Bermondsey Farmers' Market
Bermondsey Square London, SE1 3UN | www.lfm.org.uk/markets/bermondsey | Saturdays 10am–2pm
Just off Tower Bridge Road is one of the newest additions to the London Farmers’ Markets (LFM) stable. On Saturdays, tucked away in a modern reincarnation of Bermondsey Square, and flanked by apartments, bars and a hotel, are a dozen or so farmers’ stalls. Bermondsey Farmers’ Market opened in November 2009, and despite immediately heading into an infamously harsh winter, has managed to survive.
Farah Syed, the manager for this and a couple of other LFM-run markets admits it hasn’t been easy: “Although there was a lot of local support to have a market here, one of the biggest challenges is that it’s a bit hidden and not everyone seems to know we are here. We’ve leafleted like mad and put a lot of temporary signs up, but the council do take some of them down.”
But although the market is small, one could say it is perfectly formed, with one or two of each of the essentials, fruit and veg, eggs, meat, a bit of cheese, three bakery stalls, a fishmonger and also a small plant stall. “The fishmonger is particularly important,” says Farah, “as there simply is no other fishmonger in the immediate area.” And although the mother of all food markets in London, Borough Market, is but a mile away, Bermondsey is not really threatened by its presence, according to Farah, “They both sell food of course, but Borough is also a major tourist attraction, it’s not really somewhere you would buy your weekly grocery staples.” However that that’s exactly what customers were doing at Bermondsey. A nice upside to a small and uncrowded market being time and space for the steady number of shoppers to discuss their purchases with stallholders. Several customers could be observed having “I usually get that bread but maybe I’ll try this one this week” type conversations with the stallholders, so loyalty was clear to see.
And a market’s never too small to have an all-important internal supply chain: one of the market’s organic butchers supplies the pork for pies made by bakery stallholders at Bermondsey, and conversely the bakers, such as Astons, supply rolls to the pork farm on days when they are doing a barbecue. Speaking of Astons, there can’t be too many bakers in town doing spelt croissants, or using not only certified organic but certified biodynamic flours.
It was a loyal customer that persuaded Fabienne of Galileo Farm to sell her certified organic meat beyond Warwickshire. For the past year, the farm has been selling pork, beef and a full range of poultry (as well as eggs) in London, at Bermondsey, Islington and Marylebone farmers’ markets. Fabienne is particularly proud of the farm’s pork offering, “The pigs are Berkshire and Old Spot varieties, which are quite rare. There possibly are only 300 Berkshire sows in the whole country, so the breed is quite at risk.” Galileo favours the rare breeds for their superior flavour and their compatibility with organic farming. Fabienne is at Bermondsey every Saturday. http://www.fossewayorganics.co.uk/Clare Hill