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Monday 22 October 2012

Llanyrafon Market

Llanyrafon Manor is taking a step closer to becoming a Food Hub with the first of its regular Food and Craft Markets this Sunday.

The refurbishment of the listed building was financed through the Rural Development Fund and it is this close link with boosting the local economy that drives the Market. The producers will all be from the Torfaen area and it is encouraging to see 15 lined up for the inaugural event. The emphasis is on food though local crafters will also have a significant presence.

The Market is planned to run on the last Sunday of each month with some being designated special Seasonal Markets. Though Torfaen has a number of very good producers there has, as yet, been no central showcase for them, Llanyrafon Manor provides that focus and the Torfaen County Borough Council Crea te Team has been working hard to get the Market off the ground.

In its few months of being open to the public the Manor has become a focus and is attracting large numbers of visitors - encouraged by the Special Events held on a regular basis and the Raspberry Tea Rooms which serve a menu based as far as possible on local ingredients.

  But back to the Market. As a showcase for Torfaen the emphasis on local product is high and the decision to give priority to Torfaen based producers will ensure that this will be achieved. It is also recognised that the standard definition of “Local” food is within 30 miles radius so producers in both Cardiff and Brecon would be eligible to attend if the strictly local allocation of places is not fully utilised.

Another key issue is the limit on producers of the same product. There will not be 5 stalls each with a very similar range so a diverse Market is ensured.

One of the good things about Llanyrafon Market is the close working of community groups, for example the Co-Star partnership will have cakes and soups on sale. Some of the ingredients will have come from the Growers group which is encouraging gardening in Torfaen. Similarly Raspberry Catering will be using salad ingredients grown at the Manor in the tea room which will be open throughout the event. It is the co-operation that excites me.
With a need to encourage better eating and a reduction in food miles and greenhouse gasses local groups working together to supply good local foods has to be a way forward.

Now I have to declare an interest at this point. I have an ambition to open a Community Bakery as a Social Enterprise and one of the out buildings at Llanyrafon Manor would be a great base.

There is a real upsurge in interest in good bread as evidenced by the Real Bread Campaign and the popularity of the bread episode of the Great British Bake Off. But people are often afraid of bread seeing it as highly technical and time consuming. One aim of a Community Bakery would be to offer classes and show that not only is it perfectly manageable, but with only Flour, Salt Water and Yeast you can make a better loaf than those sold commercially with up to 27 ingredients!

Thanks to co-operation with Julie from Raspberry Catering I shall be selling bread at the Market and seeing how many people would like to be able to obtain Real Bread locally and how many would like to learn more about the craft. Come along and see Julie and I on our little stall.

Anyway enough about Bread. Other products will include Cheese, Meats (2 suppliers with different products), Fruit and Veg, Pasties of all varieties, Chili Jams and Chutneys, Beers and Ales, and on the sweeter side of life Cakes, Bara Brith, Brownies, traditional Candies and Snow Cones. On the craft stalls a range of handmade product will be available including Jewellery, Art Work, Cards as well as Bags, Candles and more besides.

As a first Market it is bound to be a little experimental but the range of producers and makers is good, the setting superb and the prospect exciting.

If you live in the area or are looking for a day out with a difference Llanyrafon Manor is the place to be between 10 and 2 on Sunday

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