Farmers Market: Passer by or active customer?
Its cold, but the sky is an unblemished blue and people are wandering about their business in the town on this crisp, sunny Saturday morning. There is an oddly buoyant atmosphere in the streets, with shoppers woolbound by scarf and glove, clutching bags, emerging from shops with talk of lingering sales. Whilst Knutsford boasts a range of well polished chain stores, galleries, gift shops and restaurants, most residents, whether transient or permanent, are still blissfully unaware of the existence of the monthly Farmers market.
Tucked away behind the almost deserted Regent Street development is the bustling once-a-month farmers market. Although in recent times the notion of farmers markets have become more of a romantic ideal to locals or even as a token gesture to the localised agricultural workforce, these markets were once the essential connective economy between town and the country, where the traders and locals bought produce, and the farmers bought equipment.
Braces of wildfowl swinging gently in the breeze are no longer features of the modern farmers market but instead have been replaced by cakes, jams & preserves, specialty sausages or pies and oddly, olives. Over the past seven years there has been a resurgence of rural markets, and as agricultural business continues to be pressurised, the market acts as bespoke food outlets delivering a true tasting approach to food shopping.
Whilst comment could easily be passed regarding the olive seller and fish mongers produce origin, most of the stall holders are true to their cause and offer great hand crafted products. In most cases traders stock is made on the farm or at other rural locations leaving no doubt as to the authenticity of the produce through its honest presentation. It serves as a poignant reminder as to how much of a “pre-packed” society we have become and how we choose to buy food produce based on its visual appeal.
We asked one stall holder about how today’s market had fared “Its not been too bad today but there are a few stalls that didn’t make it,” we asked if it was due to the current financial climate but the experienced trader told us that ” it’s not the fact that farmers don’t want to turn up, it’s just that it needs promoting more and then more traders will come.” XXX from The Lomber Hey Farm sells sausages made from regional produce, and with some experimental ingredients, the Lomber Sausage collection always attracts attention.
She drew a valuable comparison between the privately run and the council run markets, on the promotional and locailised marketing activity “Its cheap here to setup and sell once you have a stall, but people need to know about it at least five days before it’s actually here, it gives people the chance to stick it in the diary”
“Most other towns put banners over the main streets and roads days in advance, not on the day or right next to the market its self, i think people know that its market day before they see the banner.”
Although a small market, it is packed with energy and commitment from the stallholders, both in product creation and tenacity to sell in any weather. There is an small army of loyal supporters seeking out the specialist sausages or Abbey Hey’s set and runny honey, a testimony to excellent bee husbandry. Supporting this market and its providors adds credible value to Knutsford, not just by drawing others from outside but by providing worthwhile cultural assets that can be built upon. So lets make an effort to support it. The market starts at about 8:30am and is open until 1pm on the first Saturday of every month with the execption of Janurary.Remember to visit the article gallery at the top left of the article to see the delights of the market.