A day in the life of… A Farmers’ Market
Pembrokeshire produce at its best
If you really want to discover the flavour of Pembrokeshire, and all that its fabulous farmers and local producers have to offer, why not take a trip to a farmers’ market?
Gather a feast for supper, or find a tasty treat to take home with you to remind you of your stay in Pembrokeshire.
The county town of Haverfordwest has an award-winning Farmers’ Market every Friday in the picturesque setting of The Riverside shopping area.
We went behind the scenes of the market to discover its recipe for success, and to give you an insight into the produce on offer and some of the stories of the Pembrokeshire producers.
The day starts early for the traders who arrive to set up their stalls before the early-bird customers appear.
All producers attending are from a defined local area, in the case of Haverfordwest Farmers’ Market, no more than 50 miles and all the produce on sale has been, grown, reared, baked, brewed, caught, pickled, smoked or processed by the producer.
The produce on offer is varied and changes throughout the seasons. The markets run all year round, with different traders at different sites. What is guaranteed is a colourful display of fresh produce to make your mouth water.
Pat Bean, from Springfields in Manorbier, runs her business with husband Nick selling vegetables, fruit and flowers.
Pat said her stall looks different every week, depending on what is in season - asparagus in April, May and June, followed by cherries and then strawberries and raspberries.
The irresistible smell of freshly baked bread – there’s nothing quite like it. The Welsh Bakery has a fine display of loaves, rolls, buns and sweet pastries, with tables overflowing. You’ll be spoilt for choice, but don’t leave it too late as this is a very popular stall!
Shannon the dog was very tempted with some of the cheeses on offer, and even got to taste some samples. Shannon was on holiday in Pembrokeshire with her owners Louise Coates and Stuart Hendry.
The couple, from Hertfordshire, love visiting Pembrokeshire and were staying at their ‘favourite haunt’ of St Brides.
They were impressed with the market, recommending it for its great local produce, excellent value and great taste. They also said it was good to talk to the producers themselves.
“We love coming to the county,” said Louise. “We tend to come in the autumn, after the summer holidays. We come for the peace and tranquility and we unwind and relax.”
Stuart added: “The people here are so friendly and it’s a great time to bring the dog. We walk a lot and love visiting the beaches with Shannon.”
Autumn is a time for pickles, preserves, jam and chutney, and the colours of autumn glow from these jars on the Country Market stall.
Talking to all of the producers, one of the repeated comments was that their customers become friends.
And all the traders have loyal customers who just can’t help but keep coming back for more – a sure sign of quality and value for money.
Cheese, gin and chilli relish may seem like an unusual combination, but that’s exactly what is on offer at the Teifi Cheese stall.
The artisan cheese-makers have won many awards over the years, since setting up Teifi Farmhouse Cheese in Llandysul in 1982.
Glynhynod Farm is also home to the recently built organic distillery – Damhile Distillery.
The distillery began making an orange liquer and now also produces gin. Their seaweed gin has quickly become a top seller.
Fresh vegetables are always on the menu at the markets. A well-established business and market stalwart is F.J. Hathway & Sons, from Broomhill Farm, Angle.
The stall is manned by Barry Hathway, who farms in partnership with his brother Brian. F.J. Hathway was their grandfather who set up the veg growing business.
Today they have around 32 acres of vegetables and their season kicks off with Pembrokeshire early potatoes. They grow everything from carrots, broad beans, beetroot and cabbage to broccoli, parsnips, onions and leeks.
Barry said: “This is my day off at the market – even though I’m working! It’s great to get out with your produce and talk to your customers.”
There’s nothing like a fresh free-range egg to get your day off to a good start! Euros Harvard-Evans and his wife Vanessa own an 8000-hen free-range farm at Crundale and says “the modern customer is one who genuinely cares about the welfare of hens and want to know that eggs have been laid in welfare friendly conditions”......this is why their moto is ‘Happy Hens are Free Range Hens – the quality is in the taste’.
Euros also has duck and goose eggs for sale in season.
Organic meats are a popular buy at the farmers’ markets. Beef and lamb specialist Paul Oeppen, manages 350 acres of farmland, producing organic, native breed beef and lamb.
Paul said farmers’ markets are a great place to buy meat.
“We use native breeds because they taste good – they are not necessarily the heaviest or biggest, but taste is the most important aspect,” he said.
“There is full traceability of the meat, which is important to consumers. And customers can ask any questions and get advice on what cuts of meat to choose.”
Paul has Welsh Blacks, Herefords, Aberdeen Angus and South Devon cattle and has a flock of Lleyns, Dorsets and Hampshire Down sheep. He also supplies the Four Seasons farm shop, outside Tenby, and Ultracomida deli in Narberth.
If you’re looking for something sweet, head to the Country Market stall with a dazzling selection of cakes. If you’ve never tried a freshly cooked Welsh cake, now’s your chance.
Cuckoo Mill Farm, producing farm fresh turkeys, is a long established family business in Pembrokeshire.
Margaret Davies started out 55 years ago and still attends the Haverfordwest market every week.
Christmas may be their busiest time of the year, but they sell turkey all year-round supplying the catering trade, selling to butchers’ shops and selling at farmers’ markets in Pembrokeshire and further afield.
They have one customer in particular who goes to the market every week with the same order.
“We have a man who travels from Tenby, on the bus, every week. He says he’s coming to check up on us and every week he buys the same thing,” said Mrs Davies.
“He buys a turkey wing – which is nearly as big as he is because he’s not very big, and he is 101!”
As well as the weekly market held in Haverfordwest (every Friday, 9am-2pm), there are a number of other markets held around the county:
Fishguard – every Saturday, Fishguard Town Hall, 9am-1.30pm.
St Davids – Thursdays.
St Dogmaels – Tuesdays, 9am-1pm.
Newport – Mondays.
As the stall holders started to pack up for the day, and the umbrellas came down, weary shoppers stopped for a rest before heading home with their bags of goodies.
Find out more about foodie Pembrokeshire and why its a gourmands delight.