Sunday, 31 January 2010

A serenade with soap at new Budleigh Farmers Market

This banjo-player was giving a musical welcome to Budleigh Farmers' Market when I went to see how it had settled into its new location in the Rolle Mews car park.

Last Friday 29 January marked the town's first Farmers' Market of 2010, and it was fitting that the new decade should begin on an uplifting note for producers and customers, with a change of venue which seemed to be universally approved by everyone I met.

Gerald Sweetland, from Bovey's Down Farm near Colyton, couldn't have been more pleased in the new surroundings. "In the old location at the Brook Road car park we were stuck next to the public lavatories. There's no comparison," he told me.

Clive Gammon, from Tracey Mill trout farm in Honiton, was just as happy. He'd noticed lots of new customers that morning. "In the old location even many of the locals didn't know where we were," he said.

Dave Johnson, who runs Norsworthy Goats dairy products with his wife Marilyn near Crediton, told me a little of the background: "Where we used to be we felt the Budleigh Farmers' Market was going downhill. Many producers were feeling 'If it doesn't buck up we'll have to reconsider our position in the town.'" So he's a lot more optimistic now. "It's taken a long time but it's been well worth it."

At that stage I meant to chat to the banjo-player, but my eye was caught, as was my friend Annie's, by the delicious-looking range of soaps manufactured by Ishbel Ramsay, from nearby Woodbury.

They included these cup-cake soaps that really do look good enough to eat.

Like the other market traders she hadn't been impressed by the former Brook Road location. "The old site wasn't exactly one that you'd stumble across, being rather hidden away. This one's more more user-friendly," she told us. "I've noticed there are more elderly people coming because they can park their cars more easily now." She went on to enthuse about her soaps, marketing ideas pouring out of her like... well, like soap bubbles really. Ideas for Jurassic Coast fossil soaps, for complimetary soaps for B&Bs, for Valentine one-for-two-persons-in-the shower soaps... There was no stopping her. Not only does she use Blogspot like Norsworthy Goats, but omg she's on Facebook!

I was so carried away by Ishbel's enthusiasm for her soaps that when I turned round to check out the banjo-player he'd disappeared along with the soap bubbles. And I saw suddenly that enthusiasm and passion for their products are what drive the Farmers' Market traders and make it such a pleasure to buy their produce. And they obviously enjoy coming here to Budleigh Salterton, some of them from many miles away, just as we enjoy seeing them at the Farmers Market. It would be a shame to lose it.

More information about the producers I spoke to is on the following websites:

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