Great Garnetts farmers’ market, run by pig farmers, celebrates 10th anniversary
- Credit: Archant
A farmers’ market run by turkey and pig producers celebrates its 10th anniversary tomorrow.
Great Garnetts Farmers’ Market, which is held on the second Saturday morning of the month, was set up by Jonathan and Julie Smith to market their own fresh produce.
They have been making prize-winning sausages and bacon for years from pigs raised at the small family farm, based at Bishops Green, near Dunmow, as well as rearing their own Christmas turkeys.
But they felt they needed to branch out and find new direct markets.
They also wanted to create a community hub, where local people could meet, socialise and try out local foods from other producers as well, so they decided to launch the market, which runs most months.
“We are probably the only place I know that’s a proper working farm farmers’ market,” said Julie, who organises the events.
“Someone described our market once as being just like a wedding, because it’s just so social. We give everyone a free tea or coffee.”
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People will often come to enjoy breakfast at the market and meet up, she said.
“It’s kind of a catch-up with all the locals.”
The market has helped with the selling of the turkeys, particularly as the Smiths lay on a tasting session at the pre-Christmas market where customers can order up their turkeys, chipolatas and seasonal hams. Visitors also enjoy seeing the pigs in the setting where they are born and raised.
Apart from the trip to the abattoir down the road, there is an unbroken chain to the on-farm cutting plant.
The event started with 20 stallholders, but is now home to up to about 60, with food producers in a 15th century barn and crafts in another more modern one.
Produce on sale includes beef, lamb, pork, chicken, curries, bread, cakes, pickles, chutneys, pâtés, venison, cheese, pies, fish and jams. There are also herbaceous plants, and a variety of craft goods. Entertainment can include pony rides and face painting.
Visitor numbers boomed around the second or third year, and the market went on to survive the Credit Crunch, when many farmers’ markets fell by the wayside. It has proved a magnet for local people but has also attracted customers from as far afield as London.
The pig and turkey enterprise was started in 1971 by Jonathan’s parents, Mike and Janet, who moved to the site from the Lavenham area, when it was a county council smallholding. Jonathan grew up there and joined as a partner in 1991, marrying Julie in 1997.
He met Julie at Writtle College in the last 1980s while he was studying agriculture and she was studying horticulture.
They rear around 6,500 turkeys for the Christmas market and their sows are outdoor, with progeny brought indoors to raise on straw.
The market, every second Saturday of the month with the exception of January, August and December, runs from from 9.30am to 12.30pm and usually attracts around 300 to 400 people.
“We are really proud of what we do. I’m very proud of the fact we are traceable and we do everything here ourselves,” said Julie.