Originally published Autumn 2020
THE Love Arundel consultation last Autumn showed clearly how much a thriving Farmers Market would mean to residents. The Town Council took the need on board and set up a Working Group some months ago, under the leadership of Councillor Michelle Scott, to look at what would be needed to improve the market. The group consisted of Louise Crush (the new Market Manager), Sue Roderick, Andy Batty and Councillor Joe Riley.
There were many answers to what needed to be done. First of all, the appointment of Louise Crush of whom more later. The existing stalls which were owned by the Market were retired in favour of renting bigger, better ones. The traders now feel more weatherproof, have more space to display their wares and have backs to the stalls so traders can use them to display signs. Although the cost of renting these stalls to traders is higher than the old versions, they are deemed to be worth it. The Market also now offers a discount if traders are willing to commit to Arundel on a long term basis.
The road closure, which started in October, helps enormously. It makes the number and flow of people safer and also allows for more stalls – 33 in October and an application for 45 in future has now been approved.
The new manager, Louise, has a history in farmers markets, her parents having started the Steyning Market, which she
now runs, 21 years ago. Her father, Derek Crush, still runs a market stall and is a regular at the Arundel Market. Louise used to work in IT at the Department of Health but her career has taken a major turn since then. These days, as well as running the two Markets, she makes produce such as cordials, chutneys and ketchup from harvesting and foraging produce, which are on sale on her father’s stall. She is sure the market will continue to grow. ‘People are coming because the variety of stalls now means they can be confident they will get all the shopping they need, not just a loaf of bread!’ she says. One stallholder told her ‘It’s like a real event now. I’m really excited to see the next one!’
Meanwhile after the initial success, Michelle is not resting on her laurels. She says: ‘We are collaborating with the Chamber of Commerce on a Christmas themed Farmers Market for December – November sadly cannot happen now due to Covid. The Arundel Farmers Market working group are investigating whether we can have full road closure from the Norfolk Arms down to the Swan Hotel on market day in December, but one that doesn’t involve using River Road as an alternative through route. We don’t know if West Sussex Highways will approve our application, so right now it is very much to be confirmed. If it’s not approved then we will utilise a partial road closure as in October.’
She continues: ‘We’ve had lots of very positive comments from residents and stallholders about the Market and it’s new layout. Every month we do a post market review looking at all the feedback in order to improve the safety, experience and variety of stalls on offer. I am really proud to lead the Farmers Market Working Group which is helping to breathe new life into our historic market town.’