Norfolk-only food stall welcomed

JON WELCH It prides itself on offering an almost endless selection of goods from all round the world, but Norwich market has just welcomed a stall selling only food from Norfolk.


It prides itself on offering an almost endless selection of goods from all round the world, but Norwich market has just welcomed a stall selling only food from Norfolk.

The stall is being run by Produced in Norfolk (PIN), a co-operative of local food producers, and will be selling a selection of their items.

Among the products on sale at yesterday's launch were honey from Orchard Apiaries of Surlingham, near Norwich; free-range venison and organic beef and lamb from Houghton Hall, near Fakenham, and beer from Iceni Brewery of Ickburgh, near Brandon.

The stall will provide a six-day-a-week, city-centre outlet for Norfolk producers. As well as providing distinctively local products, the co-operative hopes the stall will help to boost the rural economy and cut down so-called food miles, helping the environment.

PIN was founded in 2005 to promote and support local producers, and now has more than 120 members. It is claimed to be the only organisation in the country run by producers for producers, with the aim of promoting the distinctiveness of the area.

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Operations manager Sophia Bates said: “Producers have been saying the one thing they lack is a permanent selling opportunity in Norwich city centre. We've been talking to the market on and off since last year. Norwich City Council has been looking at ways of bringing genuine local producers in.

“This stall will make buying local produce easy. People can come down and pick up their shopping in their lunch hour. That's what we're trying to do - take the barriers away.

“We're aware we're in a market that is the oldest of its kind and we really want to establish it as a centre for local produce. People nip over the road to Tesco when what they need is here. There's so much here and we're really proud to be a part of that.”

The stall will initially stock produce from seven members of the co-operative, with more expected to come on board later.

Mike Thurlow, of Orchard Apiaries, will sell several varieties of his honey - including starflower, lime and mixed blossom - through the stall.

At £4 a jar, he acknowledges that it is more expensive than supermarket honey but believes it is well worth it.

“Supermarkets need to bottle 20 tonnes of honey at a time, and no one can produce that so it gets blended. All my boxes of honey are numbered so I know exactly where each comes from,” he said. “Ninety per cent of honey sold in this country is imported, mostly from the Americas and some from eastern Europe. That uses four-and-a-half times the energy that my honey does.

“People buying my honey are getting a more distinctive product, are supporting the rural economy and cutting down food miles. We're also making a valuable contribution to the ecology of the countryside through the pollination of flowers.”

Julian Stoyel, deer manager at Houghton Hall, is hoping the estate venison will be popular. “Some people are squeamish about venison because of the Bambi syndrome, but I explain that the animal is shot in the field and knows nothing about it. It doesn't go on a lorry to a slaughterhouse. Venison is the second-lowest meat in cholesterol after ostrich. We have 10 species of deer on the estate and their meat all has a different taste. Muntjac are browsers who eat berries and fruit from hedgerows and so their meat has a fruity taste. Fallow deer eat acorns and beech nuts so their meat has the sweetness of a nut,” he said.

“The demand for venison is up 67pc this year nationally, which is due to TV cookery programmes. People often think it's expensive but my biggest thing is making it affordable to people.”

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