Every Saturday in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle producers get ready to peddle a dazzling array of fresh food and wares from their stalls on Castle Terrace.
Listed by Lloyd Grossman as one of the World’s Best Farmers’ Markets and now in its 19th year, and behind the bundles of vegetables, stacks of bread and hangers of jumpers are the stallholders who lovingly grow, create and make the products.
The team from Phantassie vegetables, farmed from East Linton, said that although there are a number of markets in the city, the farmers’ market is the “original and best”.
Phantassie stallholder Jo Jackson described the market: “It’s not the biggest or the most busy but it is the one place where you can buy locally grown meat, fish and veg. There is also a mix of local cheesemakers and also pies, amazing fermented olives, posh sausage rolls and vegan kuku.
“It’s a place where you can get everything you need to make a delicious meal, but unlike a trip to your local supermarket, it’s a friendlier, more leisurely, experience.”
Neil Ferguson aka Professor Pods recently set up a company that grows rare and exotic chilli peppers in South West Scotland, and transforms them into chilli sauces and condiments.
Despite the five hour round trip, Neil said bringing Professor Pods to the Farmers’ Market is a great way to engage with new customers.
“The best thing is direct customer interaction and feedback, which is essential for a new business,” Neil said. “We are a small company and can, and do, respond to customer feedback The clientele at EFM are particularly discerning and well informed about food and provenance, and this makes it a very engaging and fun experience to trade there.”
Jon Wood, founder of Bakery Andante, ditched his job in a telecoms company to take up baking. “My job didn’t fulfil me and I was a keen baker in my spare time. I also struggled to find really good proper sourdoughs. I love doing the markets. I love the mix of stalls and the camaraderie, many of the stallholders we have been with for years now. We have a large group of regular customers, many of which we see in the Morningside bakery too.”
But it’s not all about food, the bountiful farms of Scotland reap many benefits and Kate Sharp, has attended the market selling her traditional hand spun yarns and hand knitted bespoke knitwear since 2002.
Made from her pedigree flock of coloured and white Shetland sheep on her farm at Ewingston, East Lothian. Kate said she loves meeting visitors and tourists from all over the world, many of whom have subsequently kept in contact with her.
As a result, she has shipped fleeces, yarn and knitwear across the globe.
Roddy Smith, CEO of Essential Edinburgh who operate Edinburgh Farmers’ Market, said: “The market attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. They are drawn in by the fresh, local food and the traceability of produce and ingredients. The continued appeal of the market is not just in the fantastic fresh local produce on offer, but also the ability for customers to engage with the producers.”