Hackney Farmers’ Market: fresh, ethical produce and a safe, outdoor shopping experience

Image by Growing Communities Marketing Director

With the world steadily creeping back to life post Covid-19, everyday tasks like food shopping can be the difference between closure and business for modest farming families selling to markets.

Growing Communities Farmers’ Market in Hackney is one of the few food markets in London that have stayed open during lockdown, remaining a vital source of income for its vendors and a comfort of safety for longtime shoppers.

Growing Communities stocks food from a variety of family run small businesses, one being organic livestock farmers Fabienne and Simon Peckham from Galileo Farm in Warwickshire.

The Peckhams said: “As a small producer I definitely feel many people don’t understand just how crucial the farmers’ markets are to us and our animals. We aren’t a big business with lots of money behind us. The animals that we rear, our aim is for them to thrive and that is the front to any decision that we make about them.”

Pic: Growing Communities Marketing Director

Kerry Rankine, the Growing Communities Farmers’ Market coordinator is hopeful the reflection time during quarantine and limited resources might encourage Hackney locals to rethink the timeline of how food is produced and purchased.

“I’m concerned about farmers’ ability to harvest food as we get further into the lockdown and the spread of C-19 affects their staff. Looking further ahead, I do have a tiny hope that this crisis will bring about a re-think across our wider society about the importance of things we’ve taken for granted from how our food gets to us and the key role of the farmers and fishermen who produce it – to the people collecting our bins and keeping our cities functioning and the NHS workers on the front line.”

“I’m very grateful to our customers who’ve been very patient and have queued beautifully and mostly cheerfully” says Rankine Pic: Growing Communities Marketing Director

The suppliers at Growing Communities have taken extra precautions in handling their food goods.

  1. Vegtable packing

Minimized staff handling the transport of produce to avoid unnecessary foot traffic. Those who remain adhere strictly to official public health guidelines and wear appropriate contamination prevention garments. The returned plastic bags and swap boxes are in quarantine rotation to eliminate risk of contamination on produce. 

2. Delivery Van

Delivery van is cleaned strictly in between every delivery to minimise the risk of bringing the virus inside. 

3. Market

Generously spaced stalls allow for thorough social distancing. Most vendors have gone cashless and provide contactless options. Hand sanitizer is offered at every station. Food samples are no longer being offered and many pre-cooked are being packaged off site to lower risk of on-site contamination. 

Pic: Growing Communities Marketing Director

Being outside also helps as shoppers are more easily able to social distance and minimise touching the same objects or surfaces.

One of the government’s advisors, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said: “It is absolutely categorically clear that outdoor spaces with higher degrees of ventilation are less problematic environments for transmission than indoor spaces.”

Mairine Power of Stoke Newington posted to the Growing Communities Facebook page: “Thanks so much GC for all the work you do to keep the market open safely.

“As someone else remarked it’s the only shopping experience where physical distancing is in place outside and, equally important, inside. I appreciate the risk you all take to provide food to the good folk of Stokey. Thanks again.”

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