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Harleston Country Market celebrates centenary of Country Market Ltd

Some of the committee members of Harleston Country Market. Picture by Mark Bullimore.
Some of the committee members of Harleston Country Market. Picture by Mark Bullimore.

A Norfolk farmers’ market is going from strength to strength, despite more and more similar ventures slowly disappearing in the area.

Harleston Country Market, part of Country Markets Ltd, aims to keep alive home crafts, gardening and baking by encouraging producers to bring their goods to a weekly market.

Market manager Ruth Wharton said: “I think we serve the community by providing home-made food and a coffee shop where everybody gets to meet and chat.”

She added: “We offer friendship, a smile and a cup of coffee. Combined with everything else we offer, it makes for a great atmosphere on a Wednesday morning.”

The market, held in King George’s Hall, is celebrating the centenary of Country Market Ltd with an additional market on July 27.

“It will be a good opportunity to remind people that we are here,” said Mrs Wharton, from Pulham St Mary.

“When King George’s Hall briefly closed a few years ago, we went to The Swan, but a lot of people said they didn’t know where we were.”

As one of the oldest markets in Norfolk, Harleston Country Markets was first established in 1976.

It currently offers eggs, meat, produce, flowers, crafts and baking and, in recent years, has adapted to modern shopping behaviour.

“You can now pay by card and we also offer vegetarian or gluten-free items on request,” said Mrs Wharton.

“I think for a successful market, it highly depends on who is running it. As a team you have to get on well and work together. It’s a team effort – that’s what keeps us going.”

The market is organised by a committee made up of nine people from Harleston and the surrounding villages, most of whom are also stallholders.

On average, about 50 people attend the weekly market and many elderly customers appreciate the home-cooked food on offer.

“It’s a nice morning out for them,” said Mrs Wharton, 68.

“The same people are behind the counter every time, so we get to know our customers and they get to know us.”

In the future, the committee wants to maintain what they already offer.

“We just want to try to keep going,” said Mrs Wharton.

“We currently fill the venue, so we can’t have extra stalls. But we want to get more cooks and producers.”

The celebration market will take place outside The Swan Hotel on July 27, from 9.30am to noon.

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