Farmers’ markets have existed since the dawn of agriculture and the birth of commerce. They differ from conventional markets in that farmers are present in person to sell their produce and goods to the general public whether this is jam, bread, vegetables, fruit, meat or dairy produce. There is no middleman. It’s an honest, traditional and typically rural way of operating – and is enjoying increased popularity across the UK, and especially in the Peak District where there is such a wonderful range of local produce. Farmers’ markets and farm shops have breathed new life into small family enterprises who can benefit from these new retail opportunities and extend their dealings with the local community.
Like similar markets in European countries, farmers’ markets work successfully on many levels. Shoppers are able to discuss produce directly with the people who have grown it – confident of its origin. This is increasingly relevant nowadays when the general public is more concerned about the quality and provenance of their food thanks in part to the likes of Jamie Oliver, and there’s undoubtedly a feel good factor about buying from local sources, sustaining farmers’ livelihood and supporting the local economy.
The face to face sales relationship takes some beating, and in these days of extra vigilance about what our children eat, it’s very reassuring to know that produce on offer at farmers’ markets is really fresh, very often organic and always competitively priced. The farmer is usually more than willing to discuss any aspect of production and processing and will have first-hand knowledge of his products. Personal service with a smile!
In addition, the diversity of produce on offer can be surprising – ostrich and kangaroo meat, exotic cordials, cider and honey can all be sourced at farmers’ markets. Often handicrafts such as woven baskets, candles and wooden objects are on sale alongside fruit and vegetables.
The National Association of Farmers’ Markets holds lists of where markets can be located throughout the UK and offers certification as validation. In Derbyshire and the Peak District, markets are regularly held in Alfreton, Ashbourne, Bakewell, Belper, Buxton, Chesterfield, Glossop, Hartington, Heanor, Holmfirth, Ilkeston and Ripley.