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Scotland’s First Farmers’ Market Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Perth Farmers’ Market – which was the first farmers’ market to be established in Scotland – is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Perthshire livestock farmer Jim Fairlie was behind the trailblazing development of Perth Farmers’ Market. After getting the Perth market up and running, he travelled around Scotland and supported other producers interested in establishing similar initiatives around the country. 

Mr Fairlie, who now runs his own retail business selling Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI as well as an outdoor event catering business, The Kitchen Farmer, was among the very first producers who gathered back in April 1999 to set up the first farmers’ market - 12 stalls in King Edward Street in Perth City Centre.

Over the years the market has grown from strength to strength and two decades on, there are now around 50 stalls showcasing quality local produce on the first Saturday of every month in Perth’s city centre.

Jim Fairlie said his early idea was to offer an opportunity for farmers to sell direct to consumers as an alternative to selling only through the major multiple retailers.

“The inspiration came on a visit to France,” said Mr Fairlie. “Food is a huge part of French culture and it was clear that farmers' markets were thriving there as a result of French consumers’ desire for top quality local food that they know and trust.”

What he had seen in France inspired Mr Fairlie to set up Perth Farmers' Market with the aim of creating a market platform allowing Scottish farmers to rekindle that important direct relationship with consumers which he felt had been missing for more than fifty years.

“Farmers’ markets offer a two-way benefit –  producers can meet and get a valuable understanding of what their consumers want and forge a close relationship with them, and consumers can get to know and trust the people who produce the food they buy.”

A further benefit, which Mr Fairlie says is very rewarding to see, is the opportunity for collaboration which can emerge as a result of local producers with a shared interest in producing top quality food and drink getting together.

“When farmers and other producers get together to share ideas, the results can be excellent. This kind of collaboration will be vital for the industry going forward if Scotland Food & Drink’s Ambition 2030 targets are to be achieved post-Brexit,” he added. 

Adeline Watson, Perth Farmers’ Market Manager, said plans are afoot to celebrate the anniversary with an event at Perth College and a particular focus on the market on June 1st.

“The market really has gone from strength to strength and it is incredibly rewarding to see loyal, regular stallholders attending at the start of every month and to welcome new local food and drink producers. A great number of the customers who visit the market regularly have been with us since the beginning,” she said.

“We now have a huge range of food and drink producers taking stalls at our markets which are held in Perth city centre on the first Saturday of every month. These range from cheese and artisan bread to cider, wine and local beef, lamb and pork.”

For more information about Perth Farmers’ Market visit: www.perthfarmersmarket.co.uk