I wrote this for the paper a couple of week ago and forgot to post it, so as the next market is TOMORROW – here it is. If you have time tomorrow 10-2 go, its lovely.
The first farmers’ and craft market at Oaklands College, St Albans campus (Hatfield Road) last weekend was very successful, with a good variety of stalls and plenty of people strolling around, buying seasonal, locally produced food. If you don’t know Oaklands very well, it is well worth visiting for the next market on May 24th. There is plenty of free parking on site at the weekends, but it is a lovely walk or bike ride, especially as it is not far from the Alban Way. As you walk down the sweeping drive through fields and woodland, there is a pond on the right, and the market stalls are tucked away near the centre of the college buildings to the left. The market will be once a month to start with, on a Saturday, to fit in with the Royal Market Charter of 1553, and they already have a useful range of stalls, including Redbournbury Mill bread, meat, fish, cakes, honey, wine and fruit and vegetable plants. It is open from 9-2.
Martin from Redbournbury Mill was doing well and it is a useful opportunity to buy bread rather than having to drive over to Redbourn – ideal if you live on the Marshalswick/Fleetville side of town. I was delighted to see the Country Markets stall, as they always have lovely cakes, quiches and biscuits. I also found home-made custard creams shaped like butterflies and flowers, made by The Cake Stand Bakery, which were delicious. When I checked the packaging afterwards I realised they were gluten-free, as are most items on their stall. Gunther’s honey was available, and we also bought a joint of lamb, which had a wonderful flavour. Barn Bacon are there, selling ham, pork pies, bacon, sausages and burgers, and Simon Long is selling fish, including smoked. It was lovely to see Frithsden Vineyard with a stall; they produce wine near Hemel Hempstead, and it is well worth buying a bottle for a truly English meal. You could also get advice on starting your own allotment and raising chickens from Plot 2 Plot. You could order live chickens for £15 each, and order a bespoke chicken run for them to live in.
I spoke to Jenny Titmuss, the organiser, and she said that there is space for a few more stalls, so if you are interested, contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org. I have talked to independent food producers recently who have found it difficult to get a stall at the St Albans city centre farmers’ market, so this could be an excellent way to find a new outlet. Jenny would like to encourage more local companies to take stalls (prices are reasonable), and also maintain variety – I think more fresh vegetables and fruit would be welcome, and I was surprised not to see the Oaklands eggs for sale – but it is early days! The next dates are: May 24th, June 28th, July 26th, August 23rd, September 20th and October 18th.