Exploring Yalding farmers’ market

Gary and Lorraine Curd: a family tradition of market gardening (photo: Severien Vits)

Gary and Lorraine Curd: a family tradition of market gardening (photo: Severien Vits) - Credit: Archant

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

Fishmonger Roy Ferris from Two Suns (photo: Severien Vits)

Fishmonger Roy Ferris from Two Suns (photo: Severien Vits) - Credit: Archant

Twelve times a year on the third Saturday of the month the picturesque high street of Yalding welcomes stallholders offering bread, fish, meat and a tempting array of locally grown fruit and vegetables.

Take away the cars and traffic, and the scene is reminiscent of a market a 100, even 200 years ago. Once surrounded by hop fields, now soft fruit and apple and pear farms, Yalding hosts its popular Farmers’ Market with around 12 stalls regularly taking pitches, many of them living and working within a six-mile radius.

A busy refreshment stall, run each month by a different village organisation, serves bacon and sausage rolls, fruit juices and tea and coffee and is very much the social centre of the market, which has been running for the past 18 years.

Approaching from the top of the High Street, customers are greeted by a spectacular display of garden plants and flowers from Low Wood Nursery run by Andrew and Mary Lerwell. Further along is Matthew Noakes, a beekeeper who is turning his hobby into a successful business selling honey and uses his own produce in his home cooking and baking

The smell and sight of freshly baked bread is from Southborough-based Rusbridge Family Bakery, which offers traditional and specialty breads including rye and spelt and herb and tomato loaf.

Get picking: the blackberry season is at full height (photo: Getty Images)

Get picking: the blackberry season is at full height (photo: Getty Images) - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Brian Harvey has been involved with the market for the past 10 years and now volunteers as its manager. “Our customers like the idea that all our stalls sell only food and drink, and we work hard with our stallholders to ensure we offer the best possible produce,” he says. “Each month a different local group makes and bakes, selling cakes, teas and coffee to raise funds. There are more than 100 different special interest groups across the village.”

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There is also a working blacksmith near the lower end of the market, who can often be seen on market days shoeing horses and clanking metal on metal.

Other popular stalls include Kent Collection, run by Paola Rigolli and Dalton Hopper, who together produce a range of hand-made traditional artisan charcuterie, from salamis and saucissons to whole legs of Parma-style ham referred to as ‘Kent Ham’. Sourcing their meat from local farmers rearing pigs fed on spent brewers grain from a local brewery’s, whey from local cheese makers and fruit provides a delicious range of flavours – which won the company a coveted Kent Life Food & Drink Awards’ Food Producer of the Year.

From their village base in Oak Apple Farm, the Curd family have been market gardeners in Yalding for three generations. Gary, whose grandfather started with a stall outside his house selling fruit and veg, now runs a stall with his wife Lorraine.

Locally based open women’s prison East Sutton Park encourages rehabilitation and training through food and farming with the women gaining experience on a working farm, in butchery, horticulture, gardens and catering. The inmates sell prison farm meat from their stall, including pork joints, belly pork and several flavours of sausages; a favourite is the Yalding Hopper made with locally grown hops.

Recipe: braised beef with butternut squash mash (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Recipe: braised beef with butternut squash mash (photo: Manu Palomeque) - Credit: Archant

The farm keeps rare breed pigs, sheep, beef cattle and livery horses. Popular items include its highly acclaimed range of sausages, prepared at the prison butchery and in commercial kitchens.

Roy Ferris from Two Suns Quality Fish has been attending the market for three years and has built up a loyal local group of customers. “As the seasons move into autumn we expect to be selling lots of Dover sole, skate wings, plaice and turbot. It’s enjoyable sharing tips on how to prepare and cook different types of fish and shellfish,” says Ray. “Our customers at Yalding are keen to try new recipes and are always curious about what’s in season.”

Find out more

Yalding is a member of the Kent Farmers’ Market Association. You can visit the market on the third Saturday of the month, 10am-1pm at ME18 6HX.

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

What’s in season at the Farmers’ Market: September

By Bob Taylor

The heat and lack of water of the last few months has had an affect on many crops, some good some not. As the kids head back to school, the pleasures of heartier dishes tempt us back into the kitchen to enjoy the harvest bounty. Fish and seafood are plentiful this month and very reasonably priced. Look out for crab, mussels and prawns – and it’s the start of the native oyster season too.

The changing season also heralds a longing for richer, comforting meat dishes so do try local game this year, particularly venison. It’s the perfect free-range meat; minimum food miles, low in cholesterol and full of useful vitamins. Cheaper cuts such as belly pork, shin of beef and lamb shank all taste particularly good. Or for lighter meat, try guinea fowl.

With tomatoes, courgettes, peas, sweetcorn, cauliflowers, runner beans and onions all plentiful and cheap right now, try making your own chutneys and pickles. Winter squashes and pumpkins have all arrived, in an amazing array of shapes and sizes, different flavours and textures; try in soups, curries, gratins and risottos. This is also the season for Kentish cobnuts and walnuts. Tree fruit are at their best and juiciest so don’t miss plums, damsons and greengages, and the blackberry season is also at its height.

Recipe: Braised beef with butternut squash mash


3 kilo rib of beef

1 pt home-made beef stock

1 pt ale or stout

1 x onion

1 x carrot

½ head of celery

½ leek

Small sprig of Rosemary and Thyme

1 tbsp tomato purée

1 tbsp redcurrant jelly

500g butternut squash

300g potatoes (red Desirée or Maris piper)

Root veg: parsnip, swede and carrots



(prep: 24 hrs for the beef)

The meat main dish guests will enjoy at this October’s Kent Life Food & Drink Awards, created by Michelle Rayner, head chef at our venue, the Ashford International Hotel (p85).

Seal the rib of beef in a frying pan until golden brown all over, place into a deep casserole dish.

Pour the stock and ale over the beef, add the roughly cut onion, carrot, celery, leek, rosemary and thyme. Cover and place into a pre-heated oven at 180ºC for 40 mins then turn down to 140ºC for around five hours. Check at two-hourly intervals that there is still plenty of cooking liquor to keep the meat covered and moist

Remove the beef from the oven and allow to for 30-45 mins in the cooking liquor. Lay out three strips of clingfilm about the length of your arm, overlapping slightly. Place the beef in a bowl and, using a fork, gently pull the beef apart into strips. Add around 6floz (1 cup) of the cooking liquor mixed into the beef, place onto the clingfilm and form a tube-like shape, then roll the clingfilm around tightly to make a roulade shape. Twist the ends of the clingfilm until tight and leave overnight in the fridge. Save the rest of the juices for the sauce. Remove the clingfilm from the beef and cut into 1 in pieces, place onto a baking tray and cover. Heat the cooking liquor, add the redcurrant jelly and tomato purée. Bring to the boil and simmer around half a hour or until reduced to a nice gravy consistency.

Peel and chop the root vegetables, coat with honey, thyme, oil, salt and pepper and place onto a baking tray and roast for around 45 mins at 180ºC.

Peel the butternut squash and potatoes into chunky pieces and bring to the boil. Place the beef in the oven to reheat, mash the potato mix when ready (around 15-20 mins).

Strain the rich, reduced gravy and plate all the components.

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