On Sunday, 1st May, I popped along as usual to Ashford’s Farmers’ Market. The weather was lovely and that seemed to have brought more people to come out and buy straight from the producer. One of the things I like about Farmers’ Markets is that the people who make their produce, be it artisan bread, cheeses, chocolates or something gamey and delicious from Stour Valley Game, are all very enthusiastic about their ingredients and how good their food tastes. Rightly so. I bought some fig and walnut bread, sundried tomato and rosemary focaccia (really nice toasted with goats cheese and pine nuts) and two ENORMOUS chocolate brownies from Gary’s Artisan Bakery. They were scrumptious.
I also bought some guinea fowl and ginger sausages and a wild boar joint from Stour Valley Game. The sausages were soft, juicy and so full of flavour; you realise that supermarket sausages are stringy, tough and overly seasoned because of their ingredients …
Of course, Ashford is an historic market town. It was granted its Market Charter in 1243 and operated in almost exactly the same area as today: around Middle Row in the High Street. In Medieval times, the meat would have been slaughtered very close by to ensure freshness. This kind of market was called a shambles: obviously a rather messy, perhaps chaotic place with various human and animal noises, and blood, and this is where we derive our modern words ‘shambles’ and ‘shambolic’ (when applying them to my kids’ bedrooms).
The buildings around this part of Ashford Town centre are the largest collection of old buildings in the town. If the weather is fine in the next couple of days, I’ll go out and take some photos of them to post up. It is great that the market tradition of Ashford is maintained, not just through the monthly Farmers’ Market, but through the fruit and vegetable, fish, and other stalls that are set up on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
I’ve emailed Rachel Heather, the Market Manager at Ashford Council, and she’s told me that there are lots of exciting plans ahead for the monthly market: more stalls, street entertainment and street food, so that people can eat whilst they shop. All of this will continue the buzz that is beginning to sound in Ashford’s Town Centre.