Markets: When? And Where?

Welcome to North East England Farmers Markets
What’s in season at Farmers' Markets in July, August & September?

The wheat and barley have already turned golden in the glorious sunshine of late June,  pastures and hay meadows are colourful with wild flowers so both arable, livestock farmers and the bees are enjoying the good weather so far this year. It means that our seasonal foods are ready a bit earlier and taste good. Get a real taste of your surrounding countryside and coast when you buy local honey (with 2014 vintage heather honey from Sept), milk, cheeses, fish and really free range eggs.

We have some skilled and committed farmers offering us some of the best fresh meat at Farmers' Markets in NE England. Meat from field beef, hill lamb and free range poultry and pigs taste better when they eat grass and a range of wild herbs.

“Antibiotics have revolutionised modern medicine and saved millions of lives. But most antibiotics are not used to save life – nearly 50% of all antibiotics are used in farming, primarily in intensive livestock production to compensate for crowded and unnatural conditions on factory farms.”[1] This contributes to the decreasing effectiveness of these vital medicines for humans. Buying direct from producers at Farmers Markets means you can ask what their animals are fed on to help you make your choices.

In August there will be sweet, tender hill lamb – delicious with new potatoes and mint - and by September grouse, pheasant and other tasty game will be in season.

Locally grown vegetables and soft fruits are coming into season from July onwards.

This is the time of year when local produce is at its best in NE England and will be celebrated on

3rd August at Saltburn Food Festival,

13th & 14th Sept at Berwick Food Festival and

20th & 21st Sept at Alnwick Food Festival

- with more Food Festivals in October.


[1] Soil Association web site

What’s in season at Farmers' Markets in April, May and June 2014 in North East England? Print E-mail

April is the time for making the best of the last of the potatoes and other stored winter root vegetables and then we get deep red rhubarb, spring greens and an abundance of golden yolked eggs.

In May delicate asparagus tips appear and by June pink sea trout with creamy new potatoes. Enjoying these fresh distinctive flavours and colours for just a few weeks each year is what eating local produce in season is about.

boxes of rhubarb and of carrots



The only way to eat the very first rhubarb is just lightly stewed. Wash and cut the rhubarb stems and place in a saucepan with some sugar. Heat gently until the rhubarb is soft – this will only take a few minutes once it is heated through. Taste when cooled and add more sugar if needed. The flavour is just so special and the colour is spectacular. Rhubarb should be available at Farmers' Markets  from mid to late Spring.





Hens respond to the lighter days by increasing egg production so between mid March and mid October they are plentiful. If you buy eggs at a Farmers’ Market you can ask about the type of hens and how they are kept. Now is the best time to include omelettes on the menu and egg custard goes perfectly with stewed rhubarb.


Fresh shoots of parsley, oregano and tarragon add delicate flavours to many dishes and are especially good with eggs, chicken and fish

box of asparagus spears


Asparagus traditionally is in season about 6 weeks from May to up to the end of June (but growers may use poly tunnels to extend it).


You can help encourage the use of local produce by enquiring about its provenance whenever you buy or eat out.

November, December 2013 & January 2014 Print E-mail

Taste can be as much about place as the food – especially when it is in season, has travelled only a short distance and sold in the local market place by knowledgeable, friendly producers. This year we can celebrate the good cereal harvests and the verdant pastures this summer on which sheep and cattle have thrived. It has been a good season for the hill lamb and there are cuts for roasting and braising.

The Mellanby family are one of our precious few vegetable growers and they sell their roots and greens at farmers' markets in County Durham. Leechmire Farm is a family owned farm growing a variety of winter vegetables and their trailer full of freshly harvested sprout stalks are a sight at December Farmers Markets.

As well as leeks and potatoes, the North East can be proud of its winter greens, kale, swede, turnips – and brussels sprouts. All at their best at this time of year…

See our listing of local poultry producer to find your locally produced Christmas turkey, goose etc. Typically, Northumberland Poultry will have turkeys and they raise, dress and sell chickens, guinea fowl, quail and ducks at Farmers' Markets north of the Tyne throughout the year. The poultry is free range, certified organic and raised in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. From 3 weeks the chicks are allowed out into grass fields where they can freely roam. The high fresh Northumberland pastures of grasses and herbs keeps them free from disease stress meaning no medication is necessary. The ducks have fresh water for bathing and preening. The birds are finished on locally sourced grain and pulses. This is why they taste so good.

The heather this year was glorious and so is the 2013 vintage heather honey now available on some farmers’ market – just close your eyes and sniff it and you are transported to the purple moors and then spread it onto toast and butter mmm...

Good taste is all about the place when you can buy seasonal, fresh, local food - direct from the producer.

May, June & July 2013

Sea trout is one of the most delicious seasonal specialities in the North East in June.

Eggs are plentiful and free range chicken is tasty and economical – first perhaps as a roast, then stir fry the remaining meat and make a soup from the bones. Look out for some irresistible speciality breads to accompany any soup! speciality loaves topped with cheese

All our Farmers Markets offer a selection of fresh pork and beef and sometimes mutton at this time of year. Try some cheaper cuts like shoulder and shin for economy, which after slow cooking make the tastiest casseroles. There are now more cured meats on offer at some Farmers Markets’ – chorizo, pastrami, cooked ham and pork. Also real locally produced bacon and gammon that is dry cured and so better value as well as being tasty.

Locally grown vegetables will be in short supply this year with store root vegetables having run out early and spring crops being late. I have some late purple sprouting broccoli in the garden and I’m using it in soups and, with the help of “The Boxing Clever Cookbook”, accompanied by spicy chick pea sauce, sesame sauce, horseradish and walnuts. Just by itself purple sprouting broccoli is good with some tasty sausages, bacon or pork chops. Nettles make a nutritious soup or vegetable and are plenteous free!

Asparagus is late coming into season this year but there is some available from Bluebell organics.

The availability of the usual new potatoes, broad beans, carrots, courgettes and lettuces will be dependent on the weather.

Look out for plants and seedlings that have been raised in the North east and so should be hardier.

August, September & October 2013

This is the time of year when local produce is at its best in NE England. 

In August there will be sweet, tender hill lamb – delicious with new potatoes and mint - and by September grouse, pheasant and other tasty game will be in season.

Locally grown vegetables and soft fruits are now coming into season.

The wheat and barley turned golden in the glorious sunshine of late July. Farmers will judge its success at harvest by the quantity of grain and the quality of the protein - the price they are paid depend on this. Bread from small bakeries is usually made from strong flours milled from hard wheats, from North America, with a high protein content which develops the gluten to help the dough to rise. Soft wheats grown in Europe, with less protein, produce flour that is trickier to bake but often has a superior flavour.

crusty loaves of breadThe type of wheat used and the length of time for the proving process are key factors in how a bread tastes. The eastern European method of using sourdough starters is now commonly practised by artisan bakers.  A more traditional British method used by many local bakeries is that of keeping back some dough from a previous batch of yeast bread and adding it to the new batch. Good bread is thankfully making a comeback and you can choose from a great range at most Farmers’ Markets in the North East – made from wheat, barley, spelt, rye flours – with tasty additions such as rosemary & sea salt, garlic, along with scones and tea cakes. You can also find specialities such as The Great Northumberland Bread Company’s traditional saffron buns at Newcastle and Morpeth Farmers’ Markets and the innovative savoury Chelsea buns from the Moody Baker at Hexham Farmers’ Markets.saltburn market with bottles in foreground

Raspberry and rose petal wine is a perfect summer drink hand made by Skinningrove Wines on sale at Saltburn farmers' market using recipes based on traditional methods and, like all their wines, fermented using organic sugars and honeys. Most ingredients are organic; own grown, sourced locally from allotments and organic farms or gathered with care from the wild. Some of the delicious tastes of the countryside include clover, hawthorn blossom, nettle and elderflower wines.

Look out for food festivals in September and October including Berwick Food Festival on 7th September and Alnwick Food Festival on 21st & 22nd September.

February, March and April

The 2012 Northumbrian Hill lamb season ends in March, with lambing starting in April – and the 2013 Northumbrian Hill lamb coming to market in early September. But – in North East lowland farms, lambing started in January, so the new season lowland lamb should be available from July. Meanwhile there should be some mutton available – delicious with leeks and barley in warming winter broths and stews - and also very good and flavoursome as a joint or chop.

On the game front, there should be plenty of rabbit, venison and pigeon for sale through to the end of September, but pheasant and hare has now come to an end.

Several farmers’ market regulars raise rare breed pork – Oxford Sandy & Black, Tamworth, Gloucester Old Spot and Middle White to name just a few. These well looked after pigs will take 6 -7 months to mature compared with the 5½ months for most large scale produced pork. The slower growth gives better quality meat, and the fat on these breeds carries a lot of flavour. Look out for dry cure shoulder bacon which is just right for adding, chopped, to a pea soup or bean stew to make an economical warming winter stall with fish & shellfish

Duane Patterson from Eyemouth reports that flat fish, hake and monkfish are in plentiful supply. Some good haddock are being caught at the end of January and this should continue into February. Then the haddock take off to spawn in March & April and during this time they are rather thin, then, by May they are starting to get fat again, as are the codling and whiting. David Ridley of Ridleys Fish & Game says that at present (late January) monkfish and codling are being caught off the coast along with crabs and a few lobsters but fishing is very susceptible to the weather – especially high winds. Look out too for rod-caught Tweed and Tyne salmon. Dark hot smoked salmon is great with a steaming hot jacket potato and winter salad leaves.

After the worst growing season last year in decades it was clear vegetables were going to be in short supply through into the Spring. David Mellanby still has a good supply of roots such as leeks, parsnips, beetroot, swede and cabbage and sprouts, which should go through to end of March. Julian Negrut who grows greens and roots near Berwick reports a poor harvest, which he sold out over the Christmas period. He hopes to be back at Alnwick & Morpeth Farmers' Markets at the end of April with cabbages and cauliflowers, but it all depends on the weather.

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