Monday, 26 October 2009

Happy Birthday Morpeth Farmers’ Market!

Morpeth Farmers’ Market celebrates its 10th Anniversary on Saturday 7th November.

There’ll be a real party atmosphere on the market with competitions, buskers and a birthday cake provide by Country Markets (aka the WI). And there’ll be a chef doing demos throughout the morning using what ingredients he can cadge from the market stalls – a bit like a live version of ‘Ready Steady Cook’.

And the Barnacre alpacas will be back.

It’s hard to imagine it’s been going so long. I’d been a councillor for just six months when Castle Morpeth BC first started the Farmers’ Market in November ’99. And apart from a five month gap during the foot & mouth crisis, missing one market on the day after the 2008 flood and the occasional January market date that was too near New Year - it hasn’t missed very many months.

Initially it was held in the Town Hall, then after refurbishment of the Morpeth Market Place it was split between the Town Hall and the Market Place. Then in October last year, it was switched from a Sunday to a Saturday and is now located entirely on the Market Place. And it is still thriving when other farmers’ markets are in a bit of a decline.

I think a lot of people don’t realise just how lucky Morpeth is in still having locally owned shops. These have always sold local produce, but I think the farmers’ market has raised an awareness and appreciation of local food with a wider public.

In fact, a number of businesses – including Doddington Dairy Ice Cream and Northumberland Cheese Co – which started selling through farmers’ markets are now supplying the local shops, and in some instances supermarkets – so the wheel has come full circle in a sense.

And several producers from the farmers’ market – like Jimmy Bell and Janet Lawlor – are now selling at the Wednesday Charter Market too – which I think is part of the reason why that is flourishing so much, against national trends.

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