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Diana Henry: how to spot a real farmer's market

The produce on display at Oval farmer's market
The produce on display at Oval farmer's market Credit: HAARALA HAMILTON

‘Cook it slow, that cut,” farmer Peter Gott advises a customer, while talking to me on his mobile. He has been at Kendal Farmers’ Market since 6am selling his lamb and wild boar, and now he’s off to check on things at a new Cumbrian farmers’ market in Grasmere.

It’s a small one – 15 stalls – and he helped set it up because people desperately wanted one. “We only have a Co-op,” says one of the market’s co-founders, Vicky Hughes. “Now we’re going to have farmers and food producers, all from within 50 miles, coming to our market. Honestly, we’re ecstatic.”

It’s good to hear this enthusiasm. The number of farmers’ markets has, according to the National Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association (FARMA), “plateaued”, and most (they estimate there are 850 to 900 across the UK) are finding it much harder than they used to. Footfall is lower and they’ve taken a PR hammering: the disillusioned deride...

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