Enthusiastic traders are not the only ones to benefit from the fortnightly Lewes Farmers’ Market.
Every second Saturday- and possibly one more per month - producers and growers from no further than 40 miles away from the county town set up their stalls from 9am in Cliffe Precinct. They are also sometimes accompanied by emergency services to the delight of local children.
And, as local shopkeepers say, footfall in and around the High Street, including local supermarkets like Waitrose and Tesco, grows substantially.
A spokesman for market organisers, Common Cause said: “All stallholders are involved in the production of their produce and we visit all of them to ensure we understand the growing or production practise and that it meets the required criteria. We have a wonderful range of local producers, all of whom adhere to our strict accreditation process. They are passionate about what they produce and are very happy to talk to visitors about their rearing or production methods and how to best use their products.”
The next markets are on Saturday, February 6 and Saturday, February 20.
The award-winning market was set up in 1997 and is acknowledged as becoming one of the most vibrant and successful farmers’ markets in Sussex.
Some stallholders are there every market, others supply highly seasonal produce such as locally grown asparagus (May and June) and cherries (late summer.)
The market organisers’ website also lists seasonal produce each month so shoppers know what to look for, although they stress not all will be available at every market.
Amongst items in season at present are artichokes, beetroot, squash, celery, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, parsnips, maincrop potatoes, swede, and watercress. Herbs could include chives, rosemary, sage and sorrel while meatlovers can find beef, duck goose, hare, lamb, partridge, pheasant, venison and wood pigeon. There is also a huge range of fish available including sought after wild sea-bass.
Specialist producers also sell honeys, breads, organic meats, bhajis, cakes, pies, oils, charcuterie and vinegars. There are fruit farmers and people selling seasonal organic vegetables plus a small firm from Southover selling Japanese vegetables and pickles.
The High Weald Dairy from Horsted Keynes displays sheep and cows’ milk cheeses while more cheese, butter and pasta comes from Bates Green Farm, Arlington.
Gourmet game travels from Beckley and Heath Farm, Plumpton provides free range chickens, lamb and mutton.
There are also craft stalls such as Lamington Lass (hand-dyed and kitted clothing and felt kits) and wool and fleece products from the Cousley Flock in Wadhurst.
As the market grows there is also space for extra stallholders. Organisers say: “We have a busy and thriving market but welcome applications from local farmers and producers who would like to trade at Lewes. We have some seasonal spaces for guest producers and keep a list of all potential applicants which is reviewed annually, as well as when a pitch becomes available.
“If you would like to be considered for a place in the future, please download the application form and secondary producer form and send to the office. We try to acknowledge all applications but we receive many each month and it is not always possible to respond immediately.”
The new third Saturday market is currently accepting new applications.
To find out more about Lewes Farmers’ Market or to be considered for a pitch people and to find out the criteria which applies to everyone who takes part, people can download a form by logging onto the Common Cause website, and clicking against the Lewes Farmers’ Market. This also provides a complete list of exhibitors and the goods they well.
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