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Chilli jam, giggly pig sausages and multi-coloured cup cakes

Helen Carey - 07 June 2012

Two boys at Eastlea schoolChilli jam, giggly pig sausages, multi-coloured cup cakes, Wyfe of Bath cheese, butter making, Eastlea baked sourdough bread, sunflowers, dancers, a toddler sized chicken and ferrets! – were just some of the items that featured in Eastlea Secondary School’s first ever farmers’ market held on a sunny Saturday in March in Newham – East London.
This followed a residential farm visit to Bore Place Farm near Sevenoaks in Kent by 11 pupils aged 11-13 last November where they took part in wide range of food related activities which have inspired their market. They learned how to bake bread, make butter from double cream, produce a simple soft cheese and each went home with a jar of home made chilli jam – some of these then featured on market day.

Adam says (of the farm trip):  “It’s important to experience things like this since you get to experience things that you wouldn’t be able to experience in the city such as touching a real (alive) chicken or milking a cow. You can also take on the role of an everyday farmer while having fun. You can learn where most of your food comes from, where it is grown or made and how it affects the environment, during the transportation process from the country of origin to your supermarkets.  All in all it was a very good trip and I would recommend it to everyone”.

An enthusiastic team of about 30 pupils led by the wonderful Miss Shirani, Mr Uddin and Dina Jung (teachers who accompanied the pupils on their farm visit) spent about a month planning the market and advertising it. Pupils designed posters, flyers and banners in order to let the local community know about the event and put leaflets in several local shops. Judging by the steady stream of people coming into the market throughout the morning, their publicity was very successful.

Selling bread at Eastlea SchoolIt was a true community event with support from the local co-operative store who donated raffle prizes, Union Coffee (a local fair-trade coffee outlet) and the local City Farm – who provided the ferrets – along with various other furry and feathered animals (!)  and laid on activities for young children. 

The day before the market Hackney baker Ben MacKinnon from E5 Bakehouse baked about 50 loaves of sourdough bread which sold out very quickly indeed.  An ex pupil sold a vast quantity of  amazingly bright coloured cup cakes, and Mr Uddin’s very hot chilli jam was a huge hit. The Eastlea plant stall which had an amazing quantity of plants and was running a ‘grow the tallest sunflower competition’ provided a real feast of colour in the middle of the market. There was even a dance performance and a Master of Ceremonies who kept customers informed of the events as they happened throughout the afternoon.

Several of the pupils got to be stall holders for the afternoon selling produce direct to the customers on behalf of the farmers. This gave them first hand experience in talking to member of the public, handling money and explaining where the food was from.

Overall the market was a huge success and has widened pupils’ understanding of where their food comes from and how they can support local producers. Roll on the next market!!

Stall at Eastlea school Stall at Eastlea School Stall at Eastlea

Helen is the London Schools Farmers' Market Co-ordinator at the Soil Association, and works on a project called Farm Academy, which is all about connecting pupils to where their food comes from via residential visits to organic farms and the setting up and running of school farmers' markets. It is now working with five schools. She'll be reporting on how the schools are getting on preparing to run their first markets.

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