The next FoodFutures Seasonal Market will be in and around Lancaster Market Square on Friday 16 December. The markets are a little different. When we look for stalls, we look for businesses active in the REconomy – economics as if more mattered than just money. Read on for one trader’s story.
Rod Everett has farmed at Backsbottom Farm south of Wray since 1980. Sheep graze the pastures, but Backsbottom is best known for apple trees. There are 200 varieties, many of them very rare survivals from Lancashire orchards. The farm is organic, so among other things no pesticide is used.
Some apples are sold every autumn as fruit. Some, including windfalls, are pressed on the farm and used to make cider, which Rod ferments into Roborondale Cider Vinegar. More people drink the cider vinegar as a tonic than use it for cooking. Rod also makes wooden products from utensils and chopping boards to walking sticks made out of poles cut during hedge-trimming.
There is a self-service shop at the farm, and products in a few local shops. A lot of sales, though, are through markets, which is where we come in. Rod says: “There is a lot of experimenting and diversity – I am trying to find the right places to sell in. Markets are ideal.” Markets are a kind of community: “In lockdown, the Charter Market was buzzing even in the snow as it was the one place people could go. Markets allow me to see customers and make connections with people interested in local and diverse food.”
This is trading to make community as well as money. Rod wants “a thriving economics” where money stays locally and does good. He says: “I am trying to get people to think differently, especially about money”. He is building trust with an honesty box at the farm shop and a pay-what-you-want system for apples on the stall. He sends apples that don’t sell to the Eggcup food distribution scheme.
Rod’s parting message is: “People should find out where their food comes from, what it’s made from, and if it is going to be good for them.”
If you are inspired but don’t have a farm, Rod suggests looking at Mark Ridsdill Smith’s container-gardening website (verticalveg.org.uk) or finding a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme, where a group of people commit money to a local farm in exchange for produce during the year.
Join us and meet Rod at the next seasonal market, Lancaster’s Midwinter Market, on 16 December.