Farmers market celebrates 20 years of good food
Wednesday, 12th April 2023 by Kyra Hanson
GC farmers market artwork by Mary Cinque

To book your place for our trip to Ripple Farm on Sunday 16 July, scroll down or click here.


The UK's only all-organic food market turns 20 this year and is throwing a series of events to mark this special milestone. The celebrations kick off in May with a market tour with free samples available on a first come first served basis. There will also be a talk on the future of food with regenerative farmer Marina O'Connell and food campaigner Vicki Hird and in July Growing Communities will host a day trip to Ripple Farm in Kent, a super sustainable smallscale farm that has been growing organically since the 1980s. 

With 20 years of championing better food under its belt, Growing Communities (GC) has plenty of insights to share on how we can nourish ourselves with delicious food (not just turnips!) without destroying our planet. The market was set up for Growing Communities in 2003 by Kerry Rankine. She now works as the market coordinator.

As well as providing the local community with access to farm-fresh, organic produce, the market welcomes many local chefs through the gates. Customers say they buy more organic food, eat more seasonally, shop more locally and cook more adventurously thanks to Growing Communities Farmers' Market. As well as offering a low food-mile way to shop, the market has been a long-term champion of the refill movement - customers can bring along egg cartons as well as their own containers to refill milk and honey.  

The market employs local people and works closely with its independent producers. It has incubated many new Hackney-based food businesses, giving them a place to test products, gather feedback and build a loyal fan base. 

Producers flying the flag for ‘made in Hackney’ include Niko B Chocolates, who handmakes organic, artisan chocolates in his Newington Green kitchen; Hackney’s earth-friendly granola makers Holy Granoly; Hatice, who makes fresh gözleme; James from Re:organics who makes small batch fermented beverages and kimchi using local seasonal ingredients; and local honey supplier Eric at Honey Hydrant. 


Dates for your diary

Date: Saturday 13 May 
Time: market opening times, 10am-2.30pm
Address: St Paul's Church, Stoke Newington, N16 7UE

Speech and cake-cutting led by Mayor of Hackney and veg scheme member Philip Glanville at 12.30pm.
Try before you buy! After 12 noon, some stalls will offer the chance to sample fresh seasonal produce grown as nature intended, plus organic sausages and vegan and veggie options (samples are on a first come, first served basis.)
See a photo exhibition of the market through the years.
Pose with vegetable-themed props and share your market memories.

Market tour at 11am is sold out. We'll be in touch with ticket holders nearer the time.


Sold out!
Date: Wednesday 17 May 
Time: 6.30pm arrival for 7pm start
Price: £5/£3 concession with free glass of organic wine or soft drink. 
Address: Stoke Newington Bookshop, 159 Stoke Newington High St, London N16 0NY

Are we destined for a turnip-based food future? How can the UK feed itself in a climate-friendly and delicious way? Are supermarkets helping or hindering our move to sustainable food?  We invite you to an evening with Marina O'Connell, a leading regenerative farmer and author of Designing Regenerative Food Systems, and Vicki Hird, Hackney-based author of Rebugging the Planet and food and farming campaigner, to answer these questions and look at what we need to do to create a food system that works for all of us and doesn't cost the earth.


Date: Sunday 16 July 
Time: 9.30am till 6pm
Address: Ripple Farm Organics, Canterbury CT4 7EB
Travel: A coach will pick up guests from The Old Fire Station, 61 Leswin Road, N16 7NX and travel to Kent. 
Tickets: £19 per person to cover the cost of the coach, plus Eventbrite fee
Bring a picnic and dress for the weather including shoes suitable for farmland. GC will lay on a free cream tea - including a vegan version.

Book your place here. Tickets go on sale 12 noon, Saturday 13 May

An amazing opportunity to see smallscale, sustainable farming in action. Ripple Farm has been supplying the Growing Communities veg scheme and farmers' market since the start. It's a chance to escape the city and enjoy a day out in nature while learning about some of the challenges farmers face and the solutions at our fingertips. 

Martin and Sarah Mackey farm 120 acres spread out over three rented sites. By selling through select farmers’ markets and small-scale box schemes, such as GC and the other Better Food Traders, Sarah and Martin can generate the income they need to be able to afford to farm sustainably. 

Unlike large monocultural farms that are reliant on pesticides and largely devoid of wildlife, Ripple is an oasis – bees buzzing everywhere and birds singing overhead, including rare larks and turtle doves.

When the RSPB turtle dove officer visited a few years ago, she said: “The farm is absolutely amazing and the amount of fumitory and other arable wildflowers lifted my soul! I have never seen a farm like it – I was blown away.”


Growing Communities in numbers  

•    Today GC Farmers’ Market in north-east London supports 20 small-scale, climate-friendly farmers and producers – almost all within 70 miles of London.
•    Its farmer-focused approach means all the money goes to the farmer; it can be as little as 1p in every £1 in the conventional food system!
•    Every £1 spent on food at the farmers' market generates £3.70 in benefits for local people, the farmers and the planet.
•    The market attracts a diverse crowd, some 40% of whom have been visiting us for at least 5-10 years.
•    The market is good for your mental health. In a recent survey we found that three-quarters of people visiting the farmers’ market (76%) say they are happier after their visit than when they arrive, compared with just 5% of shoppers at a local supermarket.


Why is Stoke Newington farmers' market special?

kerry with kale at farmers market

Kerry Rankine. Growing Communities' market coordinator, says:

"The sheer abundance of produce brought to the market every week by the farmers and their hard work and dedication to farming in a sustainable way despite huge challenges, never fails to impress me. It's fantastic to be celebrating this 20th anniversary with our amazing customers who make this all possible!" 

Antony of Niko B with chocolates 

Anthony, founder of Niko B Chocolates Local organic chocolatier and stallholder says:  
"From top to bottom the market lives its values: a leader in the organic food movement, a true partner to the diverse communities it serves, social enterprise, affordable and they care… Everyone I’ve ever encountered from Growing Communities has made it clear that all of the traders matter, the visitors to the market matter and the environment matters. And when an organisation is true to its values you can feel it. It's palpable and not simply words on placards." 

Metsle from Bore Place at farmers market 

Metske, farmer and stall holder from Bore Place Market Garden says:

"It is a joy to supply and trade with people who are in it for the right reasons, locally produced, respect for nature and the people who work the land. I hope I can pay this back with good quality vegetables for years to come." 
What market customers are saying:
"My spirits have lifted. It feeds my psyche as well as my body. It gives me exercise, sociability and vegetables!"  Anon, 2023 survey 
"I look forward to the sight of the market and the assembly of producers each Saturday morning. It is a long journey from Hayes for me but I know it will be a rewarding one. The fresh produce I purchase is appreciated and I know that I’m supporting worthy enterprise efforts."  Anon, farmers' market survey, October 2022 
"Best market in London. It's our weekly highlight."  Theodoros Papatheodorou, Google review 2022  

Author name: 
Kyra Hanson