France seems to get it right.
There’s barely a town or village that doesn’t have at least a monthly market, packed with locally produced goodies; mounds of fresh garlic, bundles of bright-green-topped carrots with earth still clinging to their roots, trays of white-and-brown shelled eggs, the aroma of freshly baked bread, buns and pies, women under huge umbrellas selling nothing but goats cheese – and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Until the next market.
In the UK, despite having hundreds of designated ‘market towns’, we have lost our way a bit. But in 1997 the first farmers’ market was established in Bath – still going strong every Saturday morning from May to September at Green Park – and started a resurgence which now sees over 550 nationwide.
The definition of a farmers’ market is one where ‘local farmers and growers sell their produce directly to the public’ and the very best of them find a way to give back to the community over and above providing a different way to Shop Local.
Here are 11 of the best farmers’ markets in the UK.
Edinburgh Farmers’ Market
The Saturday market in Castle Terrace is the largest in Scotland. Set against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle it has more than 35 regular specialist producers, the majority of whom grow or rear their own produce.
Loch Lomond Farmers’ Market, West Dunbartonshire
The shores of Loch Lomond at Balloch are full on the first and third Sunday of every month with local produce. What’s available varies greatly with the seasons but there’s usually cheese, bread, chutney, oils and meats on Ben Lomond Way.
Uplands Market, Swansea
The biggest indoor market in Wales sells a range of produce, from handmade items to locally produced meats, pies, fuit and veggies on the last Saturday of every month. You can also see local performers of poetry, songs and music take to the stage at the venue in Princess Way.
Haverfordwest Farmers’ Market, Pembrokeshire
Every Friday in summer the River Cleddau provides the backdrop for the market near the Riverside Shopping area. In winter the shopping doesn’t stop, but moves under the cover into the Argos tunnel.
St George’s Market, Belfast
The market in East Bridge Street dates from the late 1800s and is one of the city’s oldest attractions. It holds a weekly Friday Variety Market, the City Food and Craft Market on Saturdays and a Sunday Market. It was named the UK’s Best Large Indoor Market 2019 by the NABMA Great British Market Awards.
Orton Farmers’ Market, Cumbria
With more than 25 local farmers, growers, producers and craftsmen, variety is guaranteed in Orton Market Hall. As well as making local foods more available they support town centre regeneration schemes and aim to reduce the environmental impact of the food trade.
Ripley Farmers’ Market, Surrey
More than 30 stalls of seasonal, locally farmed or produced goods including speciality foods, crafts and plants. The market, established in 2005, is held on Ripley Green on the second Saturday of the month and all proceeds go towards funding good works in the village.
Otley Farmers’ Market, West Yorkshire
Set in the glorious Yorkshire Dales the market is held on the last Sunday of each month and is full of jams, honey, preserves, fresh eggs, homemade bread, plants and herbs.
Stroud Fresh-n-Local Market, Gloucestershire
One of Britain’s most famous farmers’ markets, it sells an abundance of Gloucestershire specialities. Look out for traditional apple juices and a selection of mouth-watering cheeses in Cornhill Market Place. They’ve even got an online system too where locals can place their orders on the Thursday before the market, then boxes are made up from the stalls and delivery or collection arranged.
Growing Communities’ Farmers’ Market, north-east London
Guaranteed 100% organic or bio-dynamic produce is on offer every Saturday at St Paul’s Church, Stoke Newington, north-east London. All the farmers come from no further than 60 miles away from the London borough.
Truro Farmers’ Market, Cornwall
The pride of Cornish goodies are on display every Wednesday and Saturday under the white-and-green striped awnings at Lemon Quay. Flowers, fruit and veg, blue duck eggs, local cheese and meat raised on green Cornish pasture.
There are many other farmer’s markets now thriving in the UK so it’s worth checking the sites below to find one near you. Let us know your favourite.
More information about UK farmers’ markets
Many local authorities and community-based charities also support the running of small, local produce markets and NABMA promotes the annual Love Your Local Market fortnight in May.