

What’s in season at the farmers market: October

It’s time to rediscover the delights of colder weather eating and your local Farmers’ Market is the best place to source local ingredients from those closest to the crop. Fresh fruit and vegetables have been harvested ready for you to enjoy at their best. Onions, leeks, beetroot, carrots and tomatoes are all full of flavour while the array of squashes and pumpkins offer so much more for the cook than just as lanterns for Halloween.

Root vegetables such as parsnip, swede and celeriac are all tasty roasted or mashed and perfect with new season’s game. Use them in soups, stews, curries and pickles for rich seasonal colour and taste. Hunt out wild mushrooms as perfect partners for seasonal game, while cobnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts are all ripening and great in autumn salads. It’s been a difficult year for tree fruit so search out apples and pears and try different varieties. Bramleys for cooking seem to have fared better than some so make them into chutneys and jellies to enjoy through winter. Plums are scarce so buy them when you can.

As the sea temperature drops, fish just gets better and better. Sea bass, haddock and Dover sole will be fishing well and scallops, prawns, crab, lobster and oysters make perfect autumn eating.

Recipe: pheasant breasts with lemon, thyme and chilli

Ingredients (serves 2)

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


(prep: 5 minutes plus 30 minutes marinating/cook 10 minutes)

Step 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.

Step 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.

Recipe author Mary Gwynn is a local food writer. She writes 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 also Chair of Penshurst Farmers Market

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