The whole London Farmers Market thing has pretty much passed me by. Before I moved to America I remember there being one by Camden Passage in Islington at weekends, but I had no idea that there was now such a proliferation in London. (I’ve always meant to try the Swiss Cottage one on Weds, but it’s in the middle of the working day.) And I do like a good Farmers Market. The American ones, from whence the idea came, that I have shopped from have always been splendid. Mostly very good value, packed with fresh produce and cheery shoppers
Santa Monica’s is wonderful, the one outside San Francisco’s Ferry Market superlative, & even the little one in Red Bank, New Jersey that I went to with the boys was excellent – NJ produce is some of the best in America. The Union Square Greenmarket in New York is also good but not cheap – unsurprising given its location.
So when I saw a sign for the Parliament Hill one, which is tucked away in a school playground just off the lower reaches of Hampstead Heath, I was so there. I tied up the dog with my sister by the dog creche, and went to forage. The fruit and veg was exceptionally good value, and I bought bags of small, sweet Coxes and wished I had room to carry more. Especially when I saw the wonderful fresh free range eggs.
But ouch quite a lot of what was on offer at the other stalls was very not cheap. Although I do think we generally expect to pay too little for our food, thanks to the expectations nurtured by the big supermarkets and their price gouging ways with farmers & suppliers, when I can buy good organic bread, cake and pre-prepared food cheaper from local independent stores, who have overheads built into their prices, I did feel slightly cagey about buying those items from the stalls there. It felt a little bit like a smug middle class shopper’s tax.
I was not best pleased at asking for a small box of squash salad and then being charged £6.50 for it. And it was not at all nice. AT ALL. (Claggy grains, no seasoning, unpeeled squash) *chucks in bin*. I guess that’s the punt you make. On the other hand lil’sis’ brownie whilst also very not cheap was also very good.
So I will be back as often as possible to buy fruit and vegetables and eggs there, and I hear that the meat & fish stalls are exceptional, but will be steering clear of buying my lunch, or cake there.
“Parliament Hill opened in September 2008. Look out for fresh dairy produce from Alham Wood & the outstanding display of produce from three of Lincolnshire’s top vegetable growers – Eden Farms, Manor Farm and Ted’s Veg. You’ll also find fresh fish from Dorset coast, and meat and poultry from 12 Green Acres, Old Hall farm, Fosse Meadows plus game in season from Radwinter and South Downs.”
Every Saturday 10am-2pm. William Ellis School, off Highgate Road. London. NW5 1RN. Website