Sunday, May 18, 2008

Oakwood Farmers' Market

Sat 17 May 2008

Yes, it seems as though farmers' markets are popping up everywhere, and a friend mentioned that one was held once a month at the Oakwood Clock. I used to live in Roundhay, so I'm pretty familiar with the area and was a little sceptical about how it would all work - I couldn't imagine there'd be enough space!

The Oakwood Farmers' Market+ is organised by the Roundhay Environmental Action Project and is a great example of what a motivated group of residents can achieve. The market is plastic bag free (I'm not sure I've seen so many 'bags for life' in one spot at any one time!) and has the full range of vittals: eggs, meat, bread (if you're prepared to queue for it), cheese and vegetables. I was really impressed!

You can see more photos on Flickr.

I ended up coming away with a bunch of monstrous asparagus spears from Woodside Farm in Acaster Malbis (near York), which made a simple supper - grilled and smothered in melted butter and lemon juice. I also bought some plaice (perhaps not the soundest of choices, but at least we're not in the spawning season and it was quite a large one), which has done for lunch, pan fried in plenty of butter and topped with brown butter and crispy sage leaves (also from the market - a huge bunch of huge leaves for just 60p), and a box of eggs.

Now, let's talk about the eggs. I bought half a dozen large free range eggs for £1. The same stall (Church View Farm Eggs, from Agbrigg, near Wakefield) was offering extra large for £1.20, and also selling bantam, goose and duck eggs. Normally, I would have no idea about whether this was expensive or not, but yesterday's Guardian ran an article about rising food prices*: apparently, a dozen free range eggs in one of the UK's largest supermarkets (one of the ones where the advertising would have us believe how cheap it is) costs £2.58. That's a pretty hefty percentage increase for the dubious privilege of buying from a supermarket - and I'd be willing to bet that the farmers aren't seeing anywhere near £2. In fact, in my local supermarket most of the eggs seem to be French ...

The Oakwood Farmers' Market+ also offers advice on sustainable living (the "+") and yesterday they had a wormery display: I only found out about this after I left, so no photos I'm afraid. The website is updated regularly, and you can find out details of guest stalls (such as yesterday's asparagus) in advance. They also have a shopper of the month competition! As it's quite a small market, there's plenty of overflow in the shops along Oakwood Parade: shopping over we stopped for coffee at Timoney's and had to sit outside or face a 15-20 minute wait for an inside table.

The next market is 21 June (starting at 9:30 - I know it's early but there's plenty of coffee and breakfast type food available!) and we'll definitely be going along. It also reminds me to make sure I visit the next Headingley market, as I needn't even catch a bus to get to it!

1. Woodside Farm PYO, Appleton Road, Acaster Malbis, YO2 1XA, phone 01904 704 646, open from mid June to August for soft fruit and potatoes, and also looking for fruit pickers
2. Church View Farm Eggs, 31 Church View, Agbrigg, WF1 5AL

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*Personally I think much of this article is quite flawed - for Eating Leeds purposes I'm just interested in how much cheap food can cost in the supermarket!
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