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Spook Night comes to Hexham!

This Saturday, 26 October 2019, isn’t just the date of the next Hexham Farmers’ Market, it is also the day for the popular Hexham Spook Night. To allow for the set up of some of the rides on the Market Place our farmers’ market will close at the slightly earlier time of 12noon.

To celebrate all things spooky Hexham Farmers’ Market will be doing a ‘Guess the weight of the pumpkin‘ competition. It’s free for anyone to enter and the prize at the end of the market is the pumpkin concerned. You will also be able to pick up a range of pumpkin recipes, courtesy of Food Durham, to encourage you to think of pumpkins as food, not just decoration, and to highlight the scandal of food waste. You can share your ideas for using your pumpkin in cooking on social media using #PumpkinRescue.

The pumpkin will be supplied by Richard from East Grange Farm in County Durham, whose Pick Your Own pumpkin patch will be open between 10am and 3pm every day between Saturday 26 and Thursday 31 October

Hexham Farmers’ Market celebrates 20 years

Customers and producers at Hexham Farmers’ Market celebrate the market’s 20th anniversary on Saturday 28 September with music, a full set of producers and, of course, cake!

The market which is one of the oldest in the region, was started by a few local producers who were looking for new ways of connecting direct with consumers.  It allowed them to talk to their customers about the way they farm, how their products are produced and to make it easier for people to buy local. Hexham Farmers’ Market has maintained that ethos and still all producers are from within about 50 miles of Hexham, they make the produce they sell and there will always be someone on the stall who can talk with knowledge and expertise about the produce on sale.  Two important arguments for shopping at Hexham Farmers’ Market were, and continue to be, that by having a direct connection with producers, customers have access to food they can trust, and shopping at a farmers’ market puts money direct into the local economy.  In recent years the issue of climate change and the nature emergency have been added to concerns and farmers’ markets play a role in that too. Carbon emissions associated with both producion and transport of food at the market are much reduced.

At this Saturday’s farmers’ market there will be a full complement of the current producers, some of whom have been coming for all of those 20 years.  Two of the very first group of producers, Hexham Country Markets (who started off as the Farmers’ Wives) and Cumberland Mustard, still regularly attend and at least half of the producers have been coming for more than 10 years.

Louise English of Hexham Country Markets, and Director of Hexham Farmers’ Market Ltd said: Things have changed quite a lot since those very early days. We started at the Hexham Mart and were there for about two years before we relocated to the Market Place.  At that time the County Council would put up the stalls but we’ve been using our own stalls and gazebos for a few years now. I’m delighted the market has continued to thrive.’

Hexham Farmers’ Market will celebrate with performances from young musicians Samantha and Emma Bull from Byrness, and from members of the Tynedale Community Choir.  The arriversary cake will be cut at about 11.45 and shared with customers and producers.

To celebrate Hexham Farmers’ Market has also created a special calendar for 2020 with images from a very wide range of producers at the market and giving all the farmers’ market dates for next year.  The calendar will be on sale from the first market in October onwards.

Peter Samsom, the market manager since 2009 said: ‘Hexham Farmers Market is a very special community of local producers and loyal customers who care about their food, where it comes from, how it’s produced and what goes into it. We have an amazing group of loyal customers who turn up in good weather and bad and I’m pleased to say that people have become friends over those years.  We very much look forward to coninuing to be here for many years to come.’

Hexham Farmers’ Market on Tour

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations customers of Hexham Farmers’ Market  will have an opportunity to have a look behind the scene of a few of the regular producers at the market starting withg Ravensworth Grange Farm near Gateshead on Saturday 17 August followed by Slackhouse Farm near Gilsland on Wednesday 28 August.  To book a place on these exclusive opportunities you need to contact the farms direct and contacts are given at the end of this post.

Ravensworth Grange Farm is the home of Ann and Hugh Gray.  The product they are reknown for at the market is pork from their Middle White pigs.  Middle White pigs are a rare breed which the Rare Breeds Survival Trust classifies as endangered which means that there are only 100-200 breeding sows in the country. Middle Whites are very friendly and produce exceptionally nice pork. As well as seeing the animals you will be help finish off making a bird box to replace some of the existing ones on the farm, Ann will talk about the wildlife and plants on the farm and about sustainable food production.  She’ll also lay on a barbeque! You can contact Ann by emailing annandhughie@gmail.com and booking is essentia as there are only a couple of places left.  The open day at Ravensworth Grange starts at 2pm.

Dianne and Eric Horn run Slackhouse Farm near Gilsland and produce Birdosward Cheese, yoghurt and raw unpasteurised milk from their Ayrshire cows.  The farm is run organically and certified by the Soil Association.  Birdoswald cheese is made to a Dunlop recipe which was originally from the Ayrshire area and is ideal from sweet Ayrshire cows milk. In addition to the cows Dianne and Eric also have hens and sell eggs.  Dianne and Eric will do two tours on 28 August with an overlap at lunch time.  Booking is again essential and you can contact them on slackhouseorganicfarm@gmail.com.

We hope to have another couple for tour dates and venues later in the year.

Our first June market promises to be a good’un

The Northumberland Honey  Company will be bringing their observation hive to the market on Saturday 8 June 2019. The observation hive will everyone to have a look at bees and their society in the hive close-up and with the risk of getting stung!

The market promises to be full of other excitement too: we’ve got guest stalls from Philippa Hodkinson bringing Northumberland-grown cut flowers and Vicky Armitage who runs Meraki Cacao and produces high quality chocolate bars.  In addition we have all the usual favourites, ranging from Bread and Roses’ every popular loaves to Northumbrian Preserves with their locally produced jams and chutneys.

Finally we’re really excited that we’ve got the Tarset Song Reivers community choir to come an sing some of their fabulous songs (and if you look carefully you might spot our market manager Peter among them!)

All in all it looks like an exciting line-up and we’re keepingh our fingers crossed that the day doesn’t turn out to be too wet. It might be prudent to bring a brolly!

Farming comes to town

As part of the Hexham Spring Festival on Saturday 23 April 2019 the NFU will bring British farming into the heart of the town.  They will be taking over a large chunk of the Sele park by the band stand and will be bringing a variety of famer animals such as pigs, sheep and lambs and chick as well as some of the crops grown in the UK.  Therre will be plenty to see and do.

Hexham Farmers’ Market which is also on, is also about the great products from the UK and indeed from our part of it.  You’ll find beef reared on the hills around Bewcastle, milk and cheese from Ayrshire cattle grazing near Gilsland, pork from Middle White pigs from just outside Gateshead and flour milled from grains grown in Northumberland used in the bread.  The organic fruit and veg come from just south of Barnard Castle in County Durham and fruit in jams and chutneys grown in local allotments and gardens.  Even the wool in some of the garments comes from sheep which have grazed ine hills iof the North Tyne Valley.

By supporting the stallholders at Hexham Farmers’ Market and by buying British produce in general, you support your local economy and build stringer relationships between farmers, food producers and customers.

The Hexham Spring Fair also offers a range of other entertainment such as family bushcraft, music, wood craft activities, facepainting and Morris dancing on the Abbey Flags.  The festival runs between 9am and 4.30pm, Hexham Farmers’ Market between 9am and 3pm.

We have a winner!

Our hamper draw for customers to the farmers’ market on Saturday 13 April 2019 had a local winner: Sue Reed from near Bardon Mill. One of Sue’s tickets was first out the box at the draw at about quarter to one on Saturday.  Sue used to trade at the market as the Woolly Pedlar and she was delighted to receive her farmers’ market goodies.

Our prize draw proved to be a real success with hundreds of tickets going into the draw and many customers being amazed that the the entry was free to anyone buying at the market on the day.  Hexham Farmers’ Market producers were very happy to contribute as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to all the customers who support the market through all weathers. Many of them have been coming for years and we even spoke to someone who came to the very first one in 1999!

We are looking to do a similar activity sometime during the summer, so keep your eye on the website and on our social media.