ONE of the region’s top organic farmers cannot get a stall on a farmers’ market in Newcastle – because there are too many people selling meat.
Colin and Michelle Anderson, who run Kielder Organic Meats at Dunterley Farm, Bellingham, Northumberland, have been farming for nearly 20 years but moved into organic production five years ago.
Since then they have featured in an episode of Gary Rhodes’s Local Food Heroes, where they battled it out with the other five nominees to be named the North-East’s top meat producer.
The family also received a royal visit last November, when Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall had a tour of their farm.
But when the couple applied to sell their produce at the monthly Newcastle farmers’ market, they were told that no pitches were available.
Mrs Anderson said: “My husband and I have been farming for more than 20 years, but we only set up Kielder Organic Meats some 15 months ago.
“Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength.
“But getting our produce out to the public who demand it has been difficult at times.
“We have a shop at the farm, and we trade on Tuesdays and Saturdays in Hexham on a patch owned by Tynedale Council, but we also wanted to be able to sell our meat at the various specialist farmers’ markets that take place across the North-East.”
The family – who breed cattle, sheep and pigs on their 1,600-acre land – began organic farming five years ago and say this is another reason why there should be space made available for them in Newcastle.
Mrs Anderson said: “Organic food is in high demand.
“People are screaming out for it, so you’d think securing a pitch at a market for local goods would be pretty simple.
“I know there are quite a few meat sellers at the market in Newcastle, but only one of them offers organic produce. He regularly runs out because demand is so high, so there’s surely room for another seller.”
A Newcastle City Council spokesman said: “We have a responsibility to provide a variety of choice at the farmers’ market and already have seven or eight meat producers among the 24 stalls. Therefore, our customers are very well catered for.
“We have regular, loyal traders who have built up a loyal following and comply fully with our farmers’ market regulations.
“We are currently oversubscribed, but there is an opportunity to apply for a place every six months.”
The Newcastle farmers’ markets take place on the first Friday of each month, with a range of stalls representing the local agricultural industry.