Cliftonville Farmers’ Market: 21 years of local excellence

Long gone are days of toilet roll wars where social media was awash with people wrestling over the last pack of Andrex that Tesco had to offer, when growing fear of a deadly virus was bringing out the worst in humanity.

 

Where the shelves were barren and empathy running low but yet if you pop into any supermarket, shop, restaurant or even bar you’ll note absentees amongst the shelves, fridges and menus. A crisis of sorts is taking place as we speak, blame what you will but without getting into the divisive politics of it all we can agree that the supply chain is dependent on things from afar and now more than ever we need to buy and consume more local produce? With that in mind why don’t you consider popping along to an institution that is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, the Cliftonville Farmers’ Market; how’s it celebrating such a landmark? In the same way it’s done so throughout its history by continuing to offer the community local, fresh produce of the highest quality, as well as offering some of the most exciting and innovative local food producers a stage to engage with new and existing customers.

 

The world was a different place when Cliftonville Farmers’ Market was established back in 2001 by the Residents Association, the 00s after all were the probably the last decade of guilt-free mass-consumerism whereby the overall population didn’t give two flying figs where products came from and what they were packed in. Cliftonville too back in 2001 was a completely different place, and was far from the utopia of uber cool it seems to be today. However, the volunteers and the Market were there selflessly giving up their time freely and encouraging the sentiment of ‘shopping local’ long before it was fashionable to do so but the Market, like Cliftonville itself, has evolved with the times.

 

The staple stalls that were about in the 00s still play a vital part of course, your classics like your fruit and veg, award-winning game and meat (Stour Valley Game) your chutneys and jams (none better than Karly’s Kitchen) but like Cliftonville itself the market exhibits the new exciting ideas and businesses that are seeking custom here on the Kentish coast, businesses like; Lily Rose Macaroons, Made from Plants, Kentish Saffron, The Vegan Habit, and noting the change in consumer habits and concerns The Eco Shop (completely plastic free).

 

The market, like all good community assets that stand the test of time, is forever evolving and adapting, and the stalls mentioned above are just some of the terrific and friendly traders you’ll meet if you venture down to the Walpole Bay lawn on the last Sunday of any given month. During its time it’s been voted ‘Best Farmers Market in Kent’ on four different occasions and on six separate years has been named a finalist. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to shop local it’s won a Pride of Thanet Award in 2008, 2015 and in 2016. It’s an institution and one that deserves these column inches and it’s been managed by the same wonderful woman for its entirety: June Chadband.

 

June, who has volunteered 21 years of her life to the market, had the following message for our readers; “Turn Sunday shopping into a good day out! Go for a walk along the cliff tops, meander around the Farmers’ Market and shop. Relax in one of the many local hotels close by which serve excellent Sunday lunches or buy from the market and picnic on the lawns or on the sandy beach. The choice is yours”.

 

Keep it local and keep supporting the wonderful Cliftonville Farmers’ Market.

by Dave McKenna

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