23 July 2012

To need a market

The last post about Manchester's fish market turned Crafts market got me thinking, rather intensely about local food, markets, and the things a market can do for a city and its citizens.

One thing about Manchester I just can't get comfortable with is the lack of proper farmers' markets. On the weekends, I love wandering about a market, meeting people who grow vegetables and fruit, who make cheeses and jams, and being able to buy food that is locally made and locally sourced. I like my money to support local food producers.

Manchester's city centre just really doesn't have anything like this. Once a fortnight, there is a "real food market" in Piccadilly Gardens, but the one fruit & veg stall there just sells the same shipped-from-South-Africa produce that every other supermarket sells. Loads of stalls sell cupcakes and burgers, but I can't find a Cheshire-grown head of broccoli.

I can subscribe to a local fruit & veg box scheme, and I did for my first year in Manchester. But when you're cooking only for yourself, a box that sometimes has 0 cabbage and 9 leeks in it can be overwhelming. I still need the cabbage, and I want a nice city-centre market, where I can buy locally grown cabbage. There is a market in Bury. There is an organic co-op in Chorlton. But these places require a tram ride.

It's a shame, especially when you look at smaller towns like Belfast, Norwich or Newcastle. They manage enormous markets, right in the centre of town, which really bring a lovely atmosphere to the city on the weekends. You wander down, with an empty shopping bag. You buy a coffee, bump into friends, get your shop done.

In this way, Manchester just feels incomplete.

A city, it seems to me, really needs a good market.


  1. I'm with you on this. One of the things I love about Kirkgate Market in Leeds is the availability of local produce. Their farmers' market is superb.

  2. Thanks, Adam! I've not yet had reason to visit Leeds, but now I know about the market, I might just pop by!

  3. The Leeds market is really good, and Manchester's lack of market has been a bugbear of mine ever since I moved up here

  4. Every time I visit a continental market, a small part of me dies... they're so amazing in comparison to what we have in the UK.

    The Mercado do Bolhão in Porto is incredible: http://cidadesurpreendente.blogspot.co.uk/2005/08/no-mercado-do-bolho.html

    I bought half a kilo of local cherries for €1 from a kind old lady in a tabard and wandered through the market for an hour. *Sigh*