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Food for thought - 600 people enjoy new market

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THE organisers of a food market held in Upper Norwood last weekend believed they were taking a gamble in bringing top quality produce to the area.

But after at least 600 people turned up for the first of the markets on Saturday, they are admitting to being completely overwhelmed by the success.

They are now confident that the weekly market being staged in the Haynes Lane market area, off Westow Street, will become a favourite part of Upper Norwood's shopping experience.

The market was the brainchild of members of the Crystal Palace Transition Town project, which sets out to make the area more resilient and sustainable in its own right.

The formula organisers chose has proved to be the right mix to attract the shoppers.

It had two distinct elements, with one group of traders selling quality meat, vegetables, bread and cheese sourced as locally as possible, while the other strand featured local businesses selling home-produced goods, including cakes, jams, and gluten-free products.

There were even opportunities on the Transition Town's own Patchwork Farm stall for individuals, schools and allotment holders to sell their own fruit and veg surplus.

The main bulk of the meat, vegetables, fruit and eggs came in from East Sussex and Kent, while the bread was baked freshly in Brixton.

While the organisers had to turn to Wales to get their cheeses, even these were "finished off" in Bermondsey.

Karen Jones, one of the organising team, said: "I had a sleepless Friday night before the market.

"It was scary thinking about all the farmers coming here and then nobody turning up."

But once things got started, Ms Jones soon realised all her fears had been groundless.

She said: "We had such an amazing response from the community. The market was supposed to run until 3pm but many of the main stalls were sold out by 1pm.

"There were queues at the stalls all day."

Ms Jones added that, encouragingly, the farmers taking part had also been delighted with the market.

She said: "A lot of them said this was one of the best market launches they had been to."

The Transition Town group charged ten per cent of the takings for each stall, with a minimum charge of £20 and a maximum of £90

Ms Jones said many of the stalls had taken more than £1,000 on the day.

She added: "The success was really good news because we are helping real sustainable small farmers, which is good for them, while also bringing quality products into people's homes.

"We are not about profit, we are a community group trying to build a community project."

The market will return to town tomorrow (Saturday) between 10am and 3pm.

More details can be found at www.crystalpalace foodmarket.co.uk

Food for thought - 600 people enjoy new market


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