Small Business Column: The rise of farmers’ markets

In this week’s column Kehlan looks at the rise and rise of farmers’ markets and how they are becoming the place to be on your weekend mornings.

Small Business Column: The rise of farmers’ markets

What a change we’ve had in Ireland in just two decades. GAA and Mass held a more prominent place in the hearts and minds of many people. Since then we’ve had a technological revolution, an economic frenzy, an economic nightmare, and (at last) some sort of recovery.

The stories of GAA and Mass have gone in divergent directions and with the absence of the community meeting place in the local church, Ireland looked for a new place to fill the void. The farmers’ market is fast becoming the place for all to meet.

There is something entirely refreshing and rustic about a farmers’ market, a place where technology and wifi are of no consequence. They hark back to a time when we produced from the ground and appreciated the work that went into tilling a field or raising animals. They show us that it’s OK to slow down, to appreciate.

Fresh produce, art, handmade craft, and even a hangover cure breakfast is there if you need it. Communities are coming together, curious to see the makers and the doers in their area. You can talk to the farmer who grew the vegetables, see where the sculpture got inspiration, or test the tastebuds with something new. Don’t forget the smells as well: Fresh bread and chutneys beside chocolate and brie — the flavours are in the air before they hit your mouth.

In Ennis, Co Clare, approval has recently been granted for a €1.75m market rejuvenation project, which will create a space centred on the market. That kind of investment shows faith in something that, up until recently, was looking for a good spot on the street to sell products. Entirely glass-roofed, the plans look impressive, a good omen for the future. The English Market in Cork and Milk Market in Limerick are impressive sites too.

In the growth of markets we see that we want the real and the tangible, that processed is for convenience but not for you.

If you have a local market near you I urge you to take the time to pay it a visit. Immerse yourself in the experience, talk to people. This is the new food experience. Demand is growing for the ‘real food’ which comes from our locality.

The markets themselves are also proving to be fertile ground for those looking to improve their product and take it on to the next level. I have seen so many success stories which started with a small stall in the farmers’ market. This is food deserving of thought.

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