Wellington Farmers’ Market is now open on two Saturdays each month (the first and the third) in the Scouts’ Hall behind Fore Street – good news for local people who value quality food, produced locally and to a high standard without the use of preservatives and additives of any kind.. It’s not only high quality produce but has come from the immediate locality with the smallest possible carbon footprint in terms of food miles.
On a wet and windy first Saturday in July there may be a smaller number of stallholders than usual but there’s still enough to tempt shoppers away from the supermarkets in their search for locally sourced produce – food that is produced organically on a small scale from farms, smallholdings and orchards nearby. And in a town like ours entirely surrounded by rich agricultural land there should be plenty on offer.
So, what’s available? Farmhouse Pies and Pasties Ltd sell a range of sweet and savoury pies – all organic and using free range meats and dairy produce – made in the kitchen at Yarde Farm near Killerton; Master butcher and farmer Michael Coate and his wife Anthea sell meat from their farm at Clayhidon. One of their regular customers said, “His beef is the tastiest you can buy – anywhere!” Michael Coate is also Chairman of the Farmers’ Market. Louise Perrin and Julian Fox from Legglands Orchards on Wellington Hill sell chutneys, preserves, juices and cordials, jams, marmalade and honey all made in a domestic kitchen from their own fruit trees, kitchen garden and hives. Chris Baker sells flowers, plants, bulbs, tubs, herbs and vegetable plants all self-grown at Poleshill, 3 miles from the town. You can buy fresh vegetables from Ray’s Veg, Hillfarance, fresh apple juices from the orchards at Redhill Farm, free-range eggs from Dean Barton and homemade cakes and scones from Vonnies. Sunhill Nurseries specialises in herbs and flowers – including wedding bouquets, wreaths and sprays – “All grown in our own glasshouses. None of them are shipped in from abroad!”.
One stallholder said, “There’s normally quite a few more of us here but the weather today is dreadful. Sam from Samuel’s Fresh Fish usually has a stall outside on the pavement but it’s just too wet and windy. You can get bread from Gilly’s and goats’ cheese and dairy produce from Libby’s. Come again in a couple of weeks and they’ll be here.”
The market may be small in comparison to its equivalent in, say, Taunton or Honiton and may have a lower profile on the High Street than it deserves due to its location. But it is popular with shoppers who are conscious of quality, of the environmental concerns of transporting food and other products around the globe and who want to support local producers rather than multinationals growing food on an industrial scale. It really deserves a better site – on the street maybe – or perhaps in the sadly underused Cornhill to bring it to the attention of more people in the town. Public demand has resulted in it extending its trading; public demand could well lead to it finding a better, more accessible and attractive location. “We’d love that!” said every stallholder.