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Deck the Shelves with Local Food!

When the final toffee apple has been eaten and the pumpkin has disintegrated into the ground, it is time to turn our attention to the biggest seasonal foodie occasion of them all: Christmas!

It’s the one time of year where most people push the boat out where food is concerned, and for the most delicious, fresh, and locally produced fare, and some great seasonal offers, you can’t beat a trip to a good farm shop or farmers’ market. Buying local means you can trust what’s on your family’s plate on Christmas Day, and for the season.

Many farm shops and farmers’ markets will be delighted to welcome you and take orders for Christmas turkeys with all the trimmings as well as cakes, pies, puddings – right through to naturally grown Christmas trees, holly and mistletoe to make your home special for the season.

Buying local means buying fresh - vegetables that stay in the ground during these colder days develop a deeper flavour. So for the freshest carrots, parsnips and sprouts, buy local. And don't forget turkeys and other poultry and game direct from the farm that taste just spectacular!

Finding great local foods this season is easy - use our map, farmers' market calendar, or farm retail directory. Some farmers’ markets run special dates in the month of December, so be sure to search and check the dates out before setting off.

Farm shops are open six or seven days a week leading into Christmas and this is an important time for them, so please go support your local farm shops and farmers' markets.


Check out your nearest farm shop or farmers’ market by putting in your postcode, just click here to call up the map and use the search box at the bottom-left of the map.

 
Eat Scottish!

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is the annual celebration of the country's fantastic produce which takes place every September.

Managed by Scotland Food & Drink since 2009, the festival is now well established with more than 200 events taking place across the country at farm shops, food festivals, Farmers' Markets, visitor attractions and restaurants. Look out for a range of activities from in-store tastings to special events and menus.

Visit the website to find out about events near you or search the localfoods.org website for Scottish farm shops and local food retailers.

 

 
Organic September

Acorn FarmOrganic food is controversial.

Yet again this week a study has shown that the nutrition content of organic food is pretty much the same in conventional food. However, organic is about so much more than vitamins.

Organic food is produced by farming systems which work with nature; are kind to animals; avoid using pesticides; and ban GM ingredients. It all sounds very sensible in this day and age, but pause a moment and think back barely a few decades to when intense, pesticide and herbicide driven farming was the encouraged norm.

There is no doubt that the organic movement, spearheaded by the Soil Association in this country, has had a big impact on today's farming principles and consumer expectations. We are by no means out of the water, but alongside the local food movement, organics has been the inspiration behind the still increasing numbers of conventional as well as fully certified organic farms choosing to work in a way that is kinder to the soil, the animals and the people they serve. For many people, organic principles are the only way forward in the face of a global food crisis where they believe the alternative prospect of GM crops will ultimately do more harm than good.

This September is a great chance to find out more about what Organic really means for you and the future of the food on your plate, the chance to challenge yourself to shop and eat better.

Visit the Organic September website for ideas on everything from growing your own to beekeeping, shopping on a budget to conscientious dining out.

Plus Sign up to support Organic growers and producers by signing a pledge to put one more organic product in your weekly shopping basket, or take part in a survey on the availability of organic products where you shop and win a hamper full of goodies.

 

 

 
Long Days and Lively Children

 

When the holidays seem to go on forever, but the budget doesn't, a trip to one of the hundreds of family-friendly farms in the UK offers a perfect day out for all ages.

All weather-friendly - Many farms offer farm trails and trailer rides, plus animals to feed or handle. Some, such as Pink Pig Farm in Lincolnshire or Broom House Farm in Durham, have a broader range of activities including huge sandpits, mini tractors, ball pools, forts and treehouses. In wet weather, look out for those with playbarns, good cafes and farm shops.

Delicious food - Tasty homegrown, homemade, and local food is served in many on-farm restaurants, and usually includes child-friendly options. The ingredients are often available from a farm shop onsite so you can take home some of that delicious local ice-cream or dry cured bacon with you.

Affordable fun – Well-organised and action-packed farm trails may well charge a fee, but this is often kept to a minimum to provide for maintenance and labour costs and tends to be a lot lower than typical fees at visitor attractions. Some farms offer a season ticket entitling the holders to limitless visits and sometimes extras like free drinks (Taverners' Farm outside Exeter offers free gourmet ice-cream toppings to Meadow members!). Don't forget pick-your-own farms either, which provide the chance to harvest the best and freshest seasonal fruit and vegetable yourself at great prices).

Discover family-friendly farms in your area online. Or call us on 0845 45 88 420.

 

 
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Calendar dates and other information is subject to change; always check with the market organiser or shop before setting out!