Hertsmere Borough Council issued a press release yesterday. The company brought in to operate the three month trial of a farmers’ market in Newberries car park (behind Budgen’s) have given up on the idea. Here’s the release:
Following a three-month trial, the farmers’ market in Radlett will not be continued.
The management company – Hughmark Continental Ltd – came to the decision as they feel the market is not financially viable for them. Lew Hughes, Director, said: “Unfortunately we have decided not to continue with the market. Even though we weren’t charged for using the car park for the trial we have struggled to cover our costs so it just isn’t worthwhile for us.”
The trial ran at Newberries car park on the third Sunday of April, May and June, with the last market on Sunday (19 June).
Councillor Seamus Quilty, Portfolio Holder for economic development at Hertsmere Borough Council, said: “This may be disappointing for local residents but we cannot continue with the market if it isn’t cost-effective for anyone. We have tried to make it work but we can’t continue it for just a few residents, especially in the current financial climate.
“A small number of people have suggested that we haven’t promoted the market enough but we have done everything possible. This has included putting articles and adverts in various residents’ magazines and local papers, putting up posters in local shops and on lampposts and advertising it on our website and through social media. The last market was also promoted at the Radlett Festival the week before it.”
Simon Payton, Head of Engineering Services at Hertsmere Borough Council with responsibility for markets, added: “The trial started off quite well but never became economically viable – at the end of the day if stallholders don’t make a profit they will not return.
“It is a shame the market hasn’t worked but I think Radlett is a very different place to somewhere like St Albans which has a popular farmers’ market but also has a lot of other things to attract visitors.”
What do you think? Did Hertsmere and Hughmark promote the market properly or was it doomed from the start by a lack of adverts and banners? Was the location up to the task or essentially hidden behind the shops? And does anybody really need a fancy market selling artisan bread and organic honey anyway?
I nipped down to Newberries car park – the one behind Budgen’s – this morning to experience the first day of operation of Radlett’s experimental farmers’ market. About a dozen stalls with a good range of produce – meat, bread, cheese, plants and honey plus a couple of slightly more offbeat products – were all present and the place was quite busy. Stallholders told me they were pleased with the turnout, especially for day one. The market is run by a large specialist firm and the stallholders present were all professionals in this game. I suspect this is the case with most ‘farmers’ markets’ these days. Not the bucolic, self-organising, community-driven ideal you may have been expecting. Peter McCarthy, whose McCarthy’s Country Store pitches up at over thirty markets per month, told me he’d expect the Radlett market to do well.
I had a particularly nice chat with Mr and Mrs Gorski, whose Hertfordshire Honey stall stocked only the product of their own hives in Benington near Stevenage. Consequently I am significantly better-informed about the different types of honey, about the flowering of hazels and willows and about the booming honey market than I was this morning. Ask me anything. Mr Gorski told me they sell everything they produce and thus won’t be needing any further publicity. Hence no photo of Mr Gorski!
As to the produce, I can confirm that the Gorskis’ light honey is delicious and that the sourdough stilton and raisin bread from Redbournbury Watermill is mindblowing with a bit of cheese on it. The market is set to run on the third Sunday of the next two months, so the next one will be on 15th May.
Did you go down to the market? What did you think? Will it be a hit? Or is the location a bit too well-hidden (that’s my concern)? Leave a comment below. Sadly I only had my iPhone on me so the pictures are a bit rubbish – more here, though and Clive Glover has some more pics and some interesting background on the three-month trial on his Radlett blog. And, by the way, there was a terrific Food Programme about the mother of all farmers’ markets – Borough Market – on Radio 4 today. Well worth a listen.