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Keeping it real - Colchester Farmers' Market offers undiluted food experience
THE problem with a farmers’ market is I just want to buy everything. The idea that everything being sold is as fresh as can be and being sold to me a stone’s throw from where it came from is appealing.
It is the same thought that keeps markets like Colchester Farmers’ Market in business, not to mention that seasonal, local produce is very fashionable and all over our television screens.
Colchester Farmers’ Market celebrated its 10th birthday in July and, although footfall has dropped a bit, it is still thriving with producers flocking to sell their wares directly to customers without the burden of shop overheads.
Andrew Wilkinson, of En-Form, the Colchester-based environmental charity that organises the market, says: “At its peak the Colchester Farmers’ Market used to see 1,000 customers coming through the doors and 28 stalls.
“Yes, some products may cost more than the supermarket, but if you take the sausages as an example, you can’t eat more than two of the local producer’s sausages because they are packed with real meat, whereas you may eat three or four supermarket-bought ones, so the cost balances out.
“One of our stallholders makes real apple juice with nothing else added in,” he says.
A council-run Farmers’ Market was originally run from Vineyard Street car park between 1997 and 2000, but had to close. Without a regular venue the town was without a Farmers’ Market until 2003, when En-Form, which was running a similar market in Dedham, was called on to reopen its market at the Arts Centre in Colchester.
It is popular with Chinese university students, many of whom enjoy shopping around for their produce rather than loading up at supermarkets.
But, although sourcing locally has become fashionable with the likes of Jimmy Doherty and High Fearnley-Whittingstall promoting all things local, Andrew says the young do not know what to do with food, let alone where to buy it from.
He says: “At our market they cannot only learn about different foods and how to use it and cook it, but in the case of meat, the producers can tell you about the animal it came from.”
The next Colchester Farmers’ Market will be held on Friday, September 6, between 9.30am and 1pm.
Visit enformfarmers markets.org.uk or call 01206 367776.