Farmers' Markets are the best place to purchase local seasonal food and the following is my guide to the best of what is on offer over the summer around the Northumberland coast.
In Northumberland, we are lucky to have skilled and committed farmers offering us some of the best fresh meat in the country and which is often only available from local Farmers' Markets. I think it’s the grass and wild herbs that the animals eat which makes the field beef, hill lamb, free range poultry and pork taste better.
I spoke to Green Brae owner Carolyn Graham who told me that at Harbottle farm, they grow organic grains, peas, beans and grass to feed their animals over winter. Their Texel lamb will be on sale now from Alnwick Farmers' Market and the sweet, tender hill blackface lamb will not be ready until August. I find that asking producers at Farmers' Markets what they feed their animals with helps me make my decision.
If you are looking for a taste of summer, Helen Farr of Sloecraft makes raspberry vodka and elderflower gin. And for a non-alcoholic fruity taste I recommend seasonal preserves made by The Mad Jam Woman especially her gooseberry with elderflower wine jam and blackcurrant jam.
Our cool spring means that wheat and barley crops will be late this year, but I think local honey, milk, cheeses, fish and really free range eggs also provide a taste of our wonderful countryside. At my next visit to the Farmers' Market I will be looking out for soft fruits and salads as they will be in season very soon.
Details of all Farmers’ Markets in North East England can be found on the website and on facebook.