Scotland’s first farmers’ market turns 20
As Perth Farmers’ Market celebrates its 20th anniversary, founder Jim Fairlie and manager Adeline Watson look back at the last two decades, and how the market has grown.
Fairlie was behind the development, and after getting the market up and running, he travelled around Scotland and supported other producers interested in establishing similar initiatives around the country.
He now runs his own retail business selling Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI, and was among the very first producers who gathered back in April 1999 to set up the first Farmers’ Market – 12 stalls in King Edward Street in Perth City Centre.
Two decades on, there are now around 50 stalls showcasing local produce on the first Saturday of every month in Perth’s city centre.
Fairlie said his early idea was to offer an opportunity for farmers to sell direct to consumers as an alternative to selling only through the major multiple retailers.
“The inspiration came on a visit to France,” said Fairlie. “Food is a huge part of French culture and it was clear that farmers’ markets were thriving there as a result of French consumers’ desire for top quality local food that they know and trust.”
“Farmers’ markets offer a two-way benefit – producers can meet and get a valuable understanding of what their consumers want and forge a close relationship with them, and consumers can get to know and trust the people who produce the food they buy.” He said.
Adeline Watson, Perth Farmers’ Market manager, said plans are afoot to celebrate the anniversary with an event at Perth College and a particular focus on the market on June 1st.
“The market really has gone from strength to strength and it is incredibly rewarding to see loyal, regular stallholders attending at the start of every month and to welcome new local food and drink producers.
“We now have a huge range of food and drink producers taking stalls at our markets which are held in Perth city centre on the first Saturday of every month. These range from cheese and artisan bread to cider, wine and local beef, lamb and pork.”