Best of British: Farmers' markets

Anna Walker

There's no better way to spend a spring day than wandering around a picturesque market, tasty treat in hand. Here are our favourites…

Edinburgh Farmers’ Market, Edinburgh

Held each Saturday at the foot of the statuesque Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh’s farmers market is a firm favourite amongst locals and tourists alike when it comes to sampling an authentic taste of Scotland.

Nibble on samples as you pick your way through the stalls, enjoying such local fare as fresh Isle of Arran oysters, pizza from Scotland’s oldest delicatessen and “burnt to order” crème brûlée.

Says market manager Grant Rogers, “With an abundance of seasonal ingredients to behold, there’s no better place than the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market to discover the best food that Scotland has to offer. Now in its 18th year, there’s a huge variety of fresh local produce from more than 35 specialist producers. The majority of stallholders grow or rear what they sell so can answer your questions about production, offer cooking suggestions and advice.”

edinburghfarmersmarket.co.uk

 

The Goods Shed, Canterbury

Held in a picturesque Victorian former railway building, The Goods Shed in Canterbury opened in 2002 and now offers a popular daily farmers’ market.

This market is notable for its characters as much as its delectable food. There’s Enzo, who runs a bakery offering the perfect blend of Italian and British breads. Then there’s the staff of Canterbury’s only independent fresh fishmonger, boasting a fresh catch from local boats and British shores. You’re sure to enjoy your conversation with these food experts as much as you enjoy the taste of their delicious produce.

If you want to make a day of your visit, the beautifully rustic onsite restaurant also offers ingredients sourced from the markets whipped up into a menu that’s a slice of gastronomic heaven. Lunch doesn’t get fresher than that!

thegoodsshed.co.uk

 

Aberystwyth Farmers’ Market, Ceredigion

Boasting an impressive variety of produce, from the usual meat and dairy through to cakes, preserves, gourmet burgers and jerk chicken, Aberystwyth Farmers’ Market is the perfect spot for a weekly shop or grabbing a quick lunch.

Says market coordinator Julie Lomas, “On a lovely sunny day there is no better place to be than the market. There’s a really friendly, buzzy atmosphere from the traders and customers and everyone is in a really good, positive mood. The stall holders are lovely people and great fun, and they are always happy to chat to the customers about the produce. Everything that you see on the market is grown and produced locally and has been made by the person selling on the stall.

“People think that the market is just about food, but there is a great range of locally produced beers, wines, ciders and gins on the market, as well as some lovely handmade craft and gift stalls.”

aberystwythfarmersmarket.co.uk

 

Stroud Farmers' Market, Gloucestershire

Come snow or shine the traders of Stroud Farmers' Market are out in force every Saturday morning to greet the punters milling around to cheery music, enjoying sugary doughnuts or rifling through jars of tempting chilli jams.

As one of the busiest farmers' markets in the UK, it’s always a bustling affair.

Says market manager Kardien Gerbrands, “Stroud is marked out for the superb range of produce available with an especially high number of primary producers selling their wares including meat, vegetables, fruits, dairy and cheeses plus a fabulous selection of street food, entertainment and—of course—the legendary laid-back Stroud atmosphere.”

fresh-n-local.co.uk

 

Ludlow Local Produce Market, Shropshire

Street markets have been held in Ludlow since the 12th century, so when you’re tucking into cheese from the deli or sipping on a coffee brewed from locally roasted beans, you’re also enjoying a taste of history.

A love for local produce is part of the fabric of this medieval market town, which still retains three local butchers, three bakers and two independent green grocers.

Says market manager Tish Dockerty, “There’s something truly special about Ludlow Local Produce Market. From tasty handmade vegetarian burgers to the finest lamb and beef, from spicy snacks to delicious local apple juices, I’m delighted that not only were we one of the first farmers’ markets in the UK but that we are continuing to be hugely successful in our 18th year of trading.”

Ludlow.org.uk

 

Creake Abbey, Norfolk

Sprawled charmingly across the ruins of an Augustinian Abbey, this farmers’ market is a veritable smorgasbord of culinary delights with more than 50 stallholders armed with colourful, fresh produce.

Originally founded as a hospital during the reign of Henry II, the ruins of this former abbey remain majestic, and a great spot to tour with the spoils of your market visit.

In the main barn, visitors will discover such treats as ethnic fusion Indian cooking, an old-fashioned pudding company and a range of fresh meats. In the East Barn, sweet treats are the order of the day, while the Tin Barn covers larder essentials and artisan coffees.

The spread continues outside, meaning whatever your taste buds desire, you’ll find something to perfectly satiate them within the Abbey walls.

creakeabbey.co.uk

 

Winchester Farmers’ Market, Hampshire

A favourite among celebrity chefs including Rick Stein, Winchester boasts the UK’s biggest farmers’ market, held on the second and last Sunday of each month.

The market asks punters to “come hungry” to enjoy its award-winning local produce, which includes such rare finds as “Bad Boys Biltong” and Broughton water buffalo.

Their strict criteria for stall owners means that here "local" truly means local. Everything you see on display is produced no further than ten miles from Hampshire’s bountiful borders, with nothing external bought in. Plus, the people behind the stalls are always involved in the production of the goods they’re selling, so you’ll know you’re speaking with an expert as you consider your purchases.

hampshirefarmersmarkets.co.uk

 

Do you have a favourite British Farmers' Market or a memorable story of your visit? Email readersletters@readersdigest.co.uk