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30 Good Reasons to Visit Comber Farmers’ Market

 

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.

 

 

There’s Something ‘Curious’ Going on at Comber Farmers’ Market this April….

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.

CFM Producer of the Month – Kenny Gracey from Forthill Farm, Tandragee

Kenny Forthill

Kenny Forthill

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.

NI Year of Food and Drink 2016 – Learning and Legacy Month – November

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.”

Producer of the Month – Ann Fitzsimmons, The Uncommon Garden Company

Ann Fitzsimmons

Ann Fitzsimmons

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!

Producer of the Month – ‘Krazi Baker’ Mark Douglas

‘Krazi Baker’ Mark Douglas

‘Krazi Baker’ Mark Douglas

‘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.

Mark adds:

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.

Producer of the Month for August 2016 Jennifer Busby from Farmhouse Treats

Farmhouse Treats

Farmhouse Treats

When did you start your business?
Mum has been baking buns and cakes for friends and family for years, and when I became a mum myself, I too took on the baking bug and about three years ago we decided to start the business.
 
What drove you to become a local producer?
We have always been doing our bit of home baking, but we were becoming increasingly frustrated with the quality of so called ‘home baking’ on sale in most shops. Due to mass production a lot of the bakery products had become bland and full of artificial flavours and preservatives. We felt that good home baking was going to become a thing of the past if these large commercial bakeries took over, so we decided we wanted to sell our little bit of traditional home baking, just like granny used to make!
 
Tell us a little about your working day?
We are a mother and daughter team and most days are spent in the bakery. We have a small home bakery based on our farm just outside Moneyreagh which is open Friday and Saturday morning from 9am – 12noon every week. We spend the week re stocking with traybakes and biscuits as well as keeping the freezer stocked with our wide range of desserts.
We also supply Woodlawn garden centre with our delicious desserts which are delivered fresh throughout the week.  We have weekly orders as well for celebration cakes and cupcakes. We are currently expanding the outside catering side of our business, and we can provide sweet and savoury food for any occasion.
 
What is your personal favourite product that you make?
We were delighted to have received a Great Taste Award last year for our butter shortbread which we love, however Almond slices would be my personal favourite and mum loves a slice of apple tart.

At Farm House Treats we strive to keep our products as fresh as possible. We want our products to not only look good, but to taste great too.  Everything is prepared in small batches and we are using traditional recipes passed from generation to generation.

We are delighted with the business we do on a monthly basis at Comber Market and we now have a regular customer base who return each month to stock up on our treats. The market is a credit to its organisers and we look forward to trading here for many years to come!

Farmhouse Treats can be found at Comber Farmers’ Market the first Thursday of every month.

Comber Farmers’ Market Celebrates 2nd Birthday

Comber Regeneration Community Partnership, the organisation that runs the successful artisan food and plant  market in Comber, is celebrating the 2nd birthday of Comber Farmers’ Market on Thursday 7 July, St Mary’s Parish Church, the Square, Comber, from 9.00am – 1.30pm. 

In addition to our regular food and plant stalls,  we welcome the Hanna family who have a milking herd of Jersey cows on their farm on the Hillsborough Road outside Carryduff. They will be selling their certified and registered creamy, raw milk which is packed full of goodness and health benefits. 

There will also be free activities for children, a free hamper draw, and birthday cake for some lucky customers (while stocks last). So come along and celebrate this significant milestone in the life cycle of our popular market which is helping to regenerate Comber and support our local food producers who are selling their top quality products at fair market prices.

2ndbirthday

Comber Food Tour Takes Off

Newtownards entrepreneur, Mike Thompson, with his Young Buck Blue Cheeses, who will be giving a cheese demonstration during the upcoming Comber Food Tour on Thursday 5 May 2016

Newtownards entrepreneur, Mike Thompson, with his Young Buck Blue Cheeses, who will be giving a cheese demonstration during the upcoming Comber Food Tour on Thursday 5 May 2016

Comber Farmers’ Market has teamed up with NI Food Tours to bring people to Comber to sample and taste a variety of different foods which are available in and around the town on Thursday 5 May 2016. The coach tour will leave Ards Visitor Information Centre, 31 Regent Street, Newtownards at 10.00am, travel to Comber to visit Comber Farmer’s Market followed by morning tea or coffee, home baked scones and cakes in St Mary’s Church Hall. After a brief walk across the Square to Indie Fude Deli, guests will be treated to a cheese demonstration by Michael Thompson who makes his Young Buck hand crafted blue cheeses in Newtownards. The group will then be picked up by the coach again and taken to The Old Schoolhouse Inn on the Ballydrain Road where award winning chef Will Brown will be cooking them a gourmet two course lunch before returning to Newtownards for 3.00pm.

Comber Food Tour Programme

  • 10.00am      Coach pick up from Ards Visitor Information Centre
  • 10.20am       Tour of Comber Farmers’ Market
  • 11.00am       Tea and home baked scones and cake
  • 12.00pm       Young Buck Cheese Demonstration
  • 1.00pm        Lunch in The Old Schoolhouse Inn
  • 3.00pm       Arrive back at Ards Visitor Information Centre

The tour costs £30 per person and includes the coach, morning tea or coffee and cake, food samples, lunch and the services of an experienced tour guide. Book your tickets through Ards Visitor Information Centre by dropping in to 31 Regent Street, Newtownards, or call them on 9182 6846 and use your debit or credit card or book online by visiting https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/ardsandnorthdown

Next Market


Thursday 2 November 2017
St Mary's Parish Church Car Park
The Square, Comber, Co Down
9.00am – 1.00pm

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