Donna Mackenzie runs Norfolk Farmers Markets, which starts tomorrow at Hethersett Village Hall. As someone who grew up in rural Norfolk, she explains how the ethos is to bring the markets to ‘forgotten’ villages
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to arrange a farmers’ market previously, from its inception. I loved the planning and meeting potential stallholders so much, I decided to start my own business running them full time. It’s a very proud feeling seeing an idea you came up with come to fruition.
Being a single parent, I was very much aware of others struggling with childcare, who were also running small businesses. I saw an opportunity to work the hours that fitted in around my children and gave local businesses somewhere to sell their items without the commitment of a bricks and mortar shop.
The ethos behind the markets is that we bring Farmers Markets to those ‘forgotten’ villages, many of the current Markets are centred around Norwich and the bigger towns.
Growing up in rural Norfolk, I was all too aware of the challenges of limited bus services in and out of villages that have little to no retail outlets. In bringing these markets to the villages, we hope to give residents of the villages the chance to experience a wider range of businesses that they may not normally have access to. It also gives customers the chance to meet the people behind the businesses, something that in everyday retail, doesn’t happen as much as it should. It also gives people the opportunity to come out and socialise, we have hot food, drink and plenty of cake! We hope that our stallholders will become regular friendly faces that people can pop in and have a chat with, even if they don’t want to buy.
There are a huge range of different stallholders, something for all tastes. Obviously, one of the main things that will entice customers is fresh produce and we are lucky enough to be joined by Primrose Farm Meats, who will cover our butchery side of things, they are new to farmers markets, and we are thrilled they are joining us. We also have fresh fruit and veg, plants, beers, gins, preserves, chocolatiers and a huge range of other food products. We also have local crafters and artists such as Nellies Art who designs bespoke items, all hand drawn and painted; greeting cards designed by Olive Blossom; candles from Melting Moments; one off pieces of jewellery from Happy Seashells and items for families with SEN children from 2SENmums.
Our first event is being held at Hethersett Village Hall, on Saturday November 5 from 9am-3pm. We also have other events being held at Taverham, Hoveton, Bowthorpe, Yaxham, Scarning, Hingham and Morley – to name but a few.
I believe it is very important to shop locally where we can, by shopping locally, people are having a direct impact on the lives of people they may already know, supporting a local business means that their money is going back into the community, and not to shareholders that they will be unlikely to ever meet.
By bringing these markets to the customers, we hope this also, not only raises awareness of the local businesses around them, but also may even have a small impact on saving fuel as they aren’t having to travel into the city.
I would like to see the markets continue to expand around the smaller villages, and in time perhaps into other counties. For me, it’s important that the markets retain their friendly, local nature and always feel like a welcoming place to come and shop.
Norfolk Farmers Market presents Hethersett Christmas Market at Hethersett Village Hall tomorrow (Saturday November 5) from 9am-3pm. Visit Norfolk Farmers’ Market UK on Instagram and Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org