By Ann Link, TTL

Lewes Friday Food MarketLewes Friday Food Market will be ten years old in July this year, so to many people it has always been there. But things were very different in 2009, when the Transition Town Food Group was given the opportunity to set up a weekly market under the Market Tower in central Lewes. Historically, there had been a market, most recently run by the Women’s Institute, but this had closed some years before, and prior to that there was a huge street market covering much of the top of the town.

But in 2009 there was just a windy cut-through to the public loos, and some unused rooms. I was involved with the setting up, and have been a strong supporter ever since.

Lewes Friday Food MarketI love being able to get very fresh vegetables that have often been cut or dug up the day before, or even that very morning. And they come from a few miles away, in Plumpton, Cuckfield or Isfield. I think of them growing in some idyllic bit of countryside, which they do. Most vegetables and fruit are very reasonably priced. You learn what is in season, with some revelations like local peppers and aubergines in November if not December. Local squashes are a feast throughout autumn and winter.

The eggs and meat are equally local, with some of the fish caught off Newhaven and the cheese often from nearby too. Fruit comes from Cuckfield or Herstmonceaux. Other more processed foods like bread and pastries, including vegan products, are made nearby, supporting small and new local businesses.

Lewes Friday Food MarketWhen the weather is horrible and I don’t want to get up and out, I feel I must because someone else rose at 6am or even earlier and set up their stall at 8.30am in the chilly market, which was designed to be cold in a time long before refrigerators.

We need to prepare for a low carbon future by developing alternatives such as renewable energy, and by building local resilience. Now, when climate change action has become far more urgent and more widely supported, and societal breakdown more likely, the market’s local food network is even more necessary. By supporting it, we are maintaining and developing local supply chains and connections that we will need more in an uncertain future.

Most of this also applies to the Farmers’ Market in Cliffe Precinct, which is now fortnightly, and to local independent shops. But ten years ago this year the Friday Food Market made it possible to shop for fresh local produce every week in Lewes, and we will rightly be celebrating its birthday in July.

Lewes Friday Food Market