The first time I had come across farmers markets was when I went to visit my friend Leah in Berkeley, America in 2000. She took me out to local farmers market and I was in awe at the colour and vibrancy of the vegetables and fruit, the enthusiasm of the stall holders whether they were selling radishes or homemade tamales and the genuine interest expressed by the people shopping there. It was buzzing.
So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that farmers market were being established in Scotland, this was about 7 years ago, as I support the principle of buying direct from the producer and supporting the local economy, it started with about six stalls to an impressive twenty stalls. But as the years passed by I grew despondent to the farmers market offerings. Please note this was well before I got my allotment in late 2006.
No criticism about any of the products on showcase or any of the stalls, I am confident all are good. But its charm was starting to wear off on me. Every time I went I would see the same thing, people selling homemade jams, soups, quiches, tarts and cakes. Some caught my eye, especially if it used an ingredient that I had not tasted or cooked with before; and some did not. Amongst this there were also some confectionery, craft and marinated olive stalls. I didn’t mind forking out some of my hard earned cash for good artisan bread, cheese and a bag of Braeburn apples, but after a while the novelty wore out. Also as a non meat eater, the butchers, the fish stalls and burger vans did not appeal to me at all.
The more I frequented local farmers markets, it struck me that there was a lack of seasonal vegetable offerings. It appeared to me to be the only farmers market which lacked fresh produce, mainly vegetables. Could no one else see the irony? The last time I went to a farmers market was in 2005 in Helensburgh and I came home with a bundle of rhubarb.
I often get excited when I see TV food shows such as Simon Rimmers This Little farmer went to market or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall showcasing UK farmers markets where they have chilli stalls with various offerings, variety of tomatoes, lettuces, courgettes, beetroots and so on. Or after hearing about a local food festival or reading about the best farmers market in the UK. Such news always excites me, however, the farmers markets I have been to in the past have been standard fare and rather disappointing on arrival. However, I am willing to give them another go, especially after reading A Taste of Tottenham and fran39 expeditions to her local farmers market and some of her interesting finds. I have decided to give the farmers market here another go. There were few this weekend, accessible if you have a car in the West of Scotland.
This morning we decided to go along to the farmers market in Renfew to see if it fared any better and offered new delights that would excite and revive my interest in farmers markets again.
The result this morning was pitiful, out of nine stalls only five were there. Pitiful. I can say no more. I may give farmers market another shot, but it will be a while before I do.