The Market Year - December
Welcome to the December edition of the Market Year.
'Chill December brings the sleet,
blazing fire and Christmas treat.'
It’s the depth of winter and the shortest day is approaching, but this is a celebratory food month. The market stalls are loaded with the best Sussex vegetables and fruit, meat, fish, inventive savouries and sweet things, so plan your shopping lists to make the most of our producers' offerings.
Traditional and original dishes are both great for sharing with friends, neighbours and family – and when it’s cold and dark, chopping and stirring in a fragrant, steamy kitchen simply can't be beaten!
Edward Uridge of Townings Farm
Photograph: Carlotta Luke
Townings Farm near Chailey has been home to three generations of Uridge farmers. The tenancy was taken on by Edward's grandparents in the late 50s; over the years they developed a dairy herd. Edward's father Kevin was born at the farm where he has worked all his life. Kevin and Carole took over running the farm in 1996 when Edward's grandparents retired.
Edward is an apprentice butcher and works in the farm shop and here on the market stall. His two brothers also play a part in the business, while one runs the website [from York] the other helps maintain the farm machinery. Everything happens in a small area and on a small scale - two local stockmen spend a day each on the farm; Matt, a young local butcher, is employed full-time in the farm shop butchery; the local abattoir is happy to work with farms sending in one or two beasts at a time.
The Uridges are lucky to have a successional tenancy as the land and its community only make sense in the long term. “Modern short-term business tenancies encourage the need for a quick profit,” says Carole. “This can result in farmers not taking as much care of the land, as it may not become their own children's legacy.”
Carol and Kevin re-invented the farm five years ago when dairy farming became unviable and they restocked with traditional breeds of cattle, sheep and pigs. Slow-grown turkeys are also reared for Christmas. Their Longhorn cattle and Hebridean sheep are able to take advantage of the conservation grazing on Chailey Common. These and the other stock animals grow slowly on the good grazing and the cereals which Kevin grows on the farm. The animals are born and raised on the farm, with the Oxford Sandy and Black pigs spending all theirs days outside - unlike their less fortunate counterparts on large farms who only have to spend four weeks outside to earn the title 'outdoor bred' or eight week for 'Outdoor Reared Pork'.
The family's style of husbandry is rooted in the question, “Do I want to eat this?” By raising the stock with respect and care they have created a less intensive system which contrasts starkly with the usual methods of meat raising. The Uridge family are passionate about the quality of their meat. They love farming in a beautiful part of Sussex, selling direct to customers and providing a stress-free life for their stock. “Provenance is important today. Our customers know exactly where and how their meat has been raised – it is safe and delicious.”
More of Carlotta Luke's photographs of Trownings Farm are here...
Take a trip out to the family's farm shop and have a walk along the surrounding footpaths to gain a better understanding of how the land and the people together create outstanding produce.
In Season Now
Red and white onions, leeks, red, white and green cabbages, Brussels sprouts, chard, kale, beetroot, carrots, squashes, potatoes, parsnips and pumpkins, swede and celeriac, jerusalem artichokes, salad leaves, chestnuts, apples and pears. Turkey, goose pork, pheasant, venison, sea bass, gurnard, hake, haddock, Dover sole, mussels, crab, lobster and oysters, brill, plaice, whiting and herring.
Seasonal Recipes by Polly Senter
Lewes Food Market is run by Lewes Local Community Interest Company. It was founded to give the people of Lewes, and visitors, a unique opportunity to buy locally sourced fresh food products direct from the producers on a weekly basis.
Details of all the Lewes Food Market traders here...
See www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for help with wasting less food.
See www.makinglocalfoodwork.co.uk for exciting food news.
Buying local and eating food in season supports and encourages our local food producers, which in turn makes us less dependent on importing most of our food - an insecure business these days with rising fuel costs, climate change affecting crops, and regular international conflicts.
Lewes Food Market is run by Lewes Local Community Interest Company. The Market Year is funded and supported by the Lewes Pound www.thelewespound.org