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Keeping it in the NeighbourFood: Virtual farmers’ market will bring the stalls to your living room

A virtual farmers market is taking place in Falkland on Friday.
A virtual farmers market is taking place in Falkland on Friday.

Falkland has joined the online NeighbourFood initiative, with its first -ever digital farmers’ market opening its doors on Friday, June 19.

A converted mid-19th Century stable block on Falkland Estate in Fife will be the venue for Falkland NeighbourFood run by The Centre for Stewardship.

The virtual market will provide a setting for the estate’s smallholders and orchardists to sell their produce alongside other Fife-based producers and growers such as Great Oil and Olives, Leaf Natural Food Wraps (which sells handmade reusable food wraps) and Bad Gal Boocha – Fife’s first independent kombucha brewery.

Lesley Duffy of the Falkland Estate Trust said: “The new click and collect market will give people the chance to buy food from the estate and other local producers online, which is great news for our rural economy and the environment.

“As well as reducing their food miles and carbon footprint, customers will get a chance to connect with the people who make or grow food at our weekly collections, boosting the relationship between farm and fork.”

Lesley added: “The market complements our existing farming and growing activities. We’ll have apple juice on sale from our orchard and we hope to start selling our organic beef and lamb soon.”

The stable block at Falkland Estate is the venue for the digital farmers’ market.

Kim Sullivan of Fife-based Leaf Natural Food Wraps believes the market will help support businesses and communities alike during the ongoing pandemic. She said: “The NeighbourFood markets are such a fantastic way of connecting communities with their local producers and artisans, and as Covid-19 continues to impact on, and restrict, our shopping habits, markets like these could well be the way forward for small businesses and consumers alike. I’m really excited to be part of the new market in Falkland, which I’ve no doubt will be received and supported enthusiastically by the local community.”

Small, independent kombucha brewery, Bad Gal Boocha will also be selling through the market. Owner Heather Blair said: “I’ve been so excited to be part of this market since it started being developed last year. There are so many amazing producers in Fife and I think that Falkland NeighbourFood is going to be a great way to showcase that; it’s also super forward thinking and reflects how times are changing. The market will let us shout about all the produce that is on offer throughout Falkland and its neighbouring villages.”

The new click and collect market will give people the chance to buy food from the estate and other local producers online, which is great news for our rural economy and the environment .

Lesley Duffy, Falkland Estate Trust.

Locals will also to able to order freshly cut flowers from the grounds of Falkland Palace.

Jill Sutherland of Flora Alba said: “We’re offering local people the chance to buy locally grown and unusual varieties of flowers, many of which you won’t find at the wholesale flower markets.

“The gardens where the flowers are grown are sheltered by old stone walls in the village of Falkland, a special place in the middle of the Fife countryside. All our flowers are grown using natural methods, working with the Scottish seasons and all the challenges our climate can bring. It is a privilege to work in these gardens and to see the pleasure they bring to the people who visit them.”

Bowhouse Link is a new online marketplace which is taking the place of their normal busy enterprise.

The event at Falkland follows on from a similar enterprise at Bowhouse in Fife’s picturesque East Neuk.

Bowhouse Link, which began in April, is a new online market place that brings together selected producers and allows shoppers to select the food and drink for either contactless pick up or local delivery.

Based in the East Neuk of Fife, Bowhouse has developed a reputation as a place for making; a hub of local food and drink producers and traders.

Launched in 2017, it is a place for artisan producers to transform local ingredients into outstanding food and drink.

Since that time, Bowhouse’s monthly market weekends have attracted more than 100,000 people, and this was set to grow in 2020.

The ongoing Coronavirus crisis has meant that organisers have had to develop new solutions to distribute local produce and, as a result, Bowhouse Link was launched.

Alongside essentials like cream, eggs, yogurt and milk, produce included in the market place includes: Organic beef, lamb, venison and pork from Butchery at Bowhouse; wholemeal organic flours from Scotland the Bread; organic vegetables and salads from East Neuk Market Garden; rums, ciders, beers and natural wines from Futtle Organic Brewery; game meats from Woodmill Game; Anster Cheese from the neighbouring St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company; cheeses and oatcakes from Strathearn Cheese Company; butters from the Edinburgh Butter Company; breads from Barnetts Bakery; brownies from Artisana; Kombucha drinks from Bad Gal Boocha; non-alcoholic spirits from Feragaia; freshly ground coffee from Unorthodox Roasters, and fresh flowers from Keeping the Plot.

New producers will continue to be added to Bowhouse Link and it is expected that the service will be expanded even after the current lockdown has come to an end.

The shop opens every Monday morning at 10am and is open for orders until Wednesday afternoon at 1pm. On Thursdays and Fridays the orders are produced and packed ready for delivery across the East Neuk of Fife and collection on Saturday. Bowhouse Link offers free delivery for all local NHS staff.

Some of the produce available at Bowhouse Link.

Environmental charity Forth Environment Link, has been instrumental in getting Falkland NeighbourFood off the ground, thanks to a £208,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s EU LEADER programme to set up click and collect farmers’ markets across Scotland.

Regional Food project coordinator Stuart Guzinski, from Forth Environment Link, said: “The Regional Food project aims to increase rural access to Scotland’s larder by creating rural employment and offering small scale producers a safe route to market. It’s a sustainable way to food shop that supports local producers and cuts down food miles and food waste. Pre-ordering also means nothing’s wasted.

“Customers can plan their meals around what seasonal produce is available and producers only harvest or prepare as much as they need.”

Similar markets have already been successfully established in Stirling, Balfron, Blairgowrie and Peebles, with another opening soon in Megginch, Perthshire.

Stirling’s market has sold more than 6,000 baskets of produce since launching in 2016, boosting the local economy by £141,000 with producers keeping the lion’s share of the profits (£115,800).

What is Neighbourfood?

NeighbourFood was founded by Cork chef Jack Crotty and business partner Martin Poucher in 2018.

And the local food network has quickly grown to more than 25 markets across the UK and Ireland.

The model differs from large retailers, as Jack explained: “Our food producers set their own prices and get a fair price for every product sold. They keep 80% of sales for every product, compared to 15-25% through supermarkets. The remaining 20% is split equally between the market host and NeighbourFood.”

It is hoped a second NeighbourFood market will open in rural Fife later this year

Fife LEADER Programme Coordinator Catharine Idle said: “Fife LEADER is delighted to be supporting this innovative approach to making local food more accessible to local people. We’re now on the look-out for a second organisation to join NeighbourFood, helping people across rural Fife to get access to fresh produce, help them cut food miles and support local producers all at the same time.

“Market hosts will be given funding, training and promotional support from Forth Environment Link to set up their own market.”

Weekly collections will be on a Thursday from 4-6pm with the first socially distant pick-up taking place on Thursday June 25.

You can find out more on their website.

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