Producing the Goods 2

Devon Pannier markets - turn up and sell


What could be simpler than turning up at the market and selling. Markets should provide opportunities for local growers of all sizes - full-time farmers to enthusiasts with too many marrows - to sell produce in the nearest market place. Indeed this is a common model in the everyday markets in some European countries including France, Poland and Italy.

Nearer to home some Devon markets also fit this bill. Francis Hancock who farms at Landkey, sells apples at nearby Barnstaple Pannier Market on Fridays from August until his store runs out in spring. The wonderful thing about this arrangement is that it allows customers to get their hands on unusual varieties, which are difficult to market commercially under more formal or regulated circumstances. Frances's fruit - he grows forty varieties of fruit in four orchards - reads like a west country gazetteer including Devonshire Quarrenden and Cornish Gilliflower apples, as well as mazzards - a dark juicy cherry particularly associated with Landkey orchards.

Pannier markets are distinguished by offering 'no fixed stalls or shops and provided only crude tables or benches on which the sellers could display their panniers'.

South Moulton, a few miles south of Barnstaple, also has a pannier market, and in 2005 it opened its doors free-of-charge to local people wishing to sell apples and non-alcoholic orchard produce and crafts. The inspiration was the long-standing success of the Apple Day apple display at Rosemoor Garden. Visitors to that annual RHS event in Great Torrington are delighted to see the displays of dozens of local and obscure varieties but wanted to be able to buy them. So under the auspices of the Dartington North Devon Trust, the pannier market was hired for the day (for £40 under the car boot sale category) and a handful of people came and sold apples in November 2005. The event will be repeated over 5 years to see what develops - South Molton's markets manager simply incorporated the monthly farmers' market into the existing Saturday market.

Apple Boot Sales

Orchards Live, a group of activists working to save orchards in North Devon, have a novel idea for apple growers who want to sell surplus fruit (as well as orchard produce such as juice and chutneys). They held an apple boot sale at South Molton Pannier Market in November 2005, where lucky shoppers could find all kinds of wonderful varieties not normally sold in shops, as well as 'real' fruit of all shapes and sizes that do not conform to the draconian gradng regulations imposed by the superstores.

Contact: Jane Schofield, Hon. Sec., Orchards Live
e-mail: jane [at]