How Malvern Hills District Council Saved the Local Farmers Market
Project example provided by: Victoria Carman, Visitor Economy Officer, Visit The Malverns
Great Malvern Farmers Market
The Malverns, Worcestershire, UK
To revive the local monthly farmers’ market by securing a new operator and promoting an improved visitor experience.
Background: Reasons for This Project
Great Malvern is a historic town on the slopes of the Malvern Hills located in Worcestershire, UK. Great Malvern Farmers Market, which takes place once a month throughout the year, features fresh produce by local growers and farmers. All produce sold are local to the region, as the market caters specifically to local growers, farmers, and food and drink producers from within 30 miles of Malvern, an area including Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.
The Malverns are located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), with an abundance of local food and drink produce grown and made right on the doorstep, including local cheese, chutneys, vegetables, fruit, beer, cider, gin and wine.
In 2018, the Worcestershire Farmers Market Group, which oversees all farmers’ markets in the region, decided to close Great Malvern Farmers’ Market, after failing to attract stallholders and in turn visitors. Based on feedback from the stallholders, it was identified that the necessary solution was to find a new operator to run Great Malvern Farmers’ Market.
The Malvern Hills District Council was was given two month’s notice to find a new operator, otherwise the market would cease to exist permanently.
Business Option: Actively Seeking a Solution
To “save” Great Malvern Farmers Market, and to return to having a successful monthly market representing the quality of local produce on offer, a solution (i.e. a new operator) was needed within the timeframe given by the Worcestershire Farmers’ Market Group (2 months).
Neighbouring counties have hugely successful farmers’ markets (Cheltenham, Ludlow, Mosely) which attract visitors from far-and-wide on a monthly basis. It was recognized that by turning the market into an authentic visitor experience that locals are proud of, and where visitors can connect with local food and drink producers, Great Malvern Farmers’ Market could also become recognised as the leading farmers’ market in the area.
The aim of the project, therefore, was securing a new operator and developing the market into a unique experience to attract visitors to the town, and to raise awareness of the amazing local food and drink available from around the local area. Having such a successful local market would also help increase farming productivity and strengthen the local artisan food and drink sector.
Thus, the intended results of the project can be summarized as:
- Output (the final “product” of the project): New farmers’ market operator
- Outcome (the result of the change brought on by the project): New revived farmers’ market
- Benefits (the measurable improvements derived from a successful outcome): Attracting more visitors to the market and to the town; Helps farmers and local producers grow their businesses.
Benefit Realization: Ensuring Long-Term Impact
The story of this project has a happy-ending, as a local events company, Boffy Arts Markets, has become the new operator of Great Malvern Farmers Market, and the monthly market was successfully re-launched in April 2019 (the third weekend of April, which fell on Easter Saturday).
The re-launch date was scheduled to ensure the new market operator had plenty of time to source funding, develop the market, purchase new market stalls, banners and effectively brand and promote it. The re-launch has attracted additional support by key local and regional organizations such as Malvern Hills District Council and Three Counties Agriculture Society, as well as a media partner, All About Magazines.
By securing the future of Great Malvern Farmers Market, the project has not only revived the monthly market, but successfully created an ongoing local attraction, engaging locals and bringing more visitors in the town.
A key part of the strategy for relaunching the market as an authentic and attractive visitor experience has been to work with a larger number, and a more diverse range of stallholders. From the initial relaunch event, and at each monthly market thereafter, the data on participating farmers and producers are monitored and reviewed.
The new energy and attention that the project has brought to the market are helping it enhance its brand, contributing to the long-term goal of the Malverns becoming recognized as a qualify “foodie” destination, with its vibrant monthly farmers’ market as a central piece of the development.