How Real Food Ilkley is starting a food revolution in West Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 May 2016

Shoppers crowd the market

Shoppers crowd the market

not Archant

A community comes together to celebrate the finer foods of life, as Lucy Allen reports

Gluten free goodiesGluten free goodies

At last, after 18 months of careful planning, Ilkley has finally got its very own fine food and local produce market. Real Food Ilkley, which runs on the first Sunday of every month, offers a range of goodies such as handmade Yorkshire artisan cheeses, chutneys from Ilkley and fruit liqueurs from Addingham to authentic Indian sauces from Leeds and award-winning gluten free cakes from Burley in Wharfedale.

It was the idea of Paula Connor who, while making preserves in her kitchen in Ilkley, to launch a fine food market which she hoped would bring the community together. Paula, now a stallholder, started The Greenhut Co, a chutney and preserves company in 2014, developing a small range of preserves using fruit and vegetables in accordance to organic standards and selling them at a variety of markets in Yorkshire. She wanted to do more in Ilkley and to work with the community and so gathered a number of like-minded producers and experts in food markets. Together they created Real Food Ilkley, a Community Interest Company (CIC), which is a not-for-profit organisation.

Half the stalls appearing at Real Food Ilkley are producers from the LS29 area, and the team is keen on creating a pop-up community hub where people can meet and learn more about the food they eat every month. The 15 stalls of Real Food Ilkley tucked just behind the Black Hat pub car park in the centre of Ilkley, are full of fresh and tantalising produce. The market also includes two different community stalls each month.

‘Our aim is to support local producers and retailers and work with local community groups,’ says Paula. ‘Ilkley is a hub for people who want to make things happen and there is a great range of independent shops, cafes and restaurants in the town now which are working together; the area seems to be attracting real talent. We were overwhelmed by the success of the first two events and we’re already seeing regulars to the market, and producers and retailers are linking up.’

Lizzie Fellows, a member of Leeds Bread Co-op, is a regular stall holder at Real Food Ilkley. She said about the first Real Food Ilkley market: ‘It was absolutely fantastic and we were so pleased to be part of it. We sold over 600 loaves of bread in the first two hours of the market! The people of Ilkley are real discerning foodies and we promise to bring more tasty bread to the next markets!’ w

Ilkley Fine Food and Local Produce Market takes place on the first Sunday of the month at 10.30am to 3pm until December. For more information about stalls contact Paula on ilkleymarket@gmail.com; community groups can email bernie@realfoodilkley.co.uk. tweet @realfoodilkley or visit Facebook/ilkleyfoodmarket.

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