I had high hopes of the Farmers’ Market in Headingley as this is one of the more quirky suburbs of the City. It is the traditional home of the student population at one end and a more upmarket area at the other.
This means an assortment of shops, bars and restaurants to cater for all tastes. It has been like this for decades, well before the resurgence of even the most hipster parts of London. I was not disappointed.
Headingley Farmers’ Market is organised and run by Headingley Development Trust and was established in 2006 to counteract the effect of the closure of independent fresh food outlets in the area. Apart from a paid site co-ordinator everyone else is a volunteer, the younger of whom erect and dismantle the stalls each month. Proceeds from the market are put into local community projects, covering everything from housing to planting fruit trees on any spare ground where it is practicable to do so. They also have a cafe in the Heart building on Bennett Road so, as there are no hot food and drink stalls at the market, why not pay them a visit for a rest and a cuppa after a hard morning’s shopping.
The only unfortunate thing about the event was that there was a Food Festival at nearby Kirkstall and a lot of the usual stallholders and customers appear to have gone there instead. It was also mid-July so the students were on recess and many had returned home, or gone travelling, for the summer. The market is not huge but has a great, intimate atmosphere. There was a fab jazz band, The Matineers, providing music as hot as the day was, on the central green. I was assured that under normal circumstances there would be people dancing but today they settled for sitting on the grass listening. To add to the amusement there was a stall run by the market organisers who had set puzzles for both adults and children.
There was the usual mixture of stalls with stalwarts such as Church View Farm and The Organic Pantry. Another of the regular farmers’ market traders, Olianas, informed me that since I last saw them they had won several awards, including Gold Medals, at the Great Yorkshire Show for their cheeses. I can’t vouch for the cheese but last week I bought a couple of their cannoli which didn’t last very long when I got them home.
Some of the stalls which are unique to this market were just sooo Headingley, with happi food selling raw vegan produce, Leave No Trace with their eco-friendly, biodegradable and plastic-free goods juxtaposed with the traditional bakery items and preserves from Headingley Country Market and wet fish sold by J Johnson – Filey. B Whiteley from Pudsey had a range of fruit, veg and plants, including punnets of courgette flowers, not something you see every day.
I really loved this market, both for its range of food and other products and for the real community spirit which pervades the atmosphere. I must call again when there is less competition for the customers and stallholders alike. It takes place on the second Saturday of every month between 9.00am and 12.30pm and is sited in the Rose Garden, North Lane – next door to Arc Bar, or, for those of us of a certain age, the old Lounge Cinema.
Stan writes Let’s Do Lunch for Leeds Living. He also reviews special events for food and drink, which sometimes takes him beyond Leeds. He has also developed an interest in writing on culture, most frequently dramatic and musical theatre.