Westbury-On-Trym Local Produce Market, Channells Hill, Bristol
A New Market is Born, September 22nd, 2007
photograph copyright ChrisB
When I found out that a new local produce market was opening three miles from my parents house in Bristol, England, this past Saturday, I insisted we should go and check it out. As someone who normally does all their food shopping at what is perhaps one of the most well known Farmers Market in the world, in San Francisco, I couldn't wait to compare and contrast the two.
When we reached the school where the farm stands were set up in the playground, the place was buzzing with the excitement of new. Families, couples, mums with pushchairs middle-aged and elderly people had all stopped by to welcome this new market into their community.
I had no idea what to expect or how the small English local market would size up to San Francisco's juggernaut of a Famers' Market. The two couldn't really be more different. San Francisco wins hands down when it comes to vegetables and fruit. In fact, the Westbury-On-Trym market unfortunately had not managed to attract any vegetable produce sellers at all for their opening day.
But the meat, oh the meat, eat your heart out San Francisco. Pork bellies, hand made sausages, bacon, rabbit, venison, lamb, chickens, duck eggs, beef dripping and more. It was meat heaven. "Where is this venison from"? I asked the gentleman, from Gales Farm, pictured above. "It's from the Badminton Estate", he replied, "I shot it myself". The Badminton Estate is less than 20 miles away, and at once every Bristolian can picture exactly where their food might be coming from. And you meet the man who killed the animal you are going to eat. This is a rare treasure for a Californian dweller whose meats meet their demise only in an official abattoir.
By the time we had arrived, an hour after the market had opened, Farmer Dave from Cotswold Edge Farm (14 miles away from my parents house) had already sold out of chicken eggs so we opted for his large, white duck eggs instead. I asked him if his birds are allowed to run free outside. Of course, he said, they they make a right mess and you have to be careful where you are walking!
I wasn't thinking straight at the time otherwise I would have bought a jar of his beautiful looking pickled eggs (you can spot them in the back of the photograph above) to take back to my friend Cookiecrumb in Marin, who I am pretty sure would have absolutely loved them. I am kicking myself for not having thought of it at the time. This Westbury-On-Trym Market is due to run only once a month and if I am still stuck in the UK waiting for my visa stamp by the time the next one comes around at the end of October, I am pretty sure that forgetting to buy Cookiecrumb pickled eggs will be the least of my problems.
Or shall I stay here anyway, just for a meatfest redux?