A new pop-up farm shop is encouraging more people to stock their cupboards with seasonal local produce.
‘Seasons of the Glens’ was launched earlier this year at Naturally North Coast and Glens Artisan Market in Ballycastle, and since then it has attracted a growing customer and producer base.
The social enterprise sells a varied range of fruit and vegetables, preserves, speciality food and dairy products, bringing together a range of growers and producers who might otherwise be unable to get their goods to a local market.
The idea was inspired by demand from market customers for fresh local produce, and it became a reality through funding from The Rank Foundation’s Profit for Good Fund.
Market Manager Shauna McFall explains: “We put forward a proposal for a farm shop and thankfully it was accepted. We are operating as a social enterprise, so the profits are put back in to the shop with the aim of making it sustainable. Since our launch, it has been very well received and we have had a great response from the public. We’ve noticed a big demand for our fruit and vegetable products which has been really encouraging for us as we look ahead.”
As well as individual producers, Broughgammon Farm, Cloughmills Community Action Team and Greenlight Gateway are among the contributors to the shop. The overall ethos is to keep costs low and make it an effective platform for everyone involved.
All traders at the market are fully behind the venture, and often help out by collecting and transporting produce, aiding overall efficiency and reducing food miles. And when the shop pops up, it’s managed by Linda McConnell from Limavady who is on hand to champion the local producers and ensure customers know the story of where their goods come from.
As its name suggests, seasonality is an important characteristic of the shop’s stock. In an age when most fruit and vegetables are available all year round, the venture encourages shoppers to return to more natural eating patterns. Buying ‘in season’ is better for the environment, and means you get optimum flavour and freshness. Shauna says she is delighted by the support of producers so far, and it has raised awareness of the variety of high quality artisan products which are made right across Northern Ireland, including some surprises like a smoked tomato ketchup and avocado mayonnaise.
“Since setting up the shop we have discovered products which we didn’t even know existed until we started. We are keen to promote and sell local produce and would encourage anyone out there with goods which might fit the shop to get in touch. If you are a farmer, home grower, community group or artisan maker then we want to hear from you,” she said.
The shop’s inception comes at a time when local produce and food provenance are in demand with the local community as well as visitors. In 2018 Northern Ireland was named Best Food Destination at the International Travel and Tourism Awards while Taste Causeway was announced as the runner-up in a quest to find Ireland’s ultimate foodie destination just last month.
With this trend set to continue, Seasons of the Glens has identified a gap in local market provision which is beneficial for both consumers and producers alike.
The shop can be found popping up at upcoming local markets and events, including Roe Valley Speciality Market in Limavady on Saturday 21st September and the Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival on Saturday 5th October. To find out more go to www.seasonsoftheglens.co.uk or check out their Facebook page.