How it all began
In 1999 Hampshire welcomed its very first farmers’ market in Winchester. The concept of farmers’ markets came from across the Atlantic, with the city of Bath being the first to pick up the potential new trend.
Francis Stokes of Hampshire County Council discovered Bath’s market and decided that there should be a Hampshire farmers’ market. With a little help from Mike Smales of Lyburn Cheese and Mike Woodhall, Hampshire Farmers’ Market (HFM) was launched.
Three years later, in 2002, Hampshire County Council gave HFM independence and we became a not for profit organisation.
Alex Handford, now business manager at HFM, joined in 1996 as temporary maternity cover: “I was supposed to be here six months, but I stayed!”
The same year, HFM became accredited by FARMA (Farmers Retail and Markets Association), giving their customers assurance that the markets were affiliated to an official and respected organisation. HFM still uses FARMA criteria guidelines today.
As popular as ever
It wasn’t long until the farmers’ market concept caught on and, before long more Hampshire towns were welcoming producers on to their high streets, market squares and car parks. In the late nineties, Sunday trading wasn’t fully established and council’s were trying to bring footfall into town centres. With the arrival of the markets, they certainly achieved that.
It’s fair to say a lot has changed over the last 17 years in terms of what we consumers like to buy, what we like to eat and how we like to eat it. There is certainly a great love of farmers’ markets. People love the idea of having a local one to them.
If you’re thinking of becoming a HFM member you’re not obliged to have a stall at every market happening in the county (not many of us can be in more than one place at once). Choose to do as many or as few as you like. What we do say is to think about setting up at more than one location. All our producers have fabulous products, which we think need to be shared with everyone in Hampshire. If you become a regular sight at one of our markets, you will begin to get regular customers too.
Most importantly, being part of Hampshire Farmers’ Markets is not just about the practicalities of setting up in the early morning of a Saturday or Sunday. Hampshire Farmers’ Markets is all about promoting our producers and their business.
We have some great people on hand with invaluable advice on finding the best route to market, from the technicalities of trading to giving members the confidence to keep on growing. Become a member
What our producers say
“Hampshire Farmers’ Markets have an amazing reputation, attended by like minded producers. We all want to be able to connect with the community who are interested in buying direct from the producer.”
Adam Bartlett, Pinch of Salt
“We hope we can inspire more people to think about beauty product provenance as well as where their food comes from too.”
Amy Thomas, Raw Soap Company