Go there for: Freshly baked cakes, bread, savouries, pies, free-range local eggs, meat and cheese.
Avoid: Arriving late! Only open Friday from 10 -11.30 am, regulars snap up best buys fast.
Is it worth the calories?: A social enterprise that helps the smallest producers sell their wares – of course it is!
Tips: You can order goods in advance, including meat – remember it’s cash only.
This little community market is one of 350 in the UK and Channel Islands, including eleven in Surrey. Established in 1919 as a co-operative social enterprise, Country Markets provide a unique opportunity for individuals and small producers to sell their products locally.
Only open on Fridays between 10 and 11.30, Jacob’s Well Market is a complete treat. We found tables of home-baked cakes, breads and biscuits; savouries, including quiche, beetroot and goat’s cheese tarts and lentil tray-bakes; preserves, honey and chutneys; and culinary delights like bacon and cheese bread (heavenly toasted with butter). One lady runs a stall for award-winning local butcher Conisbee, another sells free-range eggs and cheese. In summer stall-holders sell the glut from their vegetable plots as well as plants and flowers. The stock here rightly changes with the seasons.
On arrival you are furnished with a shopping sheet and a basket. Each time you select an item your form is updated and you pay at the cash desk. The market records all the sales and pays the vendors after removing their ten percent. A small stall in North Street market in Guildford will cost you £60 a day. This community marketplace charges a nominal membership fee of just 5p a year. To bag a stall you have to join the waiting list and bring something that other traders aren’t already selling.
There’s a craft market too: we found beautifully sewn babies’ bonnets, toys and greeting cards. Everything is homemade and unique – an experience that cannot be replicated on the high street.
Country Markets offer a low-key but essential outlet for people who want to make a few items to sell once a week. They provide camaraderie, a modest income and a way of making a contribution to the community.
If you need an antidote to chain-store shopping, check out your local market – knowing the money you spend goes straight in the producer’s pocket.
National Country Markets 01246 261508