December 12, 2012, by Malvika Johal
Best Food Market 2012!
By John Coffield (English Language & Literature 2011)
I went to Sutton Bonington campus, otherwise known as ‘the farm’ thanks to its faraway location and the subjects taught there, for the first time earlier this week (Wednesday 5th December). I was there for a couple of hours and returned carrying 18 sausages, a hunk of smoked pancetta, a game pie, two bottles of microbrewery ale, a bath bomb and some loose-leaf tea. No, I hadn’t raided a Fortnum and Mason supply truck; I had paid a visit to the Sutton Bonington Christmas Farmers’ Market.
The SB farmers’ market is now a popular once-a-month occurrence in term time, bringing together a range of local suppliers of quality goods and foodstuffs for the benefit of those who live on or near the SB campus. It was originally set up through a Cascade funding grant with the help of the OKA (Old Kingstonians’ Association, SBC’s alumni association), and has snowballed to the point where last month it won the award for ‘best market’ in the BBC’s nation-wide Food and Farming Awards. It’s certainly thoroughly deserving of this accolade; the expanded Christmas market consisted of over 30 stalls selling everything from home-made candles to crème caramels, all supplied with friendly, farm-shop service and a warm smile. The place was bustling, and I was hard-pressed to get round to everyone and try every sample I could get my hands on due to the eager throngs surrounding me.
There really was something for everyone – I was sorely tempted by bundles of wool produced by one stallholder’s own sheep, The Really Good Cheese Co. did exactly what their sign said, and Tan Rosie produced fudges of every variety – including chilli fudge that looked innocent enough but was so hot I was surprised it didn’t just spontaneously combust! Add to that a stall selling delicious pies of every description and a man who made furniture with a foot-operated lathe (which he also built himself) , plus all the usual staples of a farmers’ market, and it’s a wonder that I didn’t come back with even more produce! And, just to debunk the notion that locally sourced quality food is expensive compared to a trip to the supermarket, my haul only cost me £20.
The market wasn’t all farmers though; volunteers from the University’s student body and health services were running stalls as part of the ‘Healthy U’ drive, aimed at encouraging students to be more aware of their health, encouraging use of the University counselling service, safer drinking and getting tested. An array of freebies on the stalls helped to ensure that students (always suckers for free things) would stop by and take in some of the literature.
The organisers are taking a break for the Christmas period, but the farmer’s market is back on the 6th February 2013, and I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area.