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Riverside Community Market Association

Riverside Community Market Association Social Enterprise Ltd, Cardiff, South Wales

Region: South Wales
Type: Local Food Market
Legal/organisation structure: Limited company

Project history

The Riverside Community Market Association (RCMA) was set up in 1998 by a small group of local people involved in community activities. The idea of a market arose due to concerns about the lack of fresh and healthy food available locally. These concerns were compounded by the fact that many residents, particularly those on low incomes, found it difficult, both practically and financially, to get to shops further a field to buy fresh, healthy and affordable food.

So RCMA set about exploring the potential for a local community market. Funding from the Prince's Trust enabled RCMA to carry out a feasibility study, which involved running a test market, undertaking a consultation process including a survey and interviews with local stakeholders - residents, stallholders, local businesses and community groups. The information was recorded and used as the evidence to inform the development of the community market. RCMA harnessed a wide range of funding support, engaging the statutory agencies, especially the local Council, in the project from the outset.

RCMA has also initiated a range of other food-related activities in the community, including developing local networks; healthy food workshops; working in local primary schools; organising healthy picnics; and supporting local women to develop food-related micro businesses. The RCMA has also supported the development of fruit tuckshops in three local schools as part of the wider Healthy Schools Project, and provides a programme of activities in those schools.

RCMA-Social Enterprise Limited (RCMASEL) was incorporated in 2004 as a company limited by guarantee to act as the 'trading arm' of RCMA. It was also necessary to set up a financially accountable body which could cope with the increasingly large amounts of income from renting stalls at the market, and from funding for new projects being received from bodies such as the Welsh Development Agency. The Association will continue to be responsible for purely educational/outreach activities.

RCMASEL now runs the Riverside 'Real Food' Market which has since grown to become a weekly event with an average of over 20 stalls and over 1,000 customers from across Cardiff every week.


The RCMASEL works to promote a more localised, community-based, sustainable food system through its activities. It aims to support economic and social regeneration, address poor food access and diet-related health inequalities, and develop the skills and confidence of all members of the local community. RCMASEL also aims to encourage a greater sense of community in South Riverside and to contribute to improved relations between the varieties of diverse groups in the locality.


The Riverside 'Real Food' Market is currently the main activity for RCMASEL However, RCMSEL is about to launch a community garden project which will employ a project manager and outreach worker aiming to engage local community groups and residents in a programme of educational and horticultural activities based at a nearby allotment. The plan is that in addition to the health, social and educational benefits for the participants, they will be able to sell some of the produce they grow at the Riverside market.

Financial/legal structure

The Riverside Community Market Association is a not-for-profit community organisation run by a committee of local residents on a voluntary basis. Riverside Community Market Association Social Enterprise Limited (RCMASEL) is the trading arm of the Riverside Community Market Association and is a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee. The Officers of RCMA are also the directors of RCMASEL to ensure accountability of the company to RCMA.

The RCMA committee currently consists of ten members meeting every quarter. The RCMASEL company directors' meet on a monthly basis. The intention is to widen membership of the Association, to include other stakeholders such as stall holders, local businesses and statutory organisations.

Income for 2004/5 was approximately £45,000. Around 50% was generated through market trading activities and the other 50% came from grants. In the financial year 2005/2006 grants are forecast to account for some 20% (£9000) of market income with the remaining income generated through market stall rental, market membership and craft stalls which is forecast at £32,260. Over the following three years the company plans to reduce its dependence on grant funding and by 2008/9 it is forecast that the market will be financially self sustaining (this forecast depends on several factors, including increasing income from stall rental/hire).

The RCMA has the following sources of support to run the market,

  • It has a renewable three year licensing agreement with Cardiff Council,
  • There is one full time post market manager/community outreach worker which is currently support by a grant from New Opportunities Fund under the Enfys Scheme and the Welsh Development Agency. The subsidy for this post will continue until December 2005, at which point the financial projections indicate the Market should be generating enough income to support this post part time, if not full time.
  • Support from Cardiff County Council and assistance from a wide range of other funding bodies - notably Environment Wales - has been crucial in enabling RCMASEL to work towards sustainability and at the same time maintain and develop outreach activities. Previously funding has come from, Princes Trust, Shell Better Britain, Community Enterprise Wales, and the Food Standards Agency Wales.
  • RCMASEL contracts three casual staff on market days to set up and take down market canopies.
  • Volunteers offer valuable time and support. 'Friends of the Market' network and Board Members help RCMASEL get feedback on market development, and assist with raising awareness.


Tricky issues

RCMASEL has been able to tell from observing the people who shop at the market that the majority of people who shop at the Market come from outside of the South Riverside area. This intuitive observation has been backed up by a recent more formal survey of market customers. Although they are gradually seeing an increase in the number of local people who shop at the market on a Sunday, the numbers are too low for them to say that the market is making a significant contribution to the health of residents in the local community.

The future

The longer term aims of RCMASEL include establishing a set of linked food-related social enterprise activities. These would be structured semi-autonomously but would continue to promote the aims and objectives of the RCMA, including the health of the local community and the wider environment, and would aim to become financially independent over a prescribed period. These activities could include a mobile farm shop to sell vegetables grown through a community gardening project, a training kitchen and community café project.

RCMA is also currently looking to set up new markets in the Cardiff area and is also examining providing a management and consultancy service to local authorities and community groups thinking about setting up Farmers Markets in their own areas. RCMA would seek to work with existing local organisations or to develop local groups to take over the running of the market helping to ensure the long term viability both of RCMA Social Enterprise Ltd and the Farmers Markets movement across Wales.

Ken Moon, Market Manager and Community Outreach Worker
South Riverside, Brunel Street, Riverside, Cardiff, CF11 6ES
Tel: 02920 190036

Steve Garrett, RCMA Chair
35 Beauchamp Street, Riverside, Cardiff CF11 6AX
Tel: 029 2022 7982

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