25 years of Somerset Farmers Markets

25 years of Somerset Farmers Markets

In 1999, Somerset Farmers Markets started up as a means to help local, small-scale producers sell their produce to local customers. And now, 25 years later, we’re still doing it!

With the area already home to the UK’s first modern farmers’ market (an honour which went to Bath in 1997), SFM’s initial market – opening in Glastonbury two years later – was the very next in the country to follow suit.

These days, we host seven monthly markets across Somerset – specifically, in Nailsea, Midsomer Norton, Axbridge, Crewkerne, Keynsham, and two in Frome.

All carry the same philosophy: of providing Somerset communities with access to local food produced to a high standard. And, importantly, without engaging in the extractive model all too common in food retail – as noted by the Landworkers’ Alliance, farmers often receive about 8p in every pound spent at a supermarket. At SFM markets, and in exchange for the base rate £25 pitch fee, producers receive 100p in every pound. As part of this arrangement, SFM has always been a not-for-profit organisation.

Originally, SFM emerged and was made possible from ‘Agenda 21’ funding in the ‘90s, which was a result of the first climate change summit in Rio de Janeiro. There, United Nations member states encouraged local governments to draw up their own plan to ‘act locally’ in preventing climate change by promoting local initiatives focusing on sustainable development and alleviating negative effects of globalisation.

While that may be longer ago than some of us would like to remember, SFM’s ethos of wanting to help re-establish a thriving local food system – by bringing better, more climate- and nature-friendly food to Somerset towns and supporting local, more sustainable farmers – hasn’t wavered since.

As our markets get ready to open proper for 2024 and with SFM’s quarter of a century in in the making, perhaps that’s something to bear in mind.

For SFM market info and 2024 dates, click for Nailsea, Midsomer Norton, Axbridge, Crewkerne, Keynsham, Frome Boyle Cross, or SFM at The Frome Independent.

SFM is kindly supported by Midsomer Norton-based solicitors Thatcher + Hallam.