March 25, 2008
If you miss the weekend farmers' markets in Oxford and you've forgotten to order your veg box delivery for the week (yes on both counts, hence the visit), you might just do better carbon-footprint-wise to nip out with some friends to this Thursday afternoon market than to drive to the supermarket. Produce on offer this visit included apple juice, vegetables (spuds, onions, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, garlic, brassicas, salad, peppers, tomatoes), fruit (including bananas), dairy produce, frozen meat (mainly the farm's home-grown lamb, but they also have their own pork), eggs, jam, honey and other preserves, and home-made cakes at extraordinarily reasonable prices (£3.50 for a whole round coffee cake!). Effectively a friendly grocers in a freezing farmyard shed (there's a lovely little woodburning stove in the middle to keep things from icing over completely), the main difference between this and a conventional market is that everything on offer is grown on the farm itself or locally or sustainably sourced, and - in terms of the fresh produce - organic. So, no supermarket label-checking for ingredients or distance travelled, and no hunting out the right little corner of the shop where your item is hiding - here you can pick up whatever you want and know that it was produced to high environmental standards, and that in buying it you are also supporting the local economy.
If you go this month you might also be lucky enough to spot some very new additions to the farm: it's lambing time, and visitors are welcome to go and see the ewes and their very cute offspring in the lambing sheds. Our Easter dinner of lamb chops, mashed potato, onions and salad was entirely from the market, and it was absolutely delicious! (Sorry, vegetarians!)
If you're organised, you can save yourself the trip out of town by going to East Oxford Farmers & Community Market on Manzil Way on Saturdays between 12 and 3pm, as Sandy Lane run the veg stall there every other week.