There is a resurgence of interest in Country Markets Ltd, the co-operative group of 60 local food and craft markets that take place weekly right across the country. The organisation was set up in the 1940’s to allow the sale of crafts and surplus food directly to the consumer and generate additional income for farm families.
“Our markets are thriving and we are currently receiving applications every day from people who wish to become members and sell their produce at our markets and also from people who want to set up new markets at different locations around the country”, said Margaret Sweeney, chairman of Country Markets Limited. “In just June alone, 21 new members have started to sell their produce in their own locality at our markets and we received 6 requests to open new markets. Our organisation today is a vindication of the women who set up Country Markets 64 years ago and their husbands and partners who helped in so many ways. The focus then was on creating new local enterprise and generating additional income for families by selling high quality home produced food and crafts directly to the consumer. We stuck to our core principles, lived through the boom and here we are again acting as a catalyst for allowing local entrepreneurship to flourish in the most sustainable way”.
Country Markets Limited is a co-operative group of 62 local food and craft markets that take place weekly right across the country. Members are registered local producers who produce under strict regulations and standards. They are local artisan bakers and farm families selling their own home grown and handmade food and crafts directly to the consumer. The markets have a long established heritage and tradition and play an increasingly important role in their local communities. Each member market uses the distinctive Country Markets logo on its signage to differentiate it from other markets. Products available include freshly baked breads, scones, cakes and tarts. Savoury dishes from pies and quiches to lasagnes and other ready-made meals, a wide range of jams, marmalades, honey and seasonal preserves and craft items. Fresh seasonal produce is available at all the markets and includes freshly picked salads, herbs, vegetables, fruits, eggs and flowers grown locally by families who take great pride in bringing their produce to local consumers in their own community.
Most of the markets include members from families who are proudly producing for Country Markets for generations. Many of the grand-parents of today’s producers sold their surplus vegetables, fruits, eggs and butter to generate additional farm family income. Today’s producers often keep local traditions alive using traditional family methods and recipes.
The rich heritage of traditional crafts on offer includes knitwear, delicate crochet, pottery, woodturning, stonework, baskets and jewellery. Some of the markets also sell art and photography. Many of the members have been preserving and reviving traditional skills that would have been lost without the support and enthusiasm of Country Markets.
Many markets serve teas, coffees and a range of the fresh home baked goodies such as tea cakes, scones and pastries. This serves as a great social hub for the local community and is a distinctive part of the market.
Country Markets was established in 1947 by Dr Muriel Gahan. She wanted to create an initiative to allow farm families to sell the wonderful crafts and food that was being produced in rural Ireland directly to the consumer. The initial outlet was the Country Shop in St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin. This was highly successful and in conjunction with the ICA and Irish Homespun Society, Country Markets Limited was founded with markets opening up around the country. The aim of the organisation was to supplement farm family income. The first branch market was set up in Fethard, Co. Tipperary in 1947 and it along with 35 other markets established between 1946 and 1974 are vibrantly trading today. Those markets along with more recent additions play a strong role in developing and maintaining community spirit, fostering local food and crafts entrepreneurship and developing local economic activity.
For further information visit www.countrymarkets.ie or on Facebook.