Markets: When? And Where?

Welcome to North East England Farmers Markets
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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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