On Thursday 1 March, the award winning Comber Farmers’ Market will celebrate World Book Day 2018 by encouraging visitors to bring along a cook book that is gathering dust on the shelf and swap it for something different.
Out with the old and in with the new as Comber Farmers’ Market will have a ‘Cook Book Swap’ stall on which you can do exactly that!
Visitors will also be able to stock up on goodies for the special lady in their life, with Mother’s Day approaching on Sunday 11 March.
Comber has been named ‘The Home of Great Taste’, and the market continues to play a part in putting the town firmly on the foodie map.
Every first Thursday of the month, Comber Farmers’ Market hosts around 25 artisan traders with locally grown and produced items including meat and fish, fresh bread, eggs, milk, jams and chutneys, chocolate, plants, fruit and veg, baked goods, cheese and so much more.
Alderman Deborah Girvan who helps to run the market on behalf of Comber Regeneration Community Partnership said, “I enjoy cooking but I still prefer to use my trusted cookery books rather than look up recipes online. My favourite cookery writers are Delia Smyth and Mary Berry. I will be bringing along a few of my less used cookery books and will swap them for a couple of ‘new’ cookery books. “
The market can be found in St Mary’s Parish Church car park beside Comber Square and is open from 9.00am -1.00pm. Apart from the main car park in Comber, parking is also available nearby at Parkway off Killinchy Street and 1st Comber Presbyterian on High Street.
Entries for the The Comber Cake Off, a cake decorating competition which will be held at Comber Farmers’ Market on Thursday 2 November, has been extended until Wednesday 1 November. If you would like to enter, download the entry form here and email to firstname.lastname@example.org
There are two competitions:
- Adult Competition – a decorated cake of your choice which can be any size and for any occasion which will be judged on creativity, taste and skill
- Children’s Competition (11 and Under) – three decorated digestive biscuits on a plate which will be judged on creativity.
We are delighted that Joris Minne, Belfast Telegraph food critic, has agreed to be one of our judges. He will be joined by Audrey Davison and Heather Rutherford, local people who are experienced cake bakers.
So get those baking utensils out and bake a cake for the Comber Cake Off! You never know, you might win one of our lovely prizes………….
It’s Showstopper Time at Comber Farmers’ Market! Inspired by the popular Great British Bake Off TV programme, a cake decorating competition will take place on Thursday 2 November at Comber Farmers’ Market, St Mary’s Parish Church Car Park, the Square, Comber, 9.00am -1.00pm. Amateur bakers are invited to bake a cake of their choice which can be of any size and for any occasion. Cakes will be judged on creativity, taste and skill. As most schools are off for Halloween, there will also be a children’s competition for 11 years of age and under. Budding bakers are invited to enter three decorated digestive biscuits on a plate. Entry forms can be picked up from Comber Library and local shops or downloaded here. Entry forms must be returned to Comber Library or emailed to email@example.com by Friday 27 October at 4.00pm.
Alderman Deborah Girvan who is organising the Comber Cake Off said, “We have some brilliant local bakers in our area and this is an opportunity to show off their skills. We have some lovely prizes to give away including afternoon tea for two at the Coatmaker’s Cafe kindly donated by Winnie Magee from the Lightning Tree, baking ingredients and baking utensils, plus each prize winner will be given half a dozen fresh eggs from Springmount Farm. Entries for both competitions should be brought to the Comber Cake Off gazebo at the market on 2 November before 10.00am. Judging will take place at 12.00pm and winners announced at 12.30pm after which competitors can take their cakes home. We are delighted that Joris Minne, Belfast Telegraph Food critic will be joining local judges Audrey Davison and Heather Rutherford. If people don’t want to enter a cake, I would encourage them to come along to the award winning artisan food market to not only see the cakes but also to support the 26 local traders who sell a fabulous range of produce and plants.”
30 Good Reasons to Visit Comber Farmers’ Market
There are more reasons to visit Comber Farmers’ Market than ever before, with the monthly award winning artisan market going from strength to strength.
With the finest quality produce available to try and buy, those attending are spoilt for choice with a delicious variety of dairy, baked goods, meat and fish, plants and flowers, jams and chutneys, charcuterie, fruit and veg and much more.
This month the market has been running an online campaign highlighting 30 good reasons to attend the event including:
- Award winning fresh produce from Northern Ireland every month
- It is a great place to catch up with friends and meet new people
- Comber Farmers’ Market was recently awarded the Best NI Local Market
- Visitors are warmly welcomed by each and every trader who love to talk about and let customers sample their produce
June is a big month for the town as the Comber Earlies come into season, celebrated at the Comber Earlies Food Festival on 17th June. Along with Comber Farmers’ Market this fantastic event places the town firmly as ‘The Home of Great Taste’.
Held in St Marys Church car park of Comber Square the first Thursday of every month from 9am to 1.30pm, Comber Farmers’ Market is well worth a visit.
Car parking is available in nearby public car parks, at Parkway on Killinchy Street and the car park of 1st Comber Presbyterian on High Street.
Find out more about the popular monthly food event on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
On Thursday 6 April, Comber Farmers’ Market will be celebrating Spring by welcoming ‘Alice in Comberland’ to the town and planning all other sorts of curious goings on!
Comber has a lot to offer for the discerning explorer, especially the recently awarded Best NI Local Market.
The award winning artisan food event will have everything needed for the perfect Easter feast and tasty treats as gifts for friends and family over the holidays.
Traders at the market will have the very finest array of meats, fruit and vegetables, jams and chutneys, home baked goods and breads, cheeses, speciality teas, sauces and syrups, seasonal plants, chocolate, sticky toffee puddings, free range eggs, granola, raw Jersey milk and more – all produced in Northern Ireland.
Comber Farmers’ Market organiser and Mayor of Ards and North Down, Alderman Deborah Girvan is thrilled that the market continues to grow in popularity with more and more visitors attending every month.
“As word spreads about the quality local produce available every month at Comber Farmers’ Market, we are finding a significant increase in visitor numbers to our award winning event. It is a testament to the hard work that volunteers from the community put in to making the market happen, that it is becoming such a popular attraction, bringing people from far and wide to the town of Comber.”
Comber Farmers’ Market is held on the first Thursday of every month in the car park at St Marys Church in Comber Square from 9am to 1.30pm. Car parking can be found at Parkway on Killinchy Street or in 1st Comber Presbyterian car park on High Street.
Forthill Farm derives its name from an old Ring Fort on the farm and has been farmed by the Gracey family since the early 1700 and before.
Forthill has always been a mixed traditional farm. From an early age my love of animals was evident milking cows, feeding the animals both before and after school indeed on many occasions staying of school to work on the farm as my father was on the road most of the time (a cattle dealer).
Fast forward to 1992 when I met and married Jennifer and we continued farming. Although Jenny was a city girl she soon adapted to the country way of life helping in daily duties. We both had a love for rare breeds and so a few were kept alongside their modern breeds and started their journey to diversify.
Saddĺeback pigs were a big favourite producing succulent pork with a generous covering of fat. The dry cured bacon is as many customers say is proper bacon like it used to be. The sows kept mainly outdoors naturally.
Belted Galloway and Longhorn cattle are the two cattle breeds kept very suitable for their ability to produce beef from grass as no concentrates or fertilizers are used.
Forthill farm shop opened in 2008 such was the demand for their produce and a full time butcher was employed.
Forthill farm attend farmers’ markets. shows and festivals and are at Comber Farmers’ Market every month where we have a built up a great following with our customers.
Most local producers follow in the footsteps of their family legacy with farms and skills being passed from generation to generation.
Elaine from ‘Ken’s Fresh Jersey Milk’ talks about the Hanna family farm….
“The Hanna family has been involved in farming for approximately 100 years. We do remember a few cows being milked by hand and it being churned to produce butter and buttermilk which was sold to friends and neighbours.
A few years ago, an interest in Jersey cows developed and so the herd grew. Realising the high quality of milk that is produced, we were encouraged to take steps towards selling it fresh from the farm.
Procedures had to be put in place with monthly testing’s taken, to ensure that safety of the milk for direct sale was achieved and therefore passed by Food Standard Agency.
We have had good family support especially from our Grandson Daniel who comes across to the farm each day to feed his little calves, move the fencer for Papa and other daily activities.
We have been enjoying meeting new customers at Comber Market each month and some now come direct to the farm for their milk.”
Ann Fitzsimmons from The Uncommon Garden Company is the Comber Farmers’ Market Producer of the Month of October.
Ann tells us about The Uncommon Garden Company roots and her passion for plants.
When did you start your business?
I started the business in 2007, after finishing an HND in Horticulture at Greenmount College.
This was a total career change, having been a medical rep for 20 years, I had become disillusioned with big business and wanted something more creative.
What drove you to become a local producer?
A love of gardens and a fascination for plants drove me to become a horticulturist specialising in unusual and interesting herbaceous perennials.
Tell us a little about your working day?
In summer my day usually starts with watering! Early in the year I will be sowing seeds, later in the year propagation is more cuttings. Always there are plants to pot up, feed and weed. We are in the middle of the countryside, in a beautiful part of Co Down so nothing is much hardship. In the evenings, especially coming near plant shows or markets I have labels to make, explaining a little about the plants and how best to grow. My customers always like as much information as possible.
As autumn approaches my mind turns to planting bulbs in what I call my lasagne pots, layers of bulbs giving either a succession of lovely flowers over some months or giving a bouquet effect for a shorter length of time. These pretty pots make lovely Christmas presents. Even in the depth of winter I am pouring over the seed catalogues to find interesting and new plants to grow.
What is your personal favourite product that you grow?
My favourite product varies with the season. Currently I am in love with the feathery ornamental grasses and a particular Persicaria called JS Calient, which sports intense pinkish red flowers over red tinged bright green foliage. Just scrumptious!
‘Krazi Baker’ Mark Douglas
September is ‘Bread & Baking’ Month in the NI Year of Food and Drink 2016 so Comber Farmers’ Market are celebrating by featuring the Krazi Baker as our producer of the month.
Owner Mark Douglas tells us a bit about his business.
When did you start your business?
I started 3 years ago but I am only full time 18 months.
What drove you to become a local producer?
My driving force to do what I am doing came from a simple thought of wanting to bake on site.
This was fuelled by seeing the skill within the home baking trade being diminished by the onset of the premix where no skill was needed to bake a range of pastries and cakes and now even into bread. I felt strongly that I had a skill that was being devalued along with the traditional methods that had been passed down through generations.
Tell us a little about your working day?
My typical working day to go to Comber market will actually start the day before.
I have to load the van with gas, flour and make sure I have all my equipment onboard.
On a market day I will be up from 5am doing last minute stocking, filling iceboxes and hot water for the sink. Picking George up a 6am we arrive in Comber around 6.30am, set the marquee up taking about 30 mins then light the hotplate which is ready for baking around 7.15.
The first customers arrive for 9am then bake right through to 12.30pm. The market ends at 1pm then pack up time leaving Comber at 2.30pm home for after 3.00pm.
Unload the van and time to wash up which takes around an hour.
What is your personal favourite product that you make?
My favourite product would be potato bread I love it toasted or cold but especially love it with scrambled eggs. It always reminds me of home when mum baked 3 days a week for a family of 8. The smell of potato bread and soda bread just has an attachment to home for me and for so many people in N.Ireland and tells us why they are a massive part of our food heritage.
This has been a massive physical and mental challenge to get this far even as a one man show. To start out with a simple idea then the next biggest challenge was where do I do this baking on site?
Being refused entry to markets and shows in the beginning I have persevered and have since won 4 Great Taste Awards and best Stand in the FoodNI pavilion at this year’s Balmoral Show.
I have also started a small baking school at home taking up to 7 people teaching the skill of Artisan hotplate baking and much more.