Every Friday, from 8.30am till 2pm, the busy Parade in Minehead is transformed: Purple and yellow tents take over the top part of the town, and shoppers with baskets filled to the brim with fresh bread, eggs, cake and vegetables walk where cars usually speed along.
The Minehead Farmers Market moved into the Avenue nearly 10 years ago. Between 16 and 19 traders bring their fares to Minehead for 50 weeks a year. Whether it is gluten free cakes, sourdough products, chocolates, fish, cheese, preserves, beef, pork, venison or even plants, visitors will find a plethora of homemade or homegrown products to fill their larder.
Shelley Kift, who has been attending Minehead Farmers Market since 2006 with her business “Out Over Catering”, took over as market chairman in 2011.
“We run our own farm at Blackmore Gate on Exmoor and only use home bred pork and beef from neighbouring local farms,” explains Shelley who now coordinates all the market traders. The trained chef sources all ingredients as locally as possible, and all products are made from scratch, including the pastry.
“The Minehead Farmers Market has been going from strength to strength,” said Shelley while serving another customer with cheese scones and chocolate cake. “In 2014 we won the Taste of the West Silver Award. We are still waiting for the 2015 results…”
Cheryl Arvidson from Greenmeadow Poultry in the Quantocks regularly brings free-range hen, duck and quail eggs to the market in Minehead. Those interested in having their own chicken, can book courses in poultry keeping for all levels with the Cheryl who has a further education teaching certificate.
Another stall to look out for is Plowright Organic and their home grown, organic vegetables, freshly hewn each week from the sandy Somerset soils at the foothills of the Quantocks. “It isn’t a big money maker for us,” says Richard Plowright who runs the farm, “the customers are the reason we go there as they’re so appreciative of our produce.”
Carrots and Milya potatoes are the biggest sellers which keep the customers coming back for more. Customers also enjoy the experience of looking through the vegetables, connecting with the growing seasons and sharing recipe ideas, as well as having a chat with Joel who runs the stall.
On 20 September 2015, many of the regular Minehead Farmers Market traders will take part in the Minehead Food and Families Day around The Beach Hotel, which launches a range of “Taste of Exmoor” events leading up to the 2016 Exmoor Food Fest. Participating restaurants across Exmoor will again be offering 2 courses for £10.00 during February. For more information, please go to www.tasteofexmoor.com .
Credit: All photos by James A Fenwick
(Note: This text was first published in the September issue of Somerset Life)