Somerset Farmers Markets are 20 years old
Our friends at Somerset Farmers Markets can be found at the Boyles Cross in Market Place at every edition of The Frome Independent, as well as other market towns across the county. This amazing collective of local farmers, growers and food producers was set up 20 years ago as a sustainable source of locally and ethically produced food for the communities in the Somerset area. Their focus has always been on low food miles, buying seasonally and supporting local producers and ethical farming practices. Read on for a bit of history on SFM, and how they plan to carry their message of sustainability into the future.
“Unless you have been with us from the start you may not be aware of our origins so please read on…
As we step into our 3rd decade trading as SFM Ltd we are mindful of reflecting on our original purpose and role within the local agricultural and food economy and the need to re-evaluate and update our intent. Since we were formed the environmental issues become ever more urgent, the effects of climate change and plastic pollution more apparent, and many species of wildlife extinct or in danger of extinction.
We were ‘created’ from Agenda 21 money as a direct result of the 1st Climate change summit in Rio de Janeiro when the United Nation member states developed an action plan that each local government area should draw up its own plan to ‘act locally’ to prevent climate change by promoting local initiatives focusing on sustainable development and counteracting the damaging effects of globalisation.
So in our small way we began pioneering within the county of Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset a network of Farmers markets supporting local food production, aiming to reverse the demise of small family farms and re-introducing the concept of buying local food directly from farmers and growers, brewers, cider makers, cheesemakers, bakers, chefs, foragers , and preserve makers. This involved building up trust and local loyalty towards our farmers and food producers who have high welfare standards, good conservation methods and serve as an antidote to mass produced imported supermarket food with no added value to the local environment and often little nutritional value for the consumer.
We enforced strict low mileage criteria and asked that non farmers use local ingredients in their produce wherever possible or fairly traded otherwise. We have over the years also encouraged customers to bring their own bags or purchase one of the 4,000 re-usable jute bags which we have had available over the last 10 years.
However we all recognise that the spotlight is now ‘urgently’ on reducing single use, non- renewable plastics which end up in landfills or in the oceans suffocating the sea life. So we are urging our members to evaluate their packaging used to ensure that it can be, re-cycled, re-used, compostable or biodegradable depending on their produce.
We will share the good practice of our existing members and encourage new members to start off using the most environmentally friendly packaging for their product.
Finally we will also continue to applaud our many customers who bring their own re-usable bags and are beginning to bring along their own containers and drinks containers!”
Somerset Farmers Markets can be found next to the Boyles Cross at every edition of The Frome Independent, as well as at towns across Somerset. For full information and dates visit www.somersetfarmersmarkets.co.uk