Since abandoning my ridiculous “I’m never going to live south of the river” stance and moving to Forest Hill in 2010, I’ve fallen well and truly in love with Saaafff Landan.
I spent eight years living in Earls Court, Olympia and Brook Green, shopping on High St Kensington and thinking that was my pocket of London. Little did I know that when I eventually grew up, saw sense and felt ready to leave that I would find a part of this grand old city that would overwhelm me.
The area has seen huge change even in the short amount of time I’ve been living here, and the most recent is that the stunning Horniman Museum, joint-winner of The Telegraph’s Family Friendly Museum Award, is now hosting a farmers market every Saturday from 9am to 1.30pm in the grounds. Launching at the weekend and running through until December 21st, the market offers locally sourced, locally sold produce from seasonal fruit and veg through to meat, cheese, breads, cakes and hot food.
Finding ourselves with a free Saturday and knowing just how hard and tiring it is to launch new markets and trade at them, we made a beeline for the Horniman via a rumble (that’s a run coupled with lots of grumbling from me – lingering knee injury plus a couple of glasses of wine the night before did not a free-flowing runner make) to check it out. I was really pleased to see people coming away with bags full of goods and had a sneak suspicion some serious shopping might be involved.
We really were spoilt for choice – the stalls all looked colourful and “healthy” (unlike supermarket shelves) and the stallholders were friendly and knowledgeable. Imagine my delight when I even found a purple cauliflower, that went straight into my basket. In the end we came away with wonderfully fresh eggs and apple juice from Brambletye Fruit Farm (the eggs promptly went into post-run protein-laden breakfast); spinach, mixed leaf salad and blackberries from Wild Country Organics; chicken and mushroom rolls from Little Jack Horner (that was dinner on Saturday, along with the mixed leaf salad); spring onions, tomatoes and the cauli from Manor Farm; a chocolate and salted caramel muffin from Mr Muffin and an amazing lemon cronut from one of the bakers (my first cronut experience).
The shopping opportunities were plenty and we could have bought more, but were also conscious that we didn’t want to over-buy and then end up throwing things away because we had too much. It was also interesting to compare prices with Sainsbury as we took our stash back home – our giant cauliflower cost 80p, or 2 for £1.20. In the supermarket, a pathetic looking tiny cauli, already rubbery, was £1. Spinach was literally wilting in the bag compared to my fresh and fragrant pickings from the farmers market.
We won’t be able to make the next couple owing to market events ourselves, but I’ll definitely be back – this time with a bit more planning and a few recipe ideas in my head so I can really make the most of what the farmers market has to offer. Living on a mostly vegetarian diet, autumn is when I think veggies really come into their own so I can’t wait to support local farmers and do better for my health and my purse in the process.