The produce of the Good Life generation

Contributed by editor on Jan 04, 2007 - 07:37 PM

The following article about Hawkinge Farmers Market written by Will Pavia appeared on the TimesOnline website today (4 January).

Farmers' market vs supermarket 

In a village hall in Kent, the first farmers’ market of the year got under way yesterday. 

Elderly couples from Hawkinge, north of Folkestone, entered in dribs and drabs, and mothers pushed strollers around the produce. 

By the end of the afternoon, stallholder Ted Beer, 54, estimated that they had seen 150 customers. Until recently Mr Beer was a haulier delivering fruit and vegetables from local farms to supermarkets. “It got to a stage where it wasn’t economical anymore,” he said. Lately, however, he has seen a boom in the market for locally sourced produce. “Now there is almost a shortage,” he added. 

He started the Hawkinge farmers’ market last March. “One or two things we sell are a little over the odds, but mostly we compete with the supermarkets.” He sells potatoes from a farm in Thanet for £1.20 per two-kilo bag. Cabbages and Brussels sprouts dug that morning from a farm near Dover go for 60p and £1.40 per kilo respectively, but there has been a local shortage of cauliflowers, and the price has increased from £8 to £12 for 12. 

“It doesn’t seem too expensive,” said Sally Toohig, 33. “Although I don’t really look at the price. I try to buy most of my vegetables here, and get the rest at the supermarket. I used to live in Croydon, so this is quite a change of scene for me, and I’m trying to support the local community.” 

What Mrs Toohig may not realise is that many farmers selling their produce are almost as fresh out of the city as she is. 

Wendy Court, 46, used to be an investment banker, while her husband was a chef. “We are the Good Life generation,” says Mrs Court. Six years ago she and her husband moved out of London and bought a farm. “We wanted to know what we were eating,” Mrs Court said. 

Tony Surgeon, 41, is also a newcomer. Until a year ago, she was a secretary, and her husband served in the Royal Engineers. “We had always wanted to get into catering,” she said. 

But not all the goods on sale are local. Mrs Surgeon sells pork pies from the Midlands, while Mr Beer gets his swedes, parsnips and carrots from a wholesaler in Norfolk.