What’s not to love about a new West Sussex farmers market? The first Danefold Country Market last year had the feel of a village fete on a balmy summer’s day. Set in a field, with the South Downs as a suitable backdrop (and with the advantage of free parking in the field) there was a live band, a cake stall, a wide range of local produce and crafts and a few rural craft demos along with Danefold Farms beef burgers and chip butties.
At the far end of the stalls, you could hear the gentle and reassuring chug of a couple of vintage engines brought out and proudly displayed by collectors and there was the expected assortment of straw hats, summer dresses and people with dogs and arms full of plants, browsing the delightful selection of stalls.
Local produce of every description
Lingering at each stall as I did, was a lesson in resilience, ingenuity, and discovery. Almost all stallholders had a unique Covid survival story to tell. Some had had to change the very nature of their business, many had realised that their previous existence was not making them happy and had turned their hands to pursuing their passion. All were inventive, creative and full of passion for what they were doing.
There were award-winning marmalade makers, nurses turned gin makers, alcoholic jams and preserves, woodturners, olive oil producers, cheese makers, and artists. The Sea Jam Jazz Quintet (who have an extremely impressive pedigree) played away in the background, and there was the gentle buzz of a well-run, local event with kids lazing under trees, tabarded marshals keeping things ticking over, and people treating themselves. In fact, all it lacked was a tanoy and a tombola and I would have been fully immersed in village fete heaven.
The Martin family are 4th generation farmers who over the decades have farmed right across Sussex but for the last 30 yrs, have been based at Danefold Farms near Partridge Green in West Sussex. They breed and rear pedigree Aberdeen Angus, Beef Shorthorn, and White Park cattle. Their beef is Pasture for Life certified beef, slow-matured fed on a 100% pasture diet. Pasture for Life means that they are part of a movement of British farmers committed to producing animal products in the most ethical and natural way possible. But Danefold is now about more than just ethical farming.
When Olly Martin returned to help take up the reins at the farm, he had a vision: to engage with the local community, to help the community reconnect with the countryside and each other, and to manage the farm in a regenerative way that would ensure it’s sustainability for future generations. Not much of a challenge then! Olly knew they were producing great quality meat but he wanted to ensure that distribution was kept local and so the beginning of an idea was formed. With the first lockdown shutting down town markets, that idea took shape: a local market that brings the community together, providing support for local artisans and producers and engaging the community. Holding a market at their family farm in a fabulous outdoor space seemed a safe way of doing that and keeping things local.
Let’s do it again
This is a great addition to the existing West Sussex Farmers Markets and the next Danefold market will be held on the 30th July between 9 am and 4 pm. I’ll see you there, somewhere between the craft gin and the beers!
You can find out more at Products – Danefold Farms
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