Page 43 - MarketTimesAugust2019
P. 43

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A meeting organised by the NFU in a village hall near Taunton two decades ago led to a farmers’ market which has proved one of the most successful and enduring in the South West. Nicola Gould meets traders and producers who are passionate about what they do
The Vale of Taunton Farmers’ Market in Somerset is everything you would expect of a farmers’ market and more — from the bunches of freshly picked carrots and beetroots, to the trader selling venison that he has stalked and killed on the Downton Abbey estate. But one thing it is not is pricey.
Graeme Wallace, who farms deer and sells meat, home-made pies and sausage rolls on the market, is keen to dispel that particular prejudice.
Graeme helped to launch the farmers’ market in 1999 after he and a small group of farmers attended the meeting organised by the NFU who were mooting the idea of farmers cutting out the middle men and selling their produce on new local farmers’ markets.
“Taunton was my local town and it seemed the ideal place to have a farmers’ market,” Graeme said.
He and like-minded farmers formed a steering committee and approached the local council, who were happy for the town to host a farmers’ market but didn’t want to get involved in running it.
“We formed a co-operative and the first farmers’ market was held in the High Street with farmers bringing their own tables and trading under umbrellas,” he said.
It was originally a monthly market but after a year the co-operative had made enough to repay the council for the umbrellas and they decided to stage the market every Thursday.
Graeme said the market had stayed strong over the years.
“Traders have come and gone but we always manage to recruit more traders when one or two leave,” he said.
The co-operative must be doing something right because they have won gold in the Taste of the West awards for the past five years and
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