In 1999 , Hampshire County Council decided that we ought to be looking at Farmers Markets. The Economic Development department in the Castle headed up by Frances Stokes, got to work and everyone who had any connection to rural industry was invited to a round table meeting to look at the initiative. Frances had been off to Bath Farmers Markets, credited for being the first such market in the UK and duly reported back. Winchester Farmers market was born, four markets during the year, proved to be such a huge success, the following year the markets were rolled out to a number of other venues across the county. Twenty years on Winchester market and a number of other venues have survived, when other markets around the country have come and gone. The fact that the markets have survived is testament to the commitment by HCC in the early days to get a structure and rule book in place, we have had our ups and downs along the way, but it is disappointing to see a limited amount of primary producers applying to sell at the markets, and it will be critical to the next 20 years. We are part of the High Street, what is the future?
The Artisan Cheese Festival, Melton Mowbray, was another success, particularly for Old Winchester. For us it is a good opportunity to get closer to the North Pole, and I jest not, we froze to death on the Saturday. Having got closer to the North Pole, we meet our customer base north of Birmingham and keep in touch with everyone, great two days.