News. Fresh produce at the monthly food market

17th of July, 2018

Held on the third Sunday of each month, the Dumfries House food market plays host to local food suppliers selling an assortment of tasty produce from rare-breed meats and fresh fruit and vegetables to handmade chutneys and jams. The market features produce that has been sourced from within a 60-mile radius, which ensures the food is genuinely fresh and local.

Fruit and vegetable purveyors Rhone Cottage grow garden-fresh produce and sell goods from other small-scale producers based in Ayrshire, and are regular attendees of Dumfries House food market. We talk to owner Sheila Anderson about what makes Rhone Cottage a pioneer of locally sourced produce and the seasonal crops available at the market over the summer period.

How was Rhone Cottage founded?

We set up the business in 2016 selling a few fresh salads and herbs grown from the garden, then we expanded to finding and selling other fresh Ayrshire vegetables from local growers. We wanted to give people in Ayrshire a chance to taste seasonal, locally grown fruit and vegetables. We also like to grow slightly more unusual vegetables that aren't viable for other commercial growers and love introducing them to our customers at the market.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Dumfries House food market?

All the food there is grown or produced no further than 60 miles away and that is what we are all about.

What sort of fruit and vegetables are in season throughout the summer?

Early summer sees rhubarb as the first fruit, closely followed by strawberries, gooseberries and raspberries. Red and blackcurrants are ready later in the summer. There is not so much choice in early summer as the last of the winter vegetables are finishing and the summer veg is just starting but there are lots of salad vegetables available including Swiss chard, kale, parsley, radishes and spring onions, lots of leafy greens and of course the famous Ayrshire new potatoes. Now we are seeing small turnips, baby carrots, broccoli, cabbages, courgettes, broad beans, French beans and peas. Garlic and overwintering onions will be ready shortly, followed by runner beans and leeks. A good variety of vegetables can be grown here in Ayrshire.

What tasty dishes can people make with these fruits and vegetables?

There are a wide range of dishes you can make with seasonal summer vegetables but we tend to eat them in salads or lightly stir fry.

You don't use any chemicals on your produce. Why is this important?

We want to eat only fresh natural produce – we don't yet know the effect of eating chemical substances and we also don't want to harm the bees and other wildlife as we need them to pollinate our plants. We hand-pick caterpillars, slugs and other creatures that shouldn't be on the vegetables and spray with garlic, comfrey and seaweed extract to discourage the pests and help the plants to withstand an attack. Our vegetables may not be not perfect but they are still tasty.

Why is important that people buy local produce?

It’s popular now to ‘buy locally’ but it makes sense to buy what is close to you for freshness, less travelling, the quality of the produce and the fact that you’re supporting local businesses around you.