Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Sunday, 25 January 2009

Riverside market's 10th birthday

By Clare Gabriel
BBC news

Stalls at Riverside Market in Cardiff
Shoppers turn out early every Sunday for the market

Where can you buy boar burgers, venison, squirrel meat, speciality cheeses and the best in organic fruit and veg alongside Middle Eastern dishes like falafel, tabbouleh and hummous?

And where do you find Wales' First Minister Rhodri Morgan, green shopping bags in hand, and his MP wife Julie regularly mingling amongst the crowds of Sunday morning shoppers?

At the Riverside Farmer's Market in the shadow of Cardiff's impressive Millennium Stadium alongside the River Taff.

The market is celebrating its first 10 years and even as the recession hits, it seems customers are happy to turn out for the fresh produce on offer.

Steve Garrett who first set up a monthly market in a city park in 1998 and has seen it grow and grow and even spawn a sister market on the other side of Cardiff.

He said the organisers are not prepared to sit back on their laurels.

They already offer community classes in cultivating but are planning much much more.

Steve Garrett and a birthday cake
There was a birthday cake to celebrate

"We've still got ambitions. We're renting a piece of land and planning to get into production this year," he said.

"We feel that there's a lot more we we can can do to try and get more fruit and veg in Wales."

Riverside was set up as a social enterprise with the aim of serving in particular Cardiff's communities of Riverside, Grangetown and Butetown with the philosophy of sourcing as much locally as possible.

Stallholders now come from up to 100 miles away but some, like those cooking Egyptian schwarma and hummous, are drawn from the local communities and Mr Garrett wants that to develop.

"It's not just a place to try new food, it's a place to support local producers and know everything's fresh."

Hala, who lives in nearby Grangetown, has been selling a range of Middle Eastern home cooked specialities since the market first began.

Stallholder Ray Wynne at the market
Ray Wynne says this atmosphere at Riverside is 'brilliant'

"It's good for us, good for business," she said, admitting it had started just as a hobby.

Ray Wynne, from Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire has also been bringing his delicious range of home cooked pies and cakes to Riverside from the start.

He goes to several farmers' markets, but this is one of the best, he said.

"The atmosphere is brilliant, it's just a good market. Rain or shine I still come here ever week," said Mr Wynne.

Hazel Fear, who along with her husband, has 60 boars on her farm Llandovery in Carmarthenshire has not been coming to the market so long - only about two and a half years, but she says she has a lot of regular customers for her sizzling boar burgers.

She says they also farm on organic principles and are keen to support the market.

And cheese maker and goats milk producer Richard Beard, originally from Kent, but now relocated to Talley in Carmarthenshire, puts Riverside in the top 10% of the many farmers' markets he visit.

Customers at the market
Many stallholders say the customers just keep coming back

It is also a place, as I found on my stroll past the busy stalls on the river embankment, just to sit and chat while you consume something you have just bought while a guitarist strums away

On Sunday, there was an impressive birthday cake to cut and special birthday congratulations from Rhodri Morgan.

"I am a great believer in buying good quality, local produce, for health, economic and environmental reasons," Mr Morgan admitted.

"In recent years, the food scene in Wales has really started to take off and a huge variety of quality food and drink is now produced in Wales.

He said:"By buying Welsh, you are getting fresh, seasonal produce that has not travelled hundreds or thousands of miles to your plate."

Riverside has been nominated for many awards since it began 10 years ago and consistently features near the top on websites advising on the best farmers' markets but Steve Garrett insists there is still much more for them to achieve.

"I'm proud we have made such a difference to people, but there's a lot more to do to encourage people to make healthy choices, and there's also a question of supply and demand.

"The demand is there, but there is a shortage or organic food and veg in Wales and we want to change that."

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