Open air markets all the rage this autumn

Shopping ain’t what it used to be. What used to be a carefree and enjoyable experience (well, sometimes) is now no longer something you’d really do for pleasure – except that is, if it’s out in the open air.

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market; photograph by Frank Noon

Chiswick Flower Market

London’s markets are coming into their own. Chiswick Flower Market – the first new flower and plant market to open in London for 150 years – had slightly more than seven thousand visitors on its opening day in September.

I’m sure it helped that we had a double page spread in the FT about it that weekend, an article in the Evening Standard and it was written up as by Time Out as the no. 1 thing to do in London in September, but the response to the idea of enjoyable outside shopping, for everything from bulbs, bouquets and bedding plants to exotic indoor plants and hop bines, was phenomenal. Most of the stall holders had sold out of stock by the end and existing Chiswick businesses nearby also did very well from the visitors attracted to the market, with many reporting double their normal Sunday turnover.

The organisers have regrettably decided to given the next one, planned for Sunday 4 October, a miss because of the Covid situation, but at time of writing Chiswick Flower Market is planning to return on Sunday 1 November with an online booking system in place so people can book timed slots to visit the November market and the Christmas one on Sunday 6 December. They are also planning an early slot for ‘tender perennials’ – older and more vulnerable flower lovers. For updates keep an eye on the Chiswick Flower Market website.

Image above: Ravenscourt Farmers Market

Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market

The flower market is not the only new market to have opened in west London recently. A new food market also opened at the beginning of September. Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market is run by the organisers of the Bishops Park Farmers Market in Fulham, which has been operating successfully since 2013. Ross Spurrier, who is “Chiswick born and bred” told The Chiswick Calendar they had planned the new market for March 2020, since Bishops Park had been such a success.

“We were talking to Hammersmith & Fulham Council. When the pandemic happened it was put on hold, like everything else. The council shut the parks during lockdown but when they reopened them they realised having an open air market was a good idea”.

The food market has about 20 stalls, selling fresh fruit and veg, fish, bread and cakes and a variety of street food. On their first weekend they had around 3,000 people visiting and their traders were mainly sold out by 12.00. It brought business to the nearby garden centre and cafe and to the surrounding shops, Ross told us.

Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 10.00am – 2.00pm
Bishop’s Park Farmers Market is open Sundays from 10.00am – 2.00pm

Image above: Producers selling at High Street Kensington

High Street Kensington Farmers Market

Another new Farmers Market has just opened (Sunday 20 September) in High St Kensington. The council has decided to close a road next to the Town Hall and Library to make space for around 30 food stalls each week, providing vegetables, fruit, juice, meat, bread, fish and much else besides.

This one is run by London Farmers Markets, which runs food markets at venues all over London, including Balham, Blackheath, Ealing, Islington, Ladbroke Grove, Marylebone, Notting Hill, Parliament Hill, Pimlico Rd, Queens Park, South Kensington, Swiss Cottage, Twickenham, Walthamstow, West Hampstead and Wimbledon.

You will find the new market in High Street Kensington at the junction of Hornton Street and Phillimore Walk.

High Street Kensington Farmers Market is open Sundays from 10.00am – 2.00pm

Images above: Food Market, Chiswick

Food Market Chiswick celebrates its 21st birthday

Our own Farmers Market in Chiswick was well ahead of the curve. The Food Market Chiswick celebrates 21 years in September 2020.

Opposite Chiswick School, behind the flats on the A316 in Dukes Meadows, the market is home to between 20 and 25 stalls each Sunday morning selling a range of fresh food. It was set up as a social enterprise and the revenue it raises is used to maintain the surrounding public space, which includes an adventure playground and a children’s paddling pool.

Among the stalls selling meat, cheese, vegetables, coffee and street food is Hook and Sons, which sells unpasteurized milk (a totally different taste!)

The Food Market Chiswick was forced to close for a few weeks during the height of the lockdown, but market development manager Kathleen Healy says she thinks people feel safer doing their shopping outside. Since the beginning of September the food market has been as busy as ever and they’ve had to have marshals keep the queue in order.

They have recently had a visit from environmental health inspectors who took in the masks, the social distancing, the QR code for the NHS app prominently displayed, the orderly queue and the hourly cleaned loos. Word in the market has it that they were duly impressed and pronounced it “one of the best we have seen”.

Traditionally the Food Market Chiswick decorates for Halloween, and though face painting is a no-no this year, they’ll be doing their spooky best for children on the previous Sunday, 25 October.

Images above: Duck Pond Market in Gunnersbury Park

Duck Pond Market, Gunnersbury Park

Gunnersbury Park has recently become home to a market. Duck Pond market opened there in August 2020, joining Duck Pond markets in Richmond, Ruislip, Highgate and Chalfont St Giles. The artisan markets for independent crafters, food producers and small businesses, launched in 2008 and are growing apace.

“Duck Pond Market combines the magic of a festival with interesting stalls, local, sustainable and ethical food, crafts, homewares and arts — always in a beautiful setting” says founder Caron.

“Stallholder costs are kept low to encourage start-up businesses, the vibe is friendly and supportive and this shows in the happy and relaxed atmosphere”. Duck Pond will be at Gunnersbury Park on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.

Image above: Acton market

Market ‘W3’ opens in October in Acton

A ‘new look’ Saturday market, known as ‘Market W3’, is coming to Acton this autumn. Market W3 will host a range of ‘new and different stalls that will offer food, art, flowers, music, fashion & interior design’.

The market is due to launch on Saturday 3 October, coronavirus restrictions permitting, and will replace the current Saturday market, which has been running since 2007. The first seven weeks are going to be autumn/winter themed, and from 21 November the market will take on more of a ‘Winter Wonderland’ style.

Organisers say they hope to ‘tap into  local talent to put fashion, food, art and music centre stage, and to create opportunities, inspire entrepreneurship and encourage small business development and economic growth in Acton.’

Images above: Old Isleworth market

Old Isleworth Market reopens

Old Isleworth Market also reopened in September, having been closed for several months. The monthly market in Shrewsbury Walk sells a range of fresh produce and new and secondhand goods from the local community. Among the regular stallholders is Brenda Daly’s award winning microbakery Daly Bread.

Previously focused on selling fresh produce, last year the small team of volunteers who run the market expanded its scope to include vinyl, craft, flowers and plants, as well as secondhand children’s books and clothes. The market hosts a variety of musicians and puts on entertainment and craft activities for children. Next markets: Saturday 17 October, Saturday 21 November, Saturday 12 December.

Old Isleworth Market Facebook page

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Flower Market a roaring success

See also: Chiswick Food Market enabled us to survive as a family business