Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published March 20th 2016
Local, Organic, Fresh
When I stepped out of Oval tube station on Saturday afternoon, I had no plans to go shopping; I was just there for a nice walk through Kennington Park. But my walk was delayed when I saw a big banner on the opposite side of the road saying 'Oval Farmers' Market, every Saturday 10am-3pm'. I love browsing markets, so I took a diversion from my itinerary of activities and made my way through the gates of St Mark's Church.
Oval Market is organised by City & Country Farmers' Markets, a family run business whose mission is to 'develop markets offering top-quality locally-sourced produce and unique crafts across London.' Chris Elder established the business in 2001, but Oval Market did not make its appearance until 2007. Situated in St Mark's beautiful garden, it is considered an 'oasis' surrounded by urban life. It is a popular location with families, dog walkers, and church go-ers, and the market allows people to buy local, fresh produce, as well as tasty street food, and a few craft products.
Right next to the church I saw a tent run by Fiona Bell Currie, an award winning artist, illustrator, writer, gardener, and fabric designer. She runs My-Gorgeous-Cards, which is primarily an e-commerce business, but also gets exposure through fairs and markets such as this. As the name suggests, Fiona specialises in selling cards designed by less well-known artists who deserve recognition. What I thought were special, however, were her self-designed tea towels, each featuring ordinance maps of different parts of London. Ones I spotted included Wimbledon, Kingston-Upon-Thames, and Kennington.
Further down was a flower stall, but even more interesting than that was The Culinary Herb Company, who sell all kind of interesting potted herbs in organic soil for £3 each. As well as the usual herbs you expect to see, such as parsley, thyme, and rosemary, there were varieties that you are unlikely to see available in giant stores. The ones that peaked my interest were pineapple mint, grapefruit mint, and chocolate mint.
Probably the most numerous type of stalls were the ones selling meat. Among them were The Giggly Pig, Blackhand Food, Marsh Produce, and Godmersham Game. It was this one where I bought some delicious sausages, which included guinea fowl & ginger, duck, orange & apricot, and wild boar & apple. Owned by Phil Miles, he also had venison, and whole rabbit.
As well as fresh meat, Limpopo Butchers had wonderful dry cured biltong for snacking. There were flavours such as chilli, BBQ, and garlic.
If you do get hungry while walking around, there are plenty of stalls where you can buy food for on the go. You can get giant scotch eggs off The Pie Cart, fish and chips, or luxury chocolate from Blowing Dandelion.
Although a bit too expensive for me, I was very tempted by the fresh fish from Portland Scallop Co, who sell a large variety of quality seafood that I never see in the supermarket. They have oysters for £1 each, sea bass, swordfish steaks, turbot, and much more.
While you might be able to buy many sorts of honey from the supermarket, Happy Bees provide much more: raw English honey, natural English comb honey, English pollen, propolis, and natural beeswax candles.
Out everything at the market, the thing I found most attractive was the bread. The Old Post Office Bakery had gorgeous rustic loaves of rye and sourdough, while another stall further down had quirky turtle bread.
Oval Farmers' Market has fruit, veg, meat, fish, bread, cheese, juice, soup, and snacks; practically everything you need for your week's grocery shopping. The only thing you'll have to pop into the corner store for is a pint of milk.