Focus on Horsmonden Farmers’ Market

PUBLISHED: 13:24 14 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:00 20 February 2013

Roger Couchman

Roger Couchman

Horsmonden Farmers' Market has been running fortnightly since May 2006, switching between the village green in summer and the village hall in winter. It is managed by friends who came up with the idea over a meal out...

Horsmonden Farmers' Market has been running fortnightly since May 2006, switching between the village green in summer and the village hall in winter. It is managed by friends who came up with the idea over a meal out in a local restaurant. They have highly complementary backgrounds.

Liz Taylor has a Masters degree from Wye College and has worked in environmental education; Pippa Ankjaer has run her own business and Mary Moffat has senior marketing experience.

Liz says: "The market is firmly embedded in the community. The refreshment stall provides a place for shoppers to gather and catch up, and since it is run by local charities, it helps with fundraising projects too. The village school also visits the market to help children develop a closer understanding of farming and food."

One of the stallholders is Roger Couchman from Chun Farm (above). Roger's grandfather had grown apples and plums on the farm, but in 1939 he and his family moved out. When the farm went on sale in the 1970s, Roger, a trained horticulturalist, bought it back. He used to sell his crops to wholesalers and a few local shops, but with only eight acres, it was difficult to make a living.

However, he recognised the opportunity Farmers' Markets offered when they started in Kent and he was one of the original stallholders at Wye market, Kent's first.

Roger also formalised his reluctance to use any chemicals by becoming accredited by the Soil Association. Now the extra margin he earns by selling direct to shoppers means he can focus on what he loves: organic market gardening. In addition to a wide range of unusual salad leaves, he grows winter vegetables, herbs, aubergines, melons, peppers, peas and beans.

Roger planted 30 walnut trees seven years ago, which will start shortly to produce a harvest to supplement his existing cobnuts, which he particularly enjoys growing because of their Kentish connections.

Horsmonden Farmers' Market is held from 9am to 12 noon on alternate Fridays, which in June means 12 and 26 June. Winter markets in the Village Hall, Back Lane; Summer markets on the Village Green, usually from May onwards. Roger Couchman can be found at the following Farmers' Markets: Horsmonden, Hildenborough, Shipbourne, Tunbridge Wells (Town Hall), Wye and Yalding, although he attends fewer in winter.

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