Buying local in the Cotswolds
Whilst the idea of field-to-fork and low ‘food miles’ would be nothing new to our grandparents and possibly our parents too, it’s had a huge resurgence over the last few years. Here in the Cotswolds, we’re lucky enough to have access to high quality, locally grown produce year-round, and so it stands to reason that the region also has some outstanding farmers markets. Fill your bags with sumptuous local produce and goodies ready to create wonderful meals back at your holiday cottage or recreate a little taste of the Cotswolds on your return home.
What’s on offer changes with the turn of the seasons and farmers markets can be a veritable feast of artisan food producers, locally-based farmers, brewers and distillers, picklers, cheesemakers, and bakers. The benefits from buying at a farmers’ market are also endless. In addition to supporting local producers, you’re also buying homegrown or homemade, not mass-made produce. You’re getting what’s in season and eating it when it’s meant to be eaten, and in the case of fruit and vegetables, was probably still in the ground or on the tree 24 hours earlier.
A wander around a farmers’ market is a tangible experience. Sights, aromas and sounds all combine and add to the atmosphere. Sometimes you’ll find live music or demonstrations, and in many cases, you can have a little try before you buy. Most tend to be dog friendly so your four-legged friends can enjoy a treat too. Card payment is acceptable to most and whilst you might find prices slightly higher than in a supermarket, the quality is beyond compare.
You could just take our word for it, or you could pay a visit to a few of our favourites below.
The Bath Farmers Market is where you’ll find fresh, seasonal, organic, and non-organic produce. Pick up salt marsh lamb, venison and game, an abundance of wonderfully fresh vegetables, pâté, pies, and pasties plus cheese galore. You’ll also find a delightful array of teas, tisanes, and roasted coffee plus juices, honey and preserves.
When: every Saturday
The Oxfordshire market town of Charlbury was granted a Charter by King Henry III in 1257 and the farmers market here, although less frequent than in other towns, offers a charming array of stalls. You can expect locally smoked fish, wonderful bakes, as well as honey and honey-based products.
When: quarterly – second Saturday in each quarter
Set against a backdrop of Regency buildings, the Cheltenham Farmers Market was awarded best Farmers Market in Gloucestershire by Cotswold Life and continues to live up to its reputation. The colourful line of stalls showcases wares from within a 30-mile radius of Cheltenham and you’ll find fabulous charcuterie, fresh fruit and veg, artisan bread (including outstanding sourdough), fresh fish and some truly decadent desserts.
When: second and fourth Friday in the month
Where: Chipping Norton
Chipping Norton sits at one of the highest points in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds and there’s been a market held in the medieval market square here since the 13th century. The square is now the home of the monthly farmer’s market. Browse stalls filled with fresh produce from the surrounding area including lovely baked goods, meat, plants, preserves and honey.
When: third Saturday in the month
Presided over the medieval spires of the Church of St. John the Baptist this lovely farmers market offers a range of fruit and veg, fabulous pies and baking and locally brewed beer. The main produce comes from the surrounding area and other produce must be locally made and include at least one ingredient grown or produced in the surrounding area.
When: second and fourth Saturday in the month
Gloucester Farmers Market offers a range of local produce with up to twenty stalls including a huge selection of soft fruit during the summer months. You’ll find locally reared meat, game and poultry, free-range eggs, and baked treats from two local bakeries as well as award-winning goat’s cheeses, locally brewed ciders, plants, and a great selection of street food.
When: every Friday
This vibrant market in the foodie-haven of Nailsworth usually has between 18 and 20 stalls offering local meat, vegetables, cheese, and baking. Additionally, you’ll find a selection of artisan craft stalls with handmade jewellery and soaps, and a place to enjoy fresh coffee and cake. Very often there’s live music adding to the lively atmosphere.
When: fourth Saturday in the month
Where better than to browse the tempting delights of a farmers’ market than in its traditional setting. Head to beautiful Stow-in-the-Wold and you can do just that. The market stalls line the old market square and sell all sorts of wonderful produce from farmhouse cheeses and locally reared meats to wine, cider and juice and delicious pastries and freshly-baked bread.
When: second and last Thursday from April to September and second Thursday in the month from October to March
Stroud in Gloucestershire is one of the biggest and most well-known farmers markets but don’t let that put you off. The produce is superb, much of it is organic and you’ll find an interesting array of stalls covering butchers, bakers, preserves, chutneys and pickles, Cotswold cheeses and much more. There’s usually between 50-55 different stalls, traditional and contemporary crafts, and a busker’s corner. Everything comes from within a 17-mile radius of Stroud, and it’s also a bit of a celebrity haunt!
When: every Saturday
Woodstock farmers’ market is a great spot for the best in local food, drinks, and artisan crafts. Pick up locally made cheese, fresh seafood, and yummy baked goods as well as fresh fruit, vegetables, and beverages from the Woodstock Brewery. After you’ve filled your bags with goodies take a wander around the old historic town to the Town Gate. Spread before you will be a glorious vista across the lake to the Grand Bridge and Blenheim Palace.
When: first and third Saturday in the month