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Markets join forces across the city

Oxford’s community-run markets are banding together to promote local, healthy and fairly priced food. The markets – which now take place across all corners of the city – have multiplied in recent years. The South Oxford and Leys Community Markets were established just last year whilst Sandford-on-Thames market launched in 2011 and is now run by over 60 local volunteers. “Once there were five markets it just made sense for us to start working together more” said Richard Howlett, bookings co-ordinator of Wolvercote & North Oxford Market. East Oxford Farmers’ & Community Market started in 2006 and was a finalist in the BBC Food and Farming Awards two years ago whilst Wolvercote & North Oxford Market is coming up to it’s eleventh birthday next month.

The group has already set up a joint website and is producing a booklet describing the benefits of shopping at farmers markets. They are particularly keen to challenge the image of farmers markets as expensive:

Helen Hewlett of East Oxford Market said: “We believe our markets offer a fair price to consumers and to farmers. These days many of us are concerned about knowing exactly what is in our food and where it comes from – at farmers’ markets you can ask the guy who raised the cow and the woman who made the cheese directly. Shopping at our markets means supporting the local economy, reducing your carbon footprint, getting to know your neighbours and being able to buy the best food our area has to offer.”

Local vegetable grower Joe Hasell of Cultivate, said: “The fruit and vegetables local farms like ours sell at the markets can often be cheaper than the big supermarkets – and they are so much fresher – often  harvested on the morning of the market.”

Judy Chipchase of South Oxford Market added: “Less than 1% of the food consumed in Oxford is produced locally. We are changing this by offering people local food for their weekly shop. We want more people in the city to join in and start enjoying the fantastic food produced in the fields, bakeries and kitchens in and around our city”.

The new collaboration coincides with special events at two of the markets. On Sunday 29th September Wolvercote and North Oxford Market will host ‘Fun at the Market’ a special event with music, children’s activities and extra stalls. The Oxford Jazz Collective and The Wolvercote Morris dancers will provide entertainment.

Neil Butterfield, Chair of the market committee said: “This should be a great day for families – with glitter tattoos and a quiz with prizes for kids – and the chance to meet Wolvercote childrens’ author, Zoe Greaves. There will be loads of extra stalls and, of course, great food. The Secret Pizza Society will be firing up their wood-burning oven and for those with a sweet tooth there will be gorgeous warm Spanish churros with a rich chocolate sauce”.

On Saturday 12th October,  East Oxford Farmers’ & Community Market will have their Autumn Festival from 10am-1pm. This will be an opportunity for local East Oxford residents to get more involved in their local market by becoming members of East Oxford Farmers’ and Community Market Ltd. There will be a large variety of food and crafts stalls, music, a cafe and even locally brewed beer available to buy.

The Oxford’s Community Markets initiative has been supported by the Plunkett Foundation (www.plunkett.co.uk) and CAG Oxfordshire (www.cagoxfordshire.org.uk/cags).

East Oxford Farmers’ and Community Market takes place from 10am – 1pm, every Saturday at East Oxford Primary School, just off Cowley Road.
Website: www.eastoxfordmarket.org.uk
Twitter: @EastOxMarket

Leys Community Market takes place from 11am – 2pm on the last Saturday of the month at The Barn, Nightingale Avenue.
Website: http://www.leyscommunitymarket.moonfruit.com
Twitter: @LeysMkt

South Oxford Farmers’ & Community Market takes place from 9.30am – 12 noon, every Sunday at the Lake Street Community Centre
Website: http://southoxfordfarmersmarket.org.uk
Twitter: @sofacoma

Talking Shop’s Saturday Market takes place from 9am – 12 noon, every Saturday at The Village Hall, Henley Road, Sandford-on-Thames.
Website: https://talkingshopsandford.wordpress.com
Twitter: @TalkingShopSand

Wolvercote & North Oxford Market takes place from 10am – 1pm every Sunday at Wolvercote Primary Schoool, First Turn, just off Woodstock Road.
Website: www.wolvercotefarmersmarket.co.uk
Twitter: @WolvercoteMarkt