Kent Farmers' Market of the month – Challock
PUBLISHED: 15:48 19 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 20 February 2013
Strong community roots distinguish Challock Farmers' Market , which celebrates its first anniversary this month
Kents Farmers Markets fought off the recession reassuringly well, with nine new markets opening in the last 18 months. We put this down to their strong community roots, as epitomised by Challock Farmers Market, which celebrates its first anniversary this month.
Local residents and managers Pauline Hickson and Rosemary Jordan have established close links between the market and primary school, where the children are planning to grow their own vegetables to sell at the market later this year. It has also become a regular social event for the village.
However, markets must be commercially successful too in providing viable outlets for local producers. Alastair Barten, a fourth-generation farmer, sells fruit and vegetables at Challock. A pioneer in selling direct, opening a farm shop in 1977 at his Mallard Farm in Waterham, he combines old-fashioned and modern rotation, cultivation and irrigation techniques, which consequently reduces intensity, allowing him to cut down on chemical use.
Marshys Munchies, another stall, is a family affair. Sisters Sue and Dawn are building a business around their delicious cakes, biscuits and savouries which use local eggs and seasonal fruit. They sell at Farmers Markets and ftes, supply Kent Wildlife Trust tea rooms and offer buffets for family gatherings.
Challock Farmers Market is open on the first and third Fridays of each month from 1 to 4pm at Challock Memorial Hall, Blind lane, Challock TN25 4AU
Next month: West Malling
Pick of the months produce
Purple sprouting broccoli
Markets aid food sustainability
As food sustainability and food security again hits the top of the Governments agenda, following its recent Food 2030 report, Kent Farmers Market Association has reported record attendance and buoyant demand for local produce in the run up to Christmas its 40 Farmers Markets.
The strength of trading at Kents Farmers Markets in the lead-up to the festive period was particular strong evidence of consumers increasing preference to shop locally and source locally grown produce and products, and neither the difficult weather conditions nor a challenging economic climate was enough to dampen demand.
The report concluded that government and industry needed to: Encourage the further development of sustainable Farmers Marketsto provide farmers and producers with a way to add value to their product and meet consumer demand for more regional and local food and to find alternative routes to market for that produce.
Shipbourne Farmers Market (pictured), was just one of the markets in Kent to break previous attendance records. Shortlisted in the BBC Food and Farming Awards and voted one of the top 12 (out of 600 UK Farmers Markets) in 2009 by The Times, Shipbourne reported its biggest attendance during 2009.
Bob Taylor, market manager at Shipbourne, said: We achieved a record attendance for 2009 for our Christmas Farmers Market despite the dreadful weather. People were using the market as their main pre-cursor to Christmas. We had 50 turkeys pre-ordered and shoppers were able to buy virtually everything they needed for the festive period fresh and from local producers from fresh fruits and vegetables, through game and fish, to speciality breads and cakes.
Penshurst Farmers Market reported over 1,000 visitors to its December market and the majority used the event as their key pre-cursor to Christmas stocking up on a full range of Christmas products, with around 60 customers pre-booking their Christmas turkeys and meat. One stallholder confirmed he had enjoyed the best market in four and a half years and that his takings were up by one third.