Those of you who read these posts regularly will know that I live in a very rural part of South West Wales – in the middle of nowhere, past the back of beyond! My nearest shop, and the only one within walking distance (just), is at C&M organics near Llanglydwen. Chris and Matt have a market garden where they grow and sell fantastic veg, all certified organic. But not everything grows well in this rather damp part of the UK and of course some things are too exotic to grow in the UK at all. So to meet the needs of the shops and restaurants they supply they buy in stuff from ‘foreign parts’ (including the UK!). And for us locals they sell through their farm shop where they also stock various dry goods and some chilled produce if it has a long enough shelf life.
Recently they realised that those people starting out in the agriculture or horticulture businesses, many of them contemporaries and friends of their daughters, could do with a helping hand to sell their produce. Some, like Alex and Sam Heffron at Mountain Hall farm (read more about them here Starting From Scratch) who produce raw milk from their small herd of channel island cows and grass fed beef, have difficulty meeting demand fairly locally. Others can sell over the internet. But not everything lends itself to delivery by post or courier and those producers can struggle. The problem for Chris and Matt was that they guarantee that everything in they sell through the shop is certified organic and many of these small, new producers, cannot afford the certification process which is understandably rigorous and therefore expensive.
The solution was to offer a weekly produce market in the area outside the shop. Very much a family affair Chris and Matt are helped by their daughters, grandchildren and the dogs! Like the pannier markets of old anyone can ask for a space to sell whatever they have a surplus of so I will be taking grapes when they are ripe but will only need space for a week or two. The only rule is that no-one can sell what they already stock in the shop or compete with another stallholder.
They make no charge for a space on the tables and provide tea or coffee and home-made cake to everyone in return for a modest donation. Families and dogs are welcomed and there is space to sit and chat – I have met several new people and seen others I have not spoken to for a while so it is a really good chance to socialise as well as shop. The object is not to make money for themselves but to encourage the newcomers to farming and to build community. So if you find yourself out this way on a Saturday morning please come and join us.