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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Three farmers' markets in Northumberland have benefited from more than £100,000 of funding to help people eat more local food. The money will help to set up North East of England Farmers' Markets (NEEFM).

Bringing together farmers markets operated by local authorities, producer groups, private businesses, community groups and social enterprises, NEEFM is the first Farmers' Market operators collaboration of this kind in the UK. Northumberland markets in Alnwick, Morpeth and Ponteland will be joined by those in Darlington, Durham, Hartlepool and Newcastle.

Together they have received £97,984 from the Big Lottery Fund's Local Food Scheme along with £8,747.89 from the North East England Investment Centre.

This will help over the next three years to encourage them to work together to promote farmers markets in the North East.

The directors of NEEFM, Nic Best of Morpeth, Hazel Coppack of Barnard Castle, Alastair Davy of Northern Dales, Kathryn Potts of Alnwick, Julie Sloan of Hadrian's Wall, Peter Wilson of Darlington, have been working together for the last eighteen months to secure this funding.

Chairman Nic Best said: "We are delighted to receive this funding, because it means we can ensure that our aims become action.

"NEEFM is very much a practical resource and this funding will be used to champion farmers markets across the whole of the North East. We want to give them a stronger voice to actively promote their benefits and encourage consumers across the region to buy, eat and cook with food from their local Farmers' Market."

The overall aims of NEEFM are to raise consumer awareness and demand for local food and drink; increase the range of produce available; promote co-operation between farmers markets throughout the North East; develop a sustainable future for farmers' markets; educate the general public on the benefits of healthy eating and provide a voice for farmers markets in the region.

It has been estimated that every £10 spent with a local food business is actually worth £25 to the local area, compared with only £14 if spent in a supermarket.

They also regenerate the towns where they are held by increasing footfall on market day and encouraging tourists to try a region's specialities.

All the first seven NEEFM markets are members of the national Farmers' Retail and Markets Association (FARMA) or are working towards this certification which acts as a recognised guarantee of quality.

Anyone wishing to find out the location of their nearest farmers market should visit

Farmers' markets wishing to find out more about becoming a NEEFM member should contact Kathryn Potts on (01665) 576148.

Source: Journal Live