Exploring Egerton Farmers’ Market

Egerton Farmers’ Marke is a weekly gathering of up to 25 stallholders held inside the Millennial Hal

Egerton Farmers’ Marke is a weekly gathering of up to 25 stallholders held inside the Millennial Hall - Credit: Archant

Working with Kent Farmers’ Market Association, we put a different market in the spotlight each month. November is Egerton

Claire Edwards uses traditional baking techniques to makes her range of artisan breads

Claire Edwards uses traditional baking techniques to makes her range of artisan breads - Credit: Archant

When a coach party of visitors from Germany and France visited a Kent Farmers’ Market earlier this year, you know that there is something special to be found. The visitors were introduced to Egerton Farmers’ Market, a weekly gathering of up to 25 stallholders in the heart of Kent not far from Ashford.

Perhaps they were also seeking out the amazing views across the Ashford Valley and Weald of Kent seen from the floor-to-ceiling windows of the Millennial Hall, or the cheery welcome from the tea and coffee stall with its delicious home-baked cakes, to enjoy sitting around cosy tables.

Gillian Lines, chair of Ashford Twinning Association, organised the visit of civic officials and delegates from Bad Müstereifel, Germany and Fougères in France. She says: “We brought a delegation of officials and guests to the market after a lunch at Biddenden Vineyard. Our guests very much enjoyed the Food & Drink theme of their visit this year, and seeing how a British Famers’ Market supports local producers.”

Christine Rawlinson serves tea and coffee and a range of home-baked cakes and scones which can be enjoyed with clotted cream and jam.

She is a farmer and also sells honey and knitting wool from her 30-strong breeding ewes flock of Romney sheep.

Market manager Sean Musson doubles up as a stallholder selling pet foods, accessories and wild bird feed. His stall greets you as enter the hall, with its colourful choice of accessories, feeders and his own-brand label of dog and cat food.

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Egerton Farmers’ Market has been part of community life since it started in 2003. Held every Friday afternoon, the market offers many local residents a chance to do much of their weekly shop.

Bread, cakes, cheese, seasonal fruits and vegetables are on sale alongside vegetarian and vegan food offered by Jane Apps and The Fat Carrot with dishes (look out for lemon and coriander hummus or Spanish orange and almond cake). With ample free parking, a children’s playground and open field, the market is well located as a meeting place.

Visitors are welcomed by colourful plant stalls run by Andrew of Low Wood Nursery. Inside, the hall has wooden beams that criss-cross the ceiling, huge windows and doors that open out onto the terrace. There’s even free wifi.

Debbie Ovenden from Marsh Produce fills three tables with a range of meat and game, seasonal fruit and veg from kale, potatoes, squashes and apples such as Russets, Red Wonder, Galas and Bramleys.

Claire Edwards uses traditional baking techniques and makes a range of artisan breads, including focaccia – made with Kentish rapeseed oil sourced from Pure Kent and Eckley Farms. She also bakes an unusual but delicious fruity crumb malt sourdough with beetroot and apple, using fresh ingredients sourced from within a few miles of the market. Also sold on Claire’s stall are sausage rolls made with prime cut, minced pork sourced from the prison farm at East Sutton Park.

Across the room, Jo Fairbanks makes and bakes a choice of three cakes, so a customer might be able to take home a slice of banana bread, coffee and walnut or some very moorish chocolate éclairs.

Jo says, “I started coming to the market just before picking my children up from the local primary school to catch up with friends. During the day we are busy working, looking after our horses and dogs, so this is great place to shop and chat. It’s a very welcoming market and although held indoors, we are always welcomed in our wet-weather gear.”

Most stalls sell food and drink products, although Lynn offers second hand books on behalf of Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Find out more

Egerton is a member of the Kent Farmers’ Market Association. You can visit the market every Friday, 2pm-4.30pm.

Find your local market at www.kfma.org.uk

What’s in season at the Farmers Market: November

As autumn moves towards winter, appetites change and we crave a little comfort food. Slow-cooked casseroles, creamy mashes, roasts and warming puds all fit the bill perfectly, so wrap up and head out to the market for inspiration. Look out for the cheaper cuts of locally produced beef, lamb and pork to use in casseroles. Shin of beef, belly pork, lamb neck or lamb shanks all cook down to meltingly wonderful mouthfuls. The game season is well under way for birds such as pheasant, partridge and wild duck, and venison and rabbit are also available Try a game mix in a pie. Root vegetables are at their best and perfect for mashes, gratins and soups – look out for parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, swede and turnips. Colder waters make for high-quality fish and seafood. Dover sole, turbot and halibut are rightly considered the very finest eating, but why not try some of the lower-cost alternatives, now at their best. Brill, for example, has a firm white flesh full of clean flavour that only needs simple cooking. Or opt for mackerel and herring, full of Omega 3 fish oils. It’s been a great year for fruit, with growers talking of bumper harvests, especially for apples. Kent fruit is full of flavour so make the most of its great taste in puds, cakes and jams.

Click here for this month’s seasonal farmers’ market recipe for dutch apple cake