Markets: When? And Where?

Welcome to North East England Farmers Markets
In Season & On Sale: October-December 2015

Kathryn Potts writes:

At the end of September we can see pale gold fields of cut cereals after harvest and already ploughed and planted fields - some showing green already - to remind us of the agricultural cycle and the impact farming has on our country landscapes. Trends in recent years have generally been for the number of farm units to decrease and for larger farms to increase in size and in intensity of production. Now we can only be sure that any milk we drink comes from cows which have been fed outside on grass pastures if we get deliveries from a local dairy farmer we know or by buying organic milk. Acorn organic milk from Darlington is widely distributed in the North East through local doorstep deliveries and in Morrisons. By being aware of seasonality and provenance and choosing local produce we can help reduce food miles and support the local economy which will enable us, and future generations, to continue to enjoy seeing for example cows grazing in pastures.

Pork cuts like shoulder of pork are good value and with some bacon, leeks, wholegrain mustard, cider and apples make a tasty Autumn casserole. Grouse, pheasant and venison make a flavoursome change in the Autumn menu. The hill bred lamb from the Cheviots and Pennines is at its best, tender and tasty and great value.

Sprout stalks will soon be appearing again. Roots - potatoes, turnips, beetroots, carrots, parsnips, leeks and celeriac – and greens – Savoy, sweetheart and round cabbages, kale and broccoli. Cabbage and mashed potatoes with lambs’ liver, bacon and fried onions is one of my favourite meals in winter time.

On cold days there is nothing like a hot ginger pudding to warm you up and the ready made puddings on sale at many Farmers' Markets are so good.

This year’s heather honey is now coming on to the market – just  close your eyes and sniff it and you are transported to the purple moors.

Morpeth Food Festival is on Saturday 3rd October.

To find producers of locally reared geese, turkey, duck, guinea fowl or chicken for Christmas - look out for our listing on here from mid November. You can find crafts and some different, tasty edible Christmas presents at Farmers’ Markets in December - and do check the dates of the December markets carefully!

In Season & On Sale: July-September 2015

Kathryn Potts writes:

At Farmers’ Markets in North East England you will always find a fine selection of fresh meat – chicken, beef, pork, lamb, mutton and venison.

In July and 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. Organic poultry is available at Morpeth, Newcastle and Hexham Farmers' Markets.

At Middlemay Farm they have just finished shearing  and are unexpectedly looking forward to some late lambs in mid June.  Carron Craighead explained that those Clun Forrest eves that were not pregnant in January were just left in the field with the Shropshire tups (rams) So - there'll be some spring Middlemay lamb available at Christmas! Carron sells lamb and mutton as fresh cuts and also as 'right tasty' ready meals – Lamb Bobotie, Tagine, Moussaka, Navarin and a la Greque and Mutton Clun Stew. (Newcastle and Hexham Farmers' Markets).

Tracey of Broom Mill Farm and Martin of Westholm Farm Meats are at many of the Farmers' Markets in the south of the region as well as Newcastle.

NE England Farmers’ markets also usually have bread, preserves, ales, cakes and biscuits. One of the aims of a Farmers’ Market is that these should include as much locally grown vegetables, fruits or locally reared meats from known sources as is possible - with a minimum of 25% for most processed foods and a 10% minimum for baked goods. So you will find North Shore Patisserie using local grown rhubarb with (non-local) stem ginger as the filling in their round puff pastry pies (called a pithivers). (Newcastle, Alnwick  and Hexham Farmers' Markets). Northumbria Preserves (Hexham, Gibside and Kelso Farmers' Markets) use fruit and vegetables from their own allotment and have made their home- or neighbour- (in exchange for some tomato plants!) grown rhubarb into jam and chutney.

The new root vegetables – potatoes, carrots, beetroot – will come into season and then salad ingredients, a little later than last year. Organic vegetables are available from Bluebell (Hexham, Barnard Castle, Stokesley Farmers' Markets).

cluster if hand raised pies

Teesdale Blue and White Hilton – creamy smooth and full flavoured – are on offer

Cheese wedding cakes are very popular these days and they are a speciality of Northumbrian Cheese Co – the top round is usually Blagdon Blue - a creamy, cellar ripened cow’s milk cheese streaked with blue veins.from Leaside Cheesemakers in the Teesdale valley. And just try topping some strawberries with a big spoonful of their ginger or lemon curd cheese for a delicious combination of flavour and textures!  (Barnard Castle and Hexham Farmers' Markets).

The Prince of Pies has developed a special recipe, including black pudding (to symbolise the blood spilled!!), for Hexham Riot Pie, but it's difficult to choose from the range of freshly baked tasty pies using local meats enclosed in a crisp pastry.  (Greenhead, Gibside and Hexham Farmers' Markets).

A selection of charcuterieSome tasty high quality charcuterie is now on offer such as Fennel Salami and Smoked Pork Sausage with Mustard seed and Smoked Paprika from Westnewton Charcuterie (Hexham Farmers’ Market).

Birdoswald Cheese, as well as the most delicious natural yoghurt, can be found on the Slack House Farm stall at Hexham Farmers' Market.  They have just taken the first clip silage and are still waiting for the newly sown ley to be ready for silage, this is late because of the cold weather and although it included some wheat seed the jackdaws, crows and pigeons dug them up and enjoyed a feast as soon as it germinated! Diane is celebrating the recent birth of two sets of twin calves on the farm which overlooks Hadrian's Wall on the Cumbria and Northumberland border.

Overall this is the time of year when local produce is at its best in NE England and will be celebrated at food festivals all over the region between now (July) and early October. Watch out for the details of these events!


April - June 2015: In Season & On Sale

Kathryn Potts writes:

If the post Easter warmth continues, we will see good growth of arable crops, rich pastures for the animals and hopefully fine weather for fishing. 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.

There are a small number of local vegetable growers who attend farmers markets and green is theBoxes of spring veg inncluding asparagus predominant colour of our spring vegetables – spring cabbages, late broccoli and spinach. 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). Some early lettuces may also be found later in the season along with any early strawberries.

Crabs, lobsters and langoustines are caught by local boats on the North East coast.  There are two white fish that can be caught just off the coast - pollock and coley. Ask for Pollock - a firm, white fish and has a taste and texture similar to cod – to encourage its sale (rather than being used to bait crab pots). Amble Development Trust are currently market researching a 'fish box' scheme to support the local fisheries and promote the consumption of a wider range of fish.

To maintain environmentally sustainable grazing levels some farmers are rearing traditional cattle breeds such as Dexter, Belted Galloway and Shorthorns as well as Aberdeen Angus and Herefords. When sourcing beef from a known farm there is a limited amount of prime cuts so try some chuck and shin; which have a rich flavour when casseroled or in a pie, especially when cooked with local ale to make a steak and kidney pudding or beef carbonade.

Two hens scratching in the dust

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.

This season there is usually a profusion of herbs. Fresh shoots of parsley, oregano and tarragon add delicate flavours to many dishes and are especially good with eggs, chicken and fish. Dill goes well with the sea trout.

Oct-Dec 2014: In Season & On Sale

This year it’s an autumn harvest to celebrate in North East England from the fields, hedgerows and sea. Thanks to the dedication and skills of local producers we can enjoy great tasting food with the added pleasure of knowing where it has come from. It is good that now there are more Farm Shops in the North East selling local produce every day but Farmers’ Market are still the only place where you can meet the producers face to face throughout the year. Plan to visit a place when there is a Farmers' Market on and you can take home the ingredients for a feast of locally produced food and drink that’s fresh and in season. High quality and quantities of barley and wheat have been harvested in sunny weather after a year with lots of sunshine interspersed with rain throughout the growing season. Silvery Tweed are already supplying the new crop barley plus wheat as flour, flakes, kibbled grains and coated cereals to their customers – barley water, biscuit and breakfast cereal manufacturers throughout the UK.

Milling wheat quality for bread is poor because of cool spell in August. It’s the sun that develops the gluten which is essential for quality strong bread flour. This means bakers will have to cope with flours of variable quality unless it a blend with imported cereals. Using their skills they still bake an amazing selection of breads which you can find at most Farmers' Markets.

The bees made an abundance of honey from meadow flowers in the early sunshine so look out for this. The temperature on the purple headed moors dropped in August as the heather was in bloom which depressed bee activity and heather honey quantities this year.

The good growth of grass has been enjoyed by sheep and cattle and made a good crop of silage or haylage for winter feeds. The Lamb Man from Longhorsley reports that the lambs have grown well and are larger this year and we can enjoy the sweet taste of pasture and moor fed lamb now. At 7 months the lambs become hoggets and the meat becomes a darker red and has a richer flavour. At shearing time next year it is this fleece that is most valued by spinners.

Sloes may be scarce in some places but Helen Farr of Sloecrafts from Thropton will find some for their sloe gin and there’s always damson vodka. New this year is yellow raspberry (picked from her sister’sgarden) vodka.

A good Christmas pudding and cake needs to be made well in advance with high quality ingredients so that the flavours of the fruits and spirits can develop. Heather takes orders for well matured cakes a year in advance and has already stirred up the mixes in Chirnells Farmhouse Kitchen for this year’s rich tasting  Christmas fare.

For a comforting casserole in Autumn just combine some venison, game or beef with a locally brewed ale and some winter vegetables and herbs. You’ll find Emma Whittingham’s book “Game On” on sale at Barter Books and it’s full of locally sourced recipes.

To find producers of locally reared geese, turkey, duck, guineafowl or chicken for Christmas look at the page on this website from late November.

Jan - Mar 2015: In Season & On Sale

It has been a good growing season for all vegetables with sunshine and warmth encouraging continued growth in this winter period. Eating what is in season gives you a variety of different tastes, textures and colours throughout the year.

Fruit and vegetables

  • Root vegetables -  swede, parsnips, beetroot and carrots
  • Greens – curly kale, broccoli, sprouts, calabrese, cabbages of all kinds – red, January Kings, Savoys and Spring
  • Onions – red and white and leeks
  • Apples – stored and for eating or cooking


Animals also have thrived this season in the mild and sunny weather and farmers have been able to leave their cattle out longer on pastures this year. Let’s hope for continuing good conditions for lambing.

Game – pheasant, pigeon, partridge and venison - roasted, casseroled or in pies, makes a real savoury seasonal meal.

Northumbrian Hill lamb is available until March. Mutton (over two years old) or hogget (over a year old) makes a tasty meal in a slow cooked casserole.

There is also a delicious selection of charcuterie products now available – you only need a small amount of tasty cured meats or chorizo to add flavour to salads, pasta or a baked potato.


Flat fish, scallops, monkfish are plentiful.

Haddock is in season usually until the end of January.

Baked goods & conserves

Look out for an amazing selection of locally baked breads – with seeds, grains, herbs, honey, spices, currants and just plain - so you can enjoy the flavour of a twice fermented dough which has enabled the flavour of high quality grains to develop fully.

Our skilled bakers also offer a mouth watering range of cakes, tarts, pies and patisserie. Make an event of afternoon tea with toasted teacakes, spread with locally churned butter and home made lemon curd (which should just be freshly made with butter, lemons, sugar and free range eggs) or bramble jelly.

Look out for tender wild garlic, sorrel and nettle tips as Spring starts and use them to ask fresh wild flavours to your winter fare. In the garden  herbs such as sage and rosemary complement the strong savoury tastes of game and pork, and perhaps serve with redcurrant jelly.

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

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 Next > End >>

Page 1 of 3