Guest Blog Post - Julie Hasell (CFM Committee member and Ridgeway Cider Stallholder)

It’s twenty years since Cullompton Farmers’ Market founder, Tracy Frankpitt, heard about the first UK farmers’ market in Bath on Radio 4 and decided to set up one in Cullompton. I wonder if she ever dreamt the market would celebrate twenty years of trading. Cullompton Farmers’ Market was the fourth Farmers’ market in the UK, the first farmers market in the South West and the first in the UK to be started by anyone other than a local authority. 

There’s much to celebrate on 30th June at the Cullompton Farmers’ Market 20th anniversary market to be held at the Station Road car park. A variety of entertainment will start with Stripey, the original musician, who will play at 9.30 am. Guest appearances throughout the morning include Barny Butterfield from Sandford Orchards, our MP, Neil Parrish, who will cut the birthday cake at 11.15 am, Tracey Frankpitt, founder member at 1.30 pm, the Bradninch Morris Men between 1-2 pm, plus extra guest appearances throughout the event.

Tracy Frankpitt recalls how she went about setting up the market. After visiting Bath Farmers’ Market, she decided, with the support of the Cullompton Regeneration Committee, to look seriously into the project. Tracy describes the initial plans: 'We needed tents and tables, funding for the tents, people to help put up the tents, producers, a site for the market and advertising. I worked out that we’d need a team of seven to set up the market to cover Advertising, Producer liaison, Funding applications, Equipment procurement and management, Treasurer, Market Supervisor and Alcohol licence Applications.

With the approval of the Cullompton Regeneration Committee and Richard Priestley volunteering to oversee Equipment procurement and management, Tracy began to look into possible sites to hold the monthly market. She says ‘Taste of the West, and the NFU were very helpful with finding farmers and producers who were willing to direct sell and we went around the Mid Devon and county shows asking stall holders if they’d take part.

Mid Devon Council was great and gave us the £700 for the tents and free use of Station Road car park. Richard Priestley practised putting up the tents in his garden and we realised we’d need a team for putting up the tents and somewhere to store them. Jane Campbell offered her garage as storage and the Cullompton scouts agreed to put them up. The Church then agreed to provide a team for tent erecting and did this for years for a contribution to the church roof. We used an old trailer from the farm for a while and later asked the council for funding for a proper trailer.’

On the morning of the first market twenty years ago Tracy remembers an early start: ‘At 7.30 am on the morning of the market the whole regeneration group turned up to help put up tents, arrange tables, connect electric cables and distribute table cloths. By 9am we were all set up with our brave, trailblazing producers waiting to see if there would be any customers.

People poured into the car park in their hundreds. Everyone in the town and surrounding villages had come to see this new type of market. 

It was such a new phenomenon that quite a few shoppers were frustrated that we did not have any out of season vegetables and a farmer phoned to say that he had half a dozen heifers that he’d like to bring along.

A committee was formed to run the market with Jenny Radford and Dorothy Anderson remaining active on the CFM Committee today.

Come along to join in the fun, taste the street food and enjoy the local produce on offer from Colin’s Alpaca, Garlandhayes, Westcott farm, Country markets, including gluten free and vegetarian, Ridgeway Cider and Bloomberry juices, Ambrose eggs, Bawden’s bread, Little Bowhayes preserves and others too. There will be Childrens’ activities and an Exhibition of the market’s history and you can spend your vouchers received at the May and June markets.

To find out more about Cullompton Farmers' Market, please click here




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