Jane Hogan on the delights of North East farmers' markets
PUBLISHED: 00:23 13 May 2013
I was recently startled to find out that the ladies who sell products at our farmers' markets, who I thought were a stocky bunch, are in fact all very slim and glamorous. The reason for my misunderstanding of course is that it has been winter in the North East for about 18 months now, and our usual encounters are entirely muffled affairs in which they are sporting at least three fleece layers and heaven knows what underneath! At a recent 'Meet and Eat' indoor networking event it was a revelation to find out they are less than half the size I thought they were!
There are 19 farmers’ markets in the North East and Cumbria, most of them are monthly. Farmers’ markets stock only products from within a 50 mile radius, they help us to by in season and you can chat to the producers themselves and get the story behind their food.
What a joy though to be able to produce wonderful home-made food and drink and to while away the day chatting with customers and stallholders in the sunshine before leaving with a pocket full of coins and a boot full of empty baskets, well sometimes!
But also often to be up at 5am in the pitch black having just finished baking or setting or proofing hours earlier to drive to a cold and windy site, set up and spend a full day in the freezing cold before re-packing half your food and starting all over again the next day for just a few coins.
There is no doubt that being a small food and drink producer is a labour of love, and if you have never visited a farmers’ market, or you want to discover new sources of artisan food and drink you really ought to pay a visit.
You can find out what’s on when at www.neefm.org.uk/list-of-farmers-markets or email or call us at Tasteclub and we can send you a leaflet.
For the days when you can’t get to the farmers’ market you can choose beautiful great north artisan food and drink gifts at www.tasteclubhq.com.
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You can catch up with Jean Read and her pretty and distinctive jams, curds, marmalades and chutneys at the Newcastle Farmers’ Market (first Friday of the month) and the Tynemouth Farmers’ Market (third Saturday of the month).
Jean has won a series of awards for her produce and her products are stocked in retailers throughout the North East, however she remains loyal to the markets at which she first tested her products back in 1998.
Jean says: ‘Ann Hustwit (of Jenkins and Hustwit cakes) and I were just discussing why we still do this! Although we both have our products in lots of places now, it is important that we can go somewhere where our regular customers can find us and then when they see the products on the shelves they know exactly who made them. Many of my customers are now friends and Ann says I know every single person in Newcastle.’
Our favourite JR Jams product is Jean’s Ginger Lovers Collection, a glorious feast of ginger jam, marmalade and chutney. You can find the Ginger Lovers Collection by searching for ‘ginger’ at www.tasteclubhq.com.