St John’s Wood Market

Published on The Jellied Eel on 2nd November 2011:

Market stalls embellishing the colourful tarmac of a primary school playground is no unusual sight. After all, most people will have been to a fête of some sort at their local primary school. Few of those stalls, though, can boast items as exotic as purple cauliflower and samphire alongside the staples of potatoes and carrots.

But that’s exactly the sort of organic produce you can find at St John’s Wood Farmers’ Market.

St John's Wood Market

Based at Barrow Hill Junior School, deep in leafy suburban surroundings, the market itself has only been running since May 2011. Its organisers hope that the market will entice people to not only pick up their regular fruit and veg, but also to try other different types of food too.

While only a baby in the world of farmers’ markets, and quite small at present, the stalls are diverse enough to render it a worthy visit. Even nearing closing on a quiet Saturday afternoon, there’s enough choice of meat, fish, dairy and vegetables to make Sunday lunch hearty. And with a capacity for some 25 stalls, there’s potential for it to develop into a real basket of goods.

The market doesn’t offer much in terms of parking facilities. However, it is an easy stroll from St John’s Wood station and regular buses service the area too. Or you could do as the locals do and go by foot – there are plenty of yummy mummies pushing prams and dapper gents walking dogs. Of course, it also has the great bonus of playground facilities – great, if you’re shopping with kids.

Featured stallholder: Gary’s Fresh Fish

Gary’s Fresh Fish’s mission is to bring the freshest fish to market. Based in the small town of Walton, Essex, Gary Haggis and his two crew members catch all of their fish from a small day boat called ‘True to the Core’. Using both nets and pots on their fishing expeditions means that they can bring in a variety of fish and shellfish. However, their catch is always very dependant on the seasons so what you will find at market will change from week to week. Hauling in their catch just off the coast, where the North Sea meets the Thames, their food miles to London are definitely enviably small.

Partridges Food Market, Chelsea

Published on The Jellied Eel on 14th July 2011:

The Partridges food market on Duke of York Square is luxe without seeming ostentatious.

Given its Chelsea location – with the Saatchi Gallery on one side, the Partridges store on the other and King’s Road on yet another – it’s easy to imagine a market that’s all cup cake and no substance. But while the produce on sale is grown up, there’s also a focus on sustainability.

Rainforest Creations at Partridges Market

The first food market was gathered on the square by Partridges on the 29th of October 2005, inspired by the desire to tap into the world of British foods. The market was aimed at bringing to Chelsea ‘family businesses that would never have an opportunity to trade in this part of town’.

Since then it has grown to attract some 150 stalls, averaging 45 regulars every Saturday. The aim has also shifted to focus more on attracting local producers, along with growing the educational aspects of the market, and John Shepherd, managing director of Partridges, says they are currently trying to develop a demonstration section where producers can show how they make their food.

Most of the stallholders are small speciality food companies. There is the odd stall selling fresh fruit and vegetables or aged meat from the farm, like at a farmers’ market, but you will also find a big selection of locally-produced but ethnically diverse food, for example La Tua Pasta, artisan produced pasta made in north London without preservatives or additives.

Aside from sourcing interesting food, the market is also very grazer-friendly with many stalls selling cooked products, making it a handy stop for snacks or lunch while shopping along the famous King’s Road.

Featured stallholder – Rainforest Creations

Ingo and Khi, the owners of Rainforest Creations, see organic agricultural methods as ‘a way of preserving, nourishing and enriching the land’, so all their offerings are organic. They have rustled together a large selection of flans, salads and cakes which are dairy and sugar free. Their speciality is tropical, raw and organic foods but they’re also often recommended by vegetarians and vegans for their extensive use of fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables.