The Midleton Farmers Market, established on the June Bank Holiday weekend in 2000, has just celebrated its fifteen year anniversary. The market quickly grew and since then it has become the yardstick by which other Farmers Markets are measured. At a recent count, there were approximately 160 Farmers Markets in operation around Ireland, enabling local people to buy fresh local food in season from those who produce it, going some way towards realising my dream of a Farmers Market in every town in Ireland.
By the late 1990's the new Farmers Market movement was gaining momentum in the US. San Francisco was leading the way with a weekly market operating from a small parking lot in the city. The beautiful fresh produce of the area was available for the first time direct from the producer to the consumer. In essence this was the 'democratisation food'.
|The Ballymaloe Cookery School stall
Stall numbers grew and Midleton Market quickly became oversubscribed with many farmers and food producers clamouring to be part of a business model that was clearly an excellent prototype.
Several of the original 12 stallholders who started the market are still trading. Ted Murphy, a stalwart from the very first day was there, as was Frank Hederman artisan fish smoker from Belvelly near Cobh (pictured above). Willie Scannell whose floury Ballycotton potatoes are much loved by his ever-growing band of loyal customers. Fiona Burke’s stall with a beautiful selection of Irish farmhouse cheese and Jane Murphy’s Ardsallagh goat’s cheese are still part of the market. So too are David and Siobhan Barry’s seasonal vegetables with a much larger selection than on the first day. Toby Simmonds of The Olive Stall was also there at the outset and his stall still trades beside the market.
The Market Today
There are now 27 stalls (soon to be 33) at the Midleton Farmers Market. The choice of produce is tantalizing: artisan breads; vegetables, herbs and fruit in season; organic produce; local honey and oysters; fresh fish; wild mushrooms and foraged food; home baking, cordials and pickles; gluten free treats: smoked fish and homemade pate; shellfish; heritage pork products; local ducks, chickens and eggs; farmhouse cheese; pies; freshly made salads, chocolate and long queues for freshly made coffee. Market goers can enjoy a pizza straight from Simon Mould’s wood burning oven, a BLT or pulled pork sandwich from Woodside Farm and much much more.
The Farmers Market provides a livelihood for many and an opportunity to buy local food from small production systems. At a time when a growing number of people realise that our food should and can be our medicine, the Market offers an alternative shopping experience for families who wish to engage directly with those who produce the food they buy to nourish their families.
|Olive and Arun Kapil, the Green Saffron Team
I’m proud to have been a little part of that initiative. Congratulations to everyone at Midleton Farmers Market.
Midleton Farmers Market, East Cork, Ireland is open every Saturday from 9.30am-1pm.