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Falkland’s first digital farmers’ market, giving the community access to local produce at the click of a button, will open its order books on Friday 19 June.

The Centre for Stewardship will run Falkland NeighbourFood from a converted mid-19th century stable block on the Falkland Estate with weekly collections on a Thursday from 4-6pm; with the first socially distant pick up taking place on Thursday 25 June.

The new service will allow the Estate’s farmers, smallholders and orchardists to sell their produce locally, alongside other Fife based producers and growers such as Great Oil and Olives, Leaf Natural Food Wraps (which sells handmade reusable food wraps) and Bad Gal Boocha (Fife’s first independent kombucha brewery).

Lesley Duffy of the Falkland Estate Trust said: “The new click and collect market will give people the chance to buy food from the estate and other local producers online, which is great news for our rural economy and the environment. As well as reducing their food miles and carbon footprint, customers will get a chance to connect with the people who make or grow food at our weekly collections, boosting the relationship between farm and fork.”

Lesley added: “The market complements our existing farming and growing activities. We’ll have apple juice on sale from our orchard and we hope to start selling our organic beef and lamb soon.”

Kim Sullivan of Fife-based Leaf Natural Food Wraps believes the market will help support businesses and communities alike during the ongoing pandemic. She said: “The Neighbourfood markets are such a fantastic way of connecting communities with their local producers and artisans, and as Covid-19 continues to impact on, and restrict, our shopping habits, markets like these could well be the way forward for small businesses and consumers alike. I’m really excited to be part of the new market in Falkland, which I’ve no doubt will be received and supported enthusiastically by the local community.”

Small, independent kombucha brewery, Bad Gal Boocha will also be selling through the market. Owner Heather Blair said: “I’ve been so excited to be part of this market since it started being developed last year. There are so many amazing producers in Fife and I think that Falkland NeighbourFood is going to be a great way to showcase that; it’s also super forward thinking and reflects how times are changing. The market will let us shout about all the produce that is on offer throughout Falkland and its neighbouring villages.”

Locals will also to able to order freshly cut flowers from the grounds of Falkland Palace. Jill Sutherland of Flora Alba said: “We’re offering local people the chance to buy locally grown and unusual varieties of flowers, many of which you won’t find at the wholesale flower markets. The gardens where the flowers are grown are sheltered by old stone walls in the village of Falkland, a special place in the middle of the Fife countryside. All our flowers are grown using natural methods, working with the Scottish seasons and all the challenges our climate can bring. It is a privilege to work in these gardens and to see the pleasure they bring to the people who visit them.”

Environmental charity Forth Environment Link, has been instrumental in getting Falkland NeighbourFood off the ground, thanks to a £208,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s EU LEADER programme to set up click and collect farmer’s markets across Scotland.

Regional Food Project Coordinator, Stuart Guzinski from Forth Environment Link said: “The Regional Food project aims to increase rural access to Scotland’s larder by creating rural employment and offering small scale producers a safe route to market. It’s a sustainable way to food shop that supports local producers and cuts down food miles and food waste. Pre-ordering also means nothing’s wasted. Customers can plan their meals around what seasonal produce is available and producers only harvest or prepare as much as they need.”

Similar markets have already been successfully established in Stirling, Balfron, Blairgowrie and Peebles, with another opening soon in Megginch, Perthshire.

Stirling’s market has sold over 6000 baskets of produce since launching in 2016, boosting the local economy by £141,000 with producers keeping the lion’s share of the profits (£115,800).

NeighbourFood was founded by Cork chef Jack Crotty and business partner Martin Poucher in 2018. The local food network has quickly grown to over 25 markets across the UK and Ireland. The model differs from large retailers, as Jack explains: “Our food producers set their own prices and get a fair price for every product sold. They keep 80% of sales for every product, compared to 15-25% through supermarkets. The remaining 20% is split equally between the market host and NeighbourFood.”

It is hoped a second NeighbourFood market will open in rural Fife later this year. Fife LEADER Programme Coordinator Catharine Idle said: “Fife LEADER is delighted to be supporting this innovative approach to making local food more accessible to local people. We’re now on the look-out for a second organisation to join NeighbourFood, helping people across rural Fife to get access to fresh produce, help them cut food miles and support local producers all at the same time. Market hosts will be given funding, training and promotional support from Forth Environment Link to set up their own market.”

Anyone interested in setting up their own NeighbourFood market in rural Fife should  contact Stuart Guzinki: