Issue 217
July/August 2021

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Jul 29, 2021

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ArtWork Newspaper Issue 217
July/August 2021 (6.15MB)

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Farmers' Market leader

Frances Anderson charts the progress of Edinburgh's pioneering Farmers' Market over its 20 year life to date

NOW CELEBRATING two decades of success, Edinburgh's Farmers' Market continues to flourish. Held every Saturday on Castle Terrace, against the dramatic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the market sells some of the best local produce around.

Back in 2000, Edinburgh City Council instigated the first farmers' market in the city centre, with the aim of providing an outlet for local farms providing sustainable and locally sourced products while also supporting artisans and local businesses offering creativity and sustainability. Fast forward two decades, and this award-winning market is still going strong.

With up to 50 specialist suppliers, the majority of stallholders are primary producers, growing what they sell. There's beef, pork, lamb and game, seafood, free-range eggs, cheese, milk and dairy, seasonal fruit & vegetables, bread, honey, chillies and plants, as well as specialities including organic beer, liqueurs, Scottish cider, chocolates and chutneys – everything for a complete weekly shop.

Farmers' Markets are unique in that they help to connect consumers with their local farmers and food producers and offer a two-way benefit – producers can meet and get a valuable understanding of what their consumers want and consumers can get to know and trust the people who produce the food they purchase.

Introduced by Edinburgh City Council, the market was run first as a non profit making organisation. Edinburgh City Centre Management (now Essential Edinburgh) then took over until 2020, when a co-operative was set up. Dawn Dark, who was elected chair of the committee at the co-operative's formation in March 2020 has been attending the market for 19 years, selling produce from her family's smallholding in Fife.

Dawn says, "It was set up as a co-operative in March 2020 and is now run by a committee of five on behalf of and for the benefit of all the stall holders.

"As a co-operative there is a clear channel for stall holders to raise any concerns or put forward any ideas which they think will improve the market. The committee have also made prudent financial decisions which have enabled the co-operative to reduce the stall fees while improving the infrastructure of the market and increasing marketing.

"As a co-operative, the future of the market is secure and it continues to be a thriving market place for local Scottish producers to meet people who are interested in the traceability, quality and freshness of their produce."

Kate Sharp, a sheep farmer in East Lothian selling wool and knitwear, has been at the market since 2001.

"I started doing the farmers' market when Foot and Mouth arrived in the countryside – all my country events were cancelled, but events in towns and cities were still going ahead. In the beginning most of the stall holders were farmers trying to diversify into selling their produce directly to the public. It was mainly food being sold except for a few non-food producers like myself with wool and knitwear and hand made soaps."

Kate says, "Many stall holders are real working farmers and be it edible products or wearable products such as wool, it's all traceable with a low carbon footprint. If you care about what you buy visit the market and help Scotland's small businesses survive. Have a market experience chatting to real live, working-outside-in-all-weather farmers, still working on the land."

Jon Wood, of the award winning bakery 'Bakery Andante' in Edinburgh, began doing the market in 2011, selling just cheese toasties and covenanter's sour-dough loaves. Having been made redundant, baking as a hobby soon became his business.

"Edinburgh Farmers' Market enabled more people to try our products. We now have three shops and the market has been an integral part in building our local businesses."

A relative newcomer, The Co Co Company, founded by Ian Mead and Robert Lindsay in Dumfries and Galloway 2017, started trading at Edinburgh Farmers' Market in 2020. Self taught artisan chocolate producers, they use all local ingredients where possible and love sharing their passion for small batch-produced unique handmade chocolates with their customers.

Robert says, "Being part of a group of talented and like minded stall holders who are specialists in their own fields (sometimes literally) of food production is unique. Selling directly to the customer is hugely important to me, and the best way to get feedback.

"We're really pleased we have built up a number of regular customers in the short time we have been attending this market. For five hours on a Saturday you have a lovely group of people who enjoy good food, shopping locally and supporting small and local businesses in the centre of a massive city."

With a wide range of local products, food samples and friendly banter, a visit is highly recommended.

DATES: Edinburgh Farmers' Market, Every Saturday 9am-2pm
LOCATION: NCP Castle Terrace Car Park, Castle Terrace, Edinburgh, EH1 2EL


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