Our involvement in Farmers Markets
We have been involved with Farmers Markets in Kent since early 2000 and have been running them since June 2000 when we set up Rochester Farmers Market. At the time we wanted to visit a Farmers Market in Kent and they were few and far between so we decided to run a small Farmers Market as part of the launch of the Medway Local Agenda 21 Plan.
This one off event proved so popular that within 2 months a trial of 6 monthly Farmers Markets in Rochester took place. It grew from strength to strength and it was agreed this could continue on a regular basis.
There was a short break in the running of Rochester Farmers Market in 2001 due to the foot and mouth outbreak which had an impact throughout Kent. We continued to run this Farmers Market until 31 March 2004.
Shortly after this we were approached by several producers to set up another farmers market. This involved us having to set up a small business called My Farmers Market Limited to enable the running of the farmers markets separate to our normal day time jobs.
As a small business we started by purchasing a number of market stalls, researching where to obtain public liability insurance, developing our own website and producing lots of promotional items such as banners.
In July 2004 Meopham Farmers Market opened for the first time on the 1st Sunday of the month. This date was chosen to compliment Rochester Farmers Market on the 3rd Sunday of the month. Sadly in early 2015 we made the difficult decision to stop running Meopham Farmers Market due to difficulties in recruiting new producers to attend the farmers market and our small company was no longer able to subsidise the costs of running the farmers market.
Since July 2004 we have been approached by many different places about running farmers markets and some of these have opened, are still operating and we have closed down a number too for a variety of reasons.
Here’s a potted history of some those farmers markets:
We ran farmers markets in Norwood and Streatham for a period of time in partnership with the local council, and finally decided to close these as the street trading and parking issues around the area made it difficult to continue to operate the farmers markets in those locations
We operated a farmers market at the Museum of Kent Life for a trial period which gave the opportunity for people to catch a boat from Maidstone to visit the farmers market and the museum itself. A visit to the farmers market included a discount voucher for entrance to the Museum on that day. Despite being a lovely locations there was some doubt that the location would be suitable for the winter weather so the farmers market was closed.
We were approached by Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre, Gillingham to continue the running of their monthly farmers market, which we did for a number of years. It introduced a number of people to the idea of a farmers market and ran from September 2006, closing several years ago
We ran a farmers market at Millbrook Garden Centre, Southfleet for several years during the April – December period which again gave a great opportunity to promote farmers markets to a new group of local residents
Dartford Farmers Market opened in November 2005 and initially started as something held every 3 months, we gradually increased this to being a monthly farmers market and this farmers market celebrated it’s 10th birthday in November 2015. This farmers market is run in partnership with Dartford Borough Council and takes place on the 3rd Friday of the month
Gravesend Farmers Market opened in October 2007 at the request of the Town Centre Manager. Having moved around several locations in the Town Centre this farmer market still operates and has some loyal customers who have supported the farmers market in all weathers. It takes place on the 2nd Friday of the month. In October 2016 the farmers market celebrated its 9th birthday. From 2017 the farmers market will move in to the Gravesend market building and will be operated by Gravesham Borough Council
In 2009 we were approached about running West Malling Farmers Market as the operator had gone into Administration. We took over the running of this Farmers Market in April 2009. The necessary road closure orders were obtained to secure the future of this farmers market. It still continues and is held on the 4th Sunday of the month. This farmers market has been running since 2000 and is one of the longest running farmers markets in Kent. In 2016 West Malling Farmers Market was announced as the Best Farmers Market in Kent awarded by Kent life/Kent on Sunday. In 2018 West Malling Farmers Market was announced as the UK Market Category Winner at the Farm Shop and Deli Awards.
In 2011 Chislehurst Town Team contacted us about organising a farmers market in their area. After a slight delay to find a suitable location Chislehurst Farmers Market opened in June 2011 and moved to its new location in a more visable car park several years later. The partnership with the Town Team has produced some great events and we celebrated British Food Fortnight here in 2015 with a Harvest Festival at the farmers market organised by Churches Together in Chislehurst and Bickley. The farmers market is held on the 3rd Sunday of the month. This farmers market was Highly Commended in the Kent Life Farmers Market of the Year several years ago.
In 2011 we met with Bexley Heritage Trust who asked us to run a farmers market at Hall Place Bexley. In April 2012 the farmers market opened officially for the first time. It’s a wonderful location for a day out plus the visit to the farmers market. We are very pleased to be involved with running this farmers market as we have strong connections with Hall Place. The farmers market takes place on the 1st Sunday of each month.
In 2009 we made the decision to become a local producer ourselves. We started making jams, marmalades and chutneys using local produce wherever possible. We sell these at the farmers markets that we run and a few local events too.
During this time we have been great supporters of Produced in Kent and are Members of Produced in Kent. We have been involved in the Kent Farmers Market Association having been Board members for a number of years. In 2015 due to the success of our markets, the companies expansion of running over 10% of the farmers markets in Kent and to maintain our independence we withdrew our membership of Kent Farmers Market Association.
Sustainability and environmental issues are a key part of our business and we are proud to have received a highly commended award in 2013 in the National Market UKs Greenest Trader Award. As a small business in 2016 our farmers markets were announced as a finalist in the Farm Shop and Deli Awards best UK farmers market category. We were also announced as the winner of the Best Home Based Business in the Kent Women in Business Awards.