As you know, Keep it in Kent is all about encouraging local residents and business to change their spending habits - and part of that includes taking the opportunity to support their local farmers markets and farm shops when they can. As soon as you visit a farmers market, you are aware of the benefits: the produce is so fresh and wholesome, and often at surprisingly reasonable prices. It's got to be a win-win!
Over the past 18 months since we started the Keep it in Kent campaign, we've met some remarkable people who have dedicated themselves to running their local farmers markets. Very often it's not for any significant personal financial gain, but for the pure love of it, and the belief in the importance of supporting local producers.
We're delighted that Sandra Woodfall has contributed to our community blog, by giving us an insight into how she started "My Farmers Market Ltd" which currently runs markets in Gravesend, Dartford, West Malling, Chislehurst and Hall Place, Bexley:
"Back in the year 1900 and frozen to death and before farmers markets were as numerous as they are today, we knew that living In The Garden of England had some great produce on offer (in addition the national fruit collection held in Brogdale.) Our problem was, how could we purchase this great Kentish produce and how could we make it more available to the wider public?
The answer became obvious.... Run a farmers market!
At that time (actually in 2000) I worked for Medway Council developing schemes around local agenda 21, which included projects to encourage social, economic and environmental activities. Farmers markets ticked all the right boxes. The first farmers market we ran was Rochester farmers market which is still operating today. We set up our small business My Farmers Market Limited when I left Medway council and we wanted to continue supporting small local producers and businesses, years later we are still doing this. During the years we have met some wonderful local producers who have moved through the farmers markets and have gone on to supply big shops such as Waitrose - and others who have opened their own shops too.
Our criteria with the farmers markets follows national guidelines. The person selling the product should be involved in the production of the item and the business be within a specified distance of where the farmers market takes place. The stallholders are very knowledgeable about the products they sell and love talking about the product too. For example giving recipe tips etc. Many people are still confused by the term farmers markets. Our ethos is that if the person has been involved in growing, brewing, fishing, cooking or making the item that they are eligible to participate in our farmers markets. This means that seasonal items are available too...
Many thanks to Sandra Woodfall from My Farmers Market Limited for contributing to our "Mad About Kent" community blog!
"If like us you would like to buy great Kent produce or you would like to know more about farmers markets we would be pleased to hear from you. We are pleased to be members of keep it in Kent and for having the opportunity to work with other businesses in Kent." Sandra and Brian Woodfall
You can find out more about the various markets run by Sandra and Brian at: myfarmersmarket.co.uk including the dates and the different producers that you'll be able to find at each one.