Author Topic: Farmers markets  (Read 1907 times)

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Offline concerned_of_Old_Town

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Farmers markets
« on: July 25, 2008, 07:30:25 PM »
 I had a day off today and literally stumbled across a farmers market in old town (2 stores set up opposite the Spot bar!) and subsequently found this link http://www.wiltshirefarmersmarkets.org.uk/assets/Files/WFMACalendar2007.pdf.

Looking at this notice they also do canal walk second friday of month

I did say that can't expect to get much passing trade on a friday morning especially with poor publicity and they should try and go to some of local events ie old town festival,

Curious too know how many people are aware of this and other local farmers markets (is there still one by outlet centre on sundays?)



Offline Simon

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Re: Farmers markets
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2008, 08:27:50 PM »
Curious too know how many people are aware of this and other local farmers markets (is there still one by outlet centre on sundays?)


Yes, the one at the outlet village is still going strong, and it's bigger and better than the others IMHO. I try to get down there every Sunday (if I'm actually in Swindon on the day) to do as much of my weekly shop as I can there before getting the rest at the supermarket.

I think the one at the outlet village has two big advantages over the ones held by Wiltshire Farmers Markets. First, they're held on a Sunday, compared to the Old Town and town centre markets which are on Friday mornings when I'm at work, and secondly they're weekly so I know they'll be there every Sunday, rather than having to remember where they are on which week of the month.

The outlet village market is organised by these people BTW, who run a number of other markets, mostly in Gloucestershire: http://www.fresh-n-local.co.uk/

Farmers markets deserve our support, for two big reasons:

1) It allows local producers to take their produce direct to the consumers, cutting out the middlemen (supermarkets) who are responsible for some disgraceful practices such as driving down farm gate prices and causing masses of food to be left to rot because it's not quite the right shape or colour.
2) It reduces the mileage between farm and plate, Just one journey from the farm to the market, rather than being sent from the farm to a centralised distribution centre (possibly via a packaging plant wherever in the world labour is cheapest at the moment) before ending up on the supermarket shelf. And all those miles add up to a lot of greenhouse gas emissions.

There are other reasons, those are just the two that are most important to me.

I find it quite staggering, given the largely rural nature of Wiltshire, that there aren't more farmers markets in Swindon. Why do we only have one weekly market and two monthly ones?

Is there a lack of supply? Certainly there seems to be enough farmland. And I'd have thought that the farmers would jump at the chance to sell direct to the public rather than dealing with the supermarkets and their sharp practices.

Is there a lack of demand? Farmers markets, veg box schemes and the food miles issue is a cause that Swindon Climate Action Network has been championing for a couple of years now (you can download a directory of local food producers, veg box schemes and farmers markets here - 5 meg PDF file). I don't know how much effect this has had on people's shopping habits, but from a personal point of view, when I'm out of town on a Sunday I'm always gutted that I have to resort to buying over-packaged over-transported veg from a supermarket when I know that there are producers only a few tens of miles away who I could have bought more or less the same thing from. Minus the wheeliebin filler.

Is it unrealistic to suggest a farmers market in Swindon every day of the week? Sundays at the outlet village, another day in the town centre, another day in Old Town, another day in Stratton, another day in Liden, and so on, so that every area of the town and every day of the week is covered?

If there's anyone reading this who is involved in farming in Wiltshire / Gloucestershire / Oxfordshire, or who is involved in organising the existing farmers markets, who can comment on this, then I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts.
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Offline komadori

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Re: Farmers markets
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2008, 11:09:35 PM »
I find it quite staggering, given the largely rural nature of Wiltshire, that there aren't more farmers markets in Swindon. Why do we only have one weekly market and two monthly ones?

Is there a lack of supply? Certainly there seems to be enough farmland. And I'd have thought that the farmers would jump at the chance to sell direct to the public rather than dealing with the supermarkets and their sharp practices.

But farming is a very different skill from retailing. People will only 'jump at the chance to sell direct to the public' if it is something they enjoy and are good at.

Is there a lack of demand?

I think that's the most likely answer. The convenience of getting everything in one place, ready prepared of semi-prepared, will get most people's money. Next time you're in a supermarket look at what the other people in the queue are buying. The number of people buying fresh fruit and veg is limited.

Is it unrealistic to suggest a farmers market in Swindon every day of the week? Sundays at the outlet village, another day in the town centre, another day in Old Town, another day in Stratton, another day in Liden, and so on, so that every area of the town and every day of the week is covered?

I'd say that's definitely unrealistic. The impression I get is that the market at the outlet centre does a steady but not stunning trade, despite being positioned in an ideal position for passing trade (though admitedly most of those passing will not have buying food on their agenda). If you consider that many of the shops in Swindon's suburbs make a rather meagre existence, a farmer's market stands little chance. What might be worth a try though are weekend farmers markets at the West Swindon Centre and the Orbital Centre. Both are big enough centres for significant passing trade, and are places that people visit for food shopping anyway.
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Offline concerned_of_Old_Town

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Re: Farmers markets
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2008, 10:08:41 AM »
What might be worth a try though are weekend farmers markets at the West Swindon Centre and the Orbital Centre. Both are big enough centres for significant passing trade, and are places that people visit for food shopping anyway.

Good idea but I'm sure Asda, Tescos, Sainsburys won't be too keen on any competition on their home patch! Yes know we have the occassional italian/french market in canal walk but think this draws people in and not really in competion with supermarkets.

It's a shame that the organic shop on commercial road never took off and even more of a shame that the tented market didn't actually serve as a genuine market and sell locally produced fruit veg and meat!

However I'm a bit of a hypercrite as whilst i agree with the idea of farmers market not sure in reality if go out of my way to spend a lot more!

Offline Simon

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Re: Farmers markets
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2008, 05:18:43 PM »
I've added all the farmers markets in and around Swindon that I know about to the TS calendar, which will hopefully raise people's awareness of them a bit.

But farming is a very different skill from retailing. People will only 'jump at the chance to sell direct to the public' if it is something they enjoy and are good at.

Good point.

However I'm a bit of a hypercrite as whilst i agree with the idea of farmers market not sure in reality if go out of my way to spend a lot more!

Are farmers markets really more expensive than the equivalent produce from a supermarket? Especially if you compare the prices of organic produce rather than the no-frills bargain basement brands. I confess I haven't carried out a price comparison, but I may do just that next time I go shopping.
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Offline komadori

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Re: Farmers markets
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2008, 11:29:44 PM »
Are farmers markets really more expensive than the equivalent produce from a supermarket? Especially if you compare the prices of organic produce rather than the no-frills bargain basement brands. I confess I haven't carried out a price comparison, but I may do just that next time I go shopping.

The few times I have done a comparison the farmers market are either comparable or more expensive. That's comparing the farmers market price to the higher quality supermarket equivalent. It wasn't a comparison with 'organic' produce because there was nothing to indicate that the particular products I was comparing were 'organic' at the farmers market.

Having said that, the comparison is difficult because it is rare to find food of similar quality in the supermarkets where unadulterated meat is a rarity and fruit and veg is so well travelled that it barely warrants the description 'fresh'.
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