I have lived in Crystal Palace for more than half my life and witnessed much change. Some I have helped fight against, some I have embraced and some I have been utterly indifferent to. My big passion is food. Back in the day we had a butchers and a bakers, a fishmonger, even a real life green grocer. Everyone shopped locally, so in that respect nothing has changed. Then one by one the local food business’ of the 90’s disappeared, either forced out by the likes of Safeway’s and latterly Sainsbury’s or hit by the recession. Then something wonderful happened. Someone attending the Crystal Palace Transition Town
AGM asked a very pertinent question. One that was going to shape the future of locally produced food, Saturdays in Crystal Palace were never going to be the same again.
“How can we increase
sustainably produced local food in SE19?” someone asked at our Transition Town AGM. Crystal Palace had no grocer, fishmonger or butcher, just a Sainsburys. One year later, a small dedicated team led by volunteers launched in earnest. Could a market of sustainably and locally produced food survive in urban SE19?”
Well of course the answer was yes and a crack team led by Karen Jones
, Rachel De Thample
and Laura Marchant-Short
together with an army of volunteers and advisors breathed life into the market which officially launched a year ago this weekend. Crystal Palace Food Market
is now a much loved fixture on the weekend calendar for many Palacians “The place to go” brimming over with community spirit, the market has bought local business’ and local people together.
Local politicians support us, Ed Milliband and Chuka Umunna even visited us on ‘Small Business Saturday” 2013. More importantly though, our regulars now come down every week, even in the pouring rain, our producers feel like family and the local shops now count us as one of them.
The market has also been a fabulous platform for many small local food business’ to launch so far there have been 13 successful launches: Hot food is supplied by Gunpowder Pie & mash; Margosa (Authentic Sri Lankan curry) and ATE (street food (sliders) served in thier vintage Citroen van). For those with a sweeter tooth, Demi Pastisser (Catalan sweets) Brett & Bailey (Best baker boys on the block) Artichoke Hearts NB (Delicately flavoured cakes, macaroons & original salads) Cookie & Biscuit (US style cookies and cakes). Gluten-free products are covered by Owl Kitchen (home-made fare from local coeliac Mel Whitlock)
So a year since its launch footfall is up month on month and the market continues to support many sustainable farms and local Crystal Palace business’. The market is hugely innovative and partner project ‘ Patchwork Farm
‘ provides an outlet for local produce, grower networking opportunities, with produce, plants and knowledge as currency. Each week the volunteer run stall sells,swaps gluts and produce from ‘Patchwork Farm’ & nearby allotments,back gardens and parks. On Mondays, Rachel de Thample
leads Patchwork Preserves which makes any Patchwork leftovers into preserves. Patchwork Bread is an initiative which aims to bring bread making skills into SE19, led by Colin Wilkie-Jones and Heaven Preserve Us
(a brand extension of Lover of Creating Flavours
) Potions, Preserves, Pickles and more led by Anita-Clare and Caroline Field.
The market continues to supports 14 small
organic/biodynamic farms and all profits are ploughed back into local growing initiatives in Crystal Palace. It maintains 5 community gardens -Edible Garden in Westow Park , Museum Garden in Crystal Palace Park,Tipsy Garden behind the Grape and Grain, The Permaculture Garden on Central Hill and one in St John’s churchyard. Volunteers meet regularly in the Edible Garden and St John’s. Patchwork Farm now receive produce from 42 growing spaces around Crystal Palace all of whom sell on the Patchwork Farm stall. We also grow in a number of gardens around SE19.
Education is also a key part of the market. Initiatives include “Food for Thought” posters, “Did you know?” newsletter facts and foraging forays, to Rachel De Thample’s weekly seasonal budget recipes
, we actively engage with the local community on food issues.The market uses its social media channels to raise awareness and coverage in the local press, blogs and magazines highlights the market’s values regularly.
The Heart Of The Market
The market also has stalls on a rotating basis
Market Supports local community initiatives including: Crystal Palace Transition Town; Mwah
(Intergenerational community group); Untapped Free School Campaign; Fairtrade Campaign/Stall; Crystal Palace Youth Orchestra; Rockmount School; Kingswood Primary; Elmwood School Choir; Crystal Palace Festival
; Master Gardeners Seed Sap; Library storytelling, Crystal Palace Scouts, Salvation Army and Upper Norwood Library
The market works closely with Steve Broe, who promotes musicians & buskers – numerous local and not so local musicians have played at the market over the year.Some even in a boat!
There are also a fabulous array of regular events for children so they are entertained whilst the grown-ups shop.
- Storytelling for kids (Fiona from Library/Brooke (West End Actress))
- Facepainting – The Aunties
- Yoga for kids
- Magic for kids
- Farm visits (visited Romshed Farm in April 2014 with 15 kids/15 adults – visit planned for June)
- Maypole dancing!
We have a lot to be proud of, our amazing market has something for everyone, its key messages are embroidered throughout the entire fabric of the market:
Crystal Palace Market is quite simply one of the best community based initiatives I have seen in my time here in our glorious town and we cannot wait to join the family officially next week. In the meantime, Crystal Palace I ask you to charge your glasses and drink to its increased success in everything it tries to achieve in the years to come. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CRYSTAL PALACE MARKET !