Top five farmers’ markets

Rosie Daniel explores what our farmers' markets have to offer

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What makes the produce you buy from farmers’ markets so different from items you purchase at the supermarket? Well for a start stringent rules apply to every stallholder. The food for sale must be absolutely local, the rules state that it must come from the same county or from within a 30-50 mile radius. Buying at these markets reduces food miles, the product is fresher and the quality is therefore higher. Secondly, farmers’ markets cut out the middleman, when you buy produce from the stallholder you know that they are selling you a steak from an animal that they personally reared. Lastly, attending these markets is more agreeable than the weekly trudge to the supermarket, there’s a certain feeling of kinship that’s enhanced by the knowledge that you’re putting money back into local communities.

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1. Edinburgh, Scotland
This market is hard to beat, the location at the base of the castle creates an old world atmosphere that is the perfect backdrop for selling wild boar, venison, wholesome cheeses, hedgerow wines and mead. The Crisp Hut even cooks real potato chips while you wait, and The Rose Street Quartet plays lively classical music and jazz.

2. Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire
Haverfordwest market is lively and vibrant. It has been established for many years with regular traders. At this market you’ll find beef, lamb, pork, and bacon from traders that dry cure the meat themselves. The bacon has been described as so dense and flavoursome that applying ketchup would be a crime and the trout a reprimand to every flavourless fish in the freezer section. The market has been commended for its excellent food, friendly producers, lively atmosphere, an awareness of environmental issues, and a commitment to the local community.

3. Tavistock, Devon
Tavistock is a traditional market town that instantly makes you feel a part of history as you arrive to buy your goods. Held in front of the impressive crenellated Town Hall the market sells a remarkably diverse catalog of produce. Beef, cheese and an array of homemade pies are mixed with the more exotic buffalo steaks, emu eggs and ostrich meat. To get a true taste of the area you must purchase some traditional West Country cider. Accompanying this eclectic collection is a jazz band, harpist and silver band.

4. Hexham, Northumberland
Hexham market takes place under the shadow of the beautiful Hexham Abbey. This lively market has an excellent turn out and often you’ll have the good fortune to be entertained by street performers whilst you shop. All produce has been homemade with emphasis on quality, care and flavour. As well as delicious meats, vegetables and pickles there are also hand made soaps and natural skin care products.

5. Chepstow, Monmouthshire
Chepstow market was started in 2001 to give local farmers the chance to sell their fares during the foot and mouth crisis, since then it has come on leaps and bounds and now attracts over six hundred visitors on market day. It sells Welsh black beef and cheeses that you won’t find elsewhere, along with homemade cakes and chocolates, organic vegetables and an array of preserves.

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