What’s on at Knockholt Farmers’ Market

Goodies from Winsford House Produce (photo: Severien Vits)

Goodies from Winsford House Produce (photo: Severien Vits) - Credit: Archant

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

Knockholt Farmers' Market is held on the lawn at Coolings Garden Centre (photo: Severien Vits)

Knockholt Farmers' Market is held on the lawn at Coolings Garden Centre (photo: Severien Vits) - Credit: Archant

You would expect a perfectly manicured lawn in front of a top-notch garden centre such as Coolings, Knockholt. But if you are on a plant buying trip, on the last Saturday of the month you will find said grass adorned with stalls, overflowing with mouthwatering goodies; this is market day.

The Farmers' Market is managed by Sally Ross and Anne Marriner who also run crafts and antiques fairs here at Coolings. Anne not only oversees proceedings, but she also runs a fruit and vegetable stall with produce from a selection of local growers.

Although stalls are limited in number, you can get all you need for a weekend's shop along with soaps from Lou Lou Bella and something for your canine pal, all while having your knives brought back to life by the guys at Sharpening Solutions.

If you're after a joint for your Sunday roast, then go immediately to the Renhurst Farm stall and see Annabelle, who is surrounded by eggs, pies, chicken, beef, lamb and pork, all from her family farm in Marks Cross. Undoubtedly, you will have to join a queue, which was incessant the day we were there. When commenting upon this, one lady with two big baskets ready for filling piped up "that's because everything they sell is delicious and great value."

Jeremy Ridley of JR'’s kitchen (photo: Severien Vits)

Jeremy Ridley of JR'’s kitchen (photo: Severien Vits) - Credit: Archant

Annabelle says that she has a lot of regulars and gets to know their favourite items. "Some come just for eggs or bacon and others will buy in bulk - we can do half a lamb for £60 and break it down for them".

A heavenly looking pork pie is being tasted at JR's kitchen. Jeremy Ridley is the maker with a story. A career in City banking came to a halt when Jeremy turned 50 and had one of those lightbulb moments, which resulted in him heading off at quite a tangent. In fact, straight into a Cordon Bleu cookery course which led to his new career of pies, pasties, Scotch eggs and chutneys.

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"I am happier doing this than I ever was. Currently everything is made at home in my kitchen, but my business brain is telling me we need to expand and see how we can grow this now." He won't divulge his 'secret' spice mix in the pasties but is having fun testing new recipes and playing with locally grown ingredients.

At the Winsford House Produce stall, marmalades, jams and pickles in smart jars are piled high and having to be constantly restocked by Jane Coia and her husband Stewart. Jane has been in the catering business for years, working in pubs and restaurants and even a spell in the kitchens here at Coolings, but decided to turn a hobby into a business at the beginning of the year. Unusual flavour combinations stand out such as banana marmalade, peach and ginger chutney and lemon preserve with a hint of gin. And don't miss the delicious hand-made fudge and savoury biscuits.

The cheeses from High Weald dairy are also proving to be a hit. Mark can tell you about each one in detail and I can confirm that Brighton Blue is deep in flavour and delicious, Little Sussex is a popular sheep's cheese and the Saint Giles, a medium soft French style, is great for cooking. The dairy also offers cheesemaking classes for those who want to get their hands dirty.

Dessert could be a magnificent strawberry tart from S and S Patisserie washed down with a juice or wine from Iron Railway.

Kent and Sussex coast fish is available from Ffrench's and fabulous sourdoughs from Chalk Hills Bakery are being clutched by several happy shoppers.

Towards closing time, market manager Sally chats to sellers and customers while her dog Trixie, keeps trying to reach a stall selling natural canine treats. "100 per cent kidney, liver or heart is air dried and nothing else is added" explains Lisa, who owns the company with friend Sam. "We came up with the brand name while at a yoga retreat - it had to be this really." And Trixie did, indeed, seem delighted with her reward from Downward Dog.

Find out more

The market is held on the last Saturday of the month at renowned garden centre Coolings of Knockholt.

Check the website for details