When will Farmers’ Markets reopen in Suffolk?
- Credit: Archant
Farmers’ markets play an important role in our economy and community cohesion. As lockdown eases we take a look at when local markets will be open to supply fresh produce to customers
As lockdown starts to ease people are looking forward to a return to normality – or a new normal – with social distancing in place but with people able to get out and re-connect with their communities. One way that will help people re-establish links with their friends and neighbours, while helping to maintain healthy eating habits is the return of farmers’ markets.
Justine Paul, winner of the 2019 Clarissa Dickson Wright Award for staging Suffolk’s leading farmers’ markets, has announced that three of her regular markets are to re-open in June with a fourth expected to start trading again in July.
She said that Hadleigh Farmers’ Market, although greatly scaled back, has continued to provide much needed produce to the public every Friday throughout lockdown but now it is to be joined by farmers’ markets in Sudbury and Lavenham with the hope that Bury St Edmunds farmers’ market would be added in July.
She stressed that social distancing measures would be put in place at all the markets to ensure that both traders and customers were kept safe at all times.
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“We normally run six farmers’ markets a month and we shut all but Hadleigh when lockdown was announced. We kept Hadleigh running because we scaled back the size and were able to run it in a safe secure way and limited to essential food stalls only.
“As a result of our experience with Hadleigh I am confident we can run other farmers’ markets safely as we come out of lockdown, particularly wit extra Covid-19 regulations in place to protect everyone.
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“We have had a brilliant response from Sudbury Town Council and the Friends of St Peter’s Church where we hold the market, so we are re-opening in Sudbury on June 26 and we are going to have a small number of stalls inside the church and we will strictly control the numbers going in and we will have plenty of hand sanitiser available and we will insist on social distancing. Outside the church we will have a greater number of stalls on Market Hill and we are hoping that the Town Council’s application for a pedestrianisation order will come through.
“Lavenham Farmers’ Market will be coming back on June 28 and the village hall can’t be used at the moment but we are setting out a number of stalls on the car park and once again social distancing will be in place and there will be plenty of hand sanitiser available.”
Justine said that she felt disappointed that plans to also open Bury St Edmunds Farmers’ Market had to be put back after she was unable to come to an agreement with West Suffolk Council.
“Sadly, I find it quite frustrating that we can’t open Bury St Edmunds Farmers’ Market in June. When they announced that the main market was re-opening, I contacted West Suffolk Council and explained all the extra protection I was putting in place, cutting the number of stalls in half, a new placement map and it was very upsetting that they came back and said that we couldn’t open until at least July.”
A Council spokesperson said: “We are bringing back all the markets in a gradual fashion to make sure it is safe to do so. Our priority is reducing infection rates while helping businesses to re-open safely. This week saw our markets reopen with just essential produce with Bury St Edmunds having a handful of stalls that were well spaced out. In the following weeks we will be looking to bring back other stalls and make sure the strict safety and hygiene measures, including social distancing can be put in place.
“The farmers market wanted to put 20 stalls in the heart of the town at two metres apart. Before we could put that number of stalls in Bury St Edmunds with the number of people from outside the area that may attract we need to make sure the plans are safe and fit in with the measures being taken by surrounding businesses in the town and not done in isolation. Over the forthcoming weeks as more businesses open in the town centres there will be even more demand for the use of public spaces and highways to help with queuing and social distancing. We look forward to having the Farmers Market back but need this to be done in a safe and planned manner.”
Hadleigh Farmers’ Market is held every Friday, Sudbury resumes on June 26 and Lavenham will re-start on June 28.