New Sunday food market in O2 car park

At 10am this Sunday, West Hampstead welcomes a new food market. The imaginatively named 255 Finchley Road Market is in the O2 car park (some old hands may remember when the Swiss Cottage farmers market was there on Wednesdays, before our own Saturday market had started).

Land Securities, owners of the O2, approached the Food Commission, which already runs the successful Brook Green Market and Kitchen about setting something up. The market will be at the Sainsbury’s end of the car park (on the ‘bus stop’ side) but you won’t be able to miss it – there will be more than 20 stalls, including:

  • Astons Organic Bakery
  • Dee’s Pies
  • Popina Bakery (a familiar face from the Saturday market)
  • Mini Crops (oh so trendy micro greens, sadly not at micro prices)
  • Wild Country Organics (another familiar face from our Saturday market)
  • Woodlands Jersey Beef (beef from Hampshire’s Meon valley)
  • Picks Organic Farm (for those other meats)
  • The Mushroom Table (biodynamic mushrooms – for the biodynamic man – or woman, in your life)

For you homesick Europeans there are a range of European stalls (buy now, before Brexit tariffs)

  • La Contrada (Italian cheese and hams)
  • L’Ami Jac (French wines selected by a Scotsman)
  • Montadito (Spanish foods)
  • The Olive Bar (anti-Brexit, antipasti from across Europe)
  • Nonya Secrets (from further afield, Malay/Singaporean sauces)
  • Quickes Cheese (cloth-bound cheddar)
  • Pep and Lekker (vegan and gluten-free soups)

If you are bit peckish on the day they will have a few stalls selling food to eat then and there:

  • Ede and Bibe (Italian street food)
  • Fruiliamo (Northern Italian street food – mainly vegan/gluten free)
  • The Three Little Pigs (BBQ’d meats in pitta wraps)
  • Rocks (Shellfish cooked on charcoal)
  • Picks Organic Meats (yes the same ones as above, they also sell hot sausages etc)

Looks like quite an interesting selection. And if all that isn’t enough, as at their Brook Green market there will be events such as gin week, butchery workshops, and cheese & wine demos.

London Farmer’s Markets had its own plans for a Sunday market but that planning application has since been withdrawn, so 255 Finchley Road has well and truly stolen a march on them. The new market may well attract a slightly different crowd from the Iverson Road Saturday market, not least the thousands of extra visitors to the O2 centre/Homebase and residents living up and down the Finchley Road. The market will be open 10am to 3pm on Sundays.

Expansion of the Farmers’ market; too much too soon?

London Farmers’ Markets has applied to Camden Council to expand the operating hours of the market that currently pops up on Iverson Road every Saturday. The existing market is popular, so this initially seems like a good idea and LFM has made it very easy for locals to show their support. However, residents who’ve looked at the smallprint have some reservations, and it is far from clear whether the demand is actually there.

We love the farmer's market, but is expansion from 4 to a potential 82 hours a week too much, too soon?

We love the farmer’s market, but is expansion from 4 to a potential 82 hours a week too much, too soon?

For years, the residents of West Hampstead clamoured for a farmers’ market, and their wish came true five years ago. Pretty much from the word go it’s been a success, as our Insight into: Brinkworth Dairy explained.

To build on this success, London Farmers’ Markets – the company that puts on not just the West Hampstead market, but most of the major once-a-week markets around the capital, including Queens Park’s Sunday market – has put in a planning application to expand the hours of operation. On Saturday, the market would potentially run until 8pm, rather than 2pm as it is now. There could be a Sunday market from 10am to 5pm and on Mondays to Fridays it is asking for permission to trade from 7am to 8pm. Add it all up and it’s a potential expansion from 4 to 82 hours a week.

Local residents in Maygrove and Iverson Road, who already are under severe parking ‘stress’ are obviously concerned about the impact on parking, and there are also concerns about rush-hour passenger and traffic flows.

Nor does it seem that the traders themselves are unanimously in favour. Many of the regular stallholders have to drive a couple of hours to get here, which would mean 5am starts (or earlier) if they were to be opening for busines at 7am (not allowing for setup time). Once they finish and pack up there’s another two hour drive home – or more in the afternoon traffic. If the Saturday market didn’t close until 8pm they wouldn’t be home until 11pm, having got up at 5am. And then get up the next day at 5am for the next farmers market? All seems rather implausible.

Other locals have raised concerns about the impact on our local greengrocers, butchers and cafés? Businesses at the farmer’s market don’t have to pay the high rent or rates that businesses with premises have to face, so would this amount to unfair competition.

Postcode survey of farmers' market users source: LFM

Postcode survey of farmers’ market users. Source: LFM

LFM says that the mid-week market would be a different animal to the weekend market. There would be fewer stalls and more food outlets. But this has been tried before, admittedly not by LFM, and was not a great success given the lack of footfall. As we all know, West Hampstead is a busy interchange so there are morning and evening rush hours but not much in-between. Traders who were involved with that market thought that, if at all, just running it on Thursday and Friday night might be a better option.

It does rather feel as if LFM is attempting to get permission for as many hours as it possibly can, and will then work out when it will actually choose to trade, with the flexibility to adjust based on demand and the seasons. The idea of more than 80 hours of trading every week is surely unrealistic.

Even those with reservations – locals and traders – think that an expansion of the hours of trading is worth exploring -perhaps a market on Sunday with similar hours to Saturday but a slightly different focus. During the week perhaps one evening to test the market. In essence let’s not kill the farmer’s market goose that lays the organic golden egg.

Planners at Camden Council are reviewing the application and have acknowledged support for it. However, they are also considering the impact on neighbourhood amenity, local traffic and highway safety plus implications for the viability of the town centre. If you want to comment, you have until the 6th of July and can do so here.

An Insight into: Brinkworth Dairy

London Farmers’ Market, which runs the West Hampstead market, has an annual competition to find customers favourite stall at each market. In West Hampstead, the winner (again) was Brinkworth Dairy. So who better for WHL’s next Insight.

Brinkworth Dairy is run by Ceri and Chad Cryer (helped by their young three boys and other family members) from Hill End Farm, which has been in the family for five generations since 1910. It’s a small 180-acre farm in North Wiltshire, with 100 grass-fed pedigree British Friesians dairy cows. Future plans include offering camping on the farm (and updating the website to include the award of West Hampstead’s farmers market favourite stall).

Every morning Chad gets up at 4.30 to bring in the cows for milking and at the weekend he then gets ready to set off for farmers markets in West Hampstead (Saturday) and Queen’s Park (Sundays).  He’s helped out here sometimes by a local friend, although this weekend he brought along two of his boys, who were selling jars of Chad’s honey – and sold it all.

Brinkworth Dairy, favourite stall at West Hampstead Market

Brinkworth Dairy, favourite stall at West Hampstead Market

Chad, what brought you West Hampstead?

London Farmers’ Market brought me here. Originally I had a stall with them at Queen’s Park as well as Marylebone, they were finding new venues and about four years ago they asked if I wanted to try their new market at West Hampstead. It was a good market from the start – some other markets start off well but then tail-off – but here things started well and continued to grow.  I like to do the work myself so decided to stick to West Hampstead and Queen’s Park and leave Marylebone.

What is your favourite memory of the area?

It was actually when I needed to go Sainsburys to buy some sugar for the stall and I kept on being greeted by customers. It was strange that here I was walking through London, but it felt like being back in my own village. Nice memory.

What was your first impression of West Hampstead?

I set up at the first market with my friend Seb, who had grown up here and so have mainly seen it through his eyes. He was amazed how much it had changed, and rather regretted his parents had sold their house here.

The first customers were really pleased that the space outside the station was being used. I knew a few of them from Queen’s Park market, they were also pleased they didn’t have go so far for their coffee, cheese and yogurt.

Cheese, glorious cheese, milk, yogurt and butter. Highly recommended by @thewetfishcafe

Cheese, glorious cheese, milk, yogurt and butter. Blue cheese highly recommended by @thewetfishcafe

What has surprised you about the way West Hampstead has changed?

Even in the short space of time I have been coming I have seen the skyline change. When I chat to someone new, often a couple, buying a coffee I’ll discover that they are looking at property in the area.

What’s for lunch?

A pizza from Napoli, the new pizza stall – usually with a samosa from Mumbai Mix (they have the stall next to mine at Queen’s Park). Otherwise it might be a burger from James, or a sausage roll.  But pizza is the new thing.

Conversely, when I’m setting up my stall at 8.45 all the other stallholders are polite enough but what they are really saying is ‘hurry up, please, I want my coffee!”

West Hampstead in three(ish) words?

Nice sense of community.

Farmers’ market update

For those of you that have read this far – changes to the farmers’ market are on the cards. There is talk of extending to Sunday and even running it some weekday evenings.





Some locals have beef with market sign; others just like beef

Last Saturday, Tori & Ben’s Farm was awarded this year’s prize for “Customers’ Favourite Stall” at the West Hampstead Farmers’ Market. The stall sells lamb and Longhorn beef from their farm on the Derbyshire / Leicestershire borders.

Abi at Tori & Ben's Farm's prize-winning stall

Abi at Tori & Ben’s Farm’s prize-winning stall

The runner-up was last year’s winner, Brinkworth Dairy, which sells milk and cream at its stall, as well as takeaway coffee, to a steady queue of customers each week.

It’s good news for the stallholders, but latest statistics show that customer numbers have dropped since the market opened on the Thameslink forecourt in 2012. In its first year, the average footfall at the market was 3,558, but by 2014 the average had fallen to 2,477.

In an effort to boost customer numbers and raise awareness, London Farmers’ Markets, the organisation behind West Hampstead’s Saturday market, has applied to Camden for planning permission for its promotional banner to be placed between the trees on the Thameslink forecourt for a period of six months. There have so far been nine objections to this proposal, with some residents criticising the “unsightly” proposed banner, but Camden has received many more messages in support of the banner, 56 in total, including one from the West Hampstead NDF committee.

Cheryl Cohen, of London Farmers’ Markets, explains the need for a banner in the covering letter to the application, stating that it is “necessary to draw the farmers’ market to the attention of those who may not know that it exists,” in an area with a high turnover of residents. Why this method of advertising? From a survey carried out at the market, “47% of people said that they had found out about the market via the banner.”

Abi, who was manning Tori and Ben’s stall on Saturday, said that they had noticed a slight “six-month slump” in customer numbers, but that things seemed to be picking up again. She said it was still very much worth the trip to West Hampstead each week, due to the stall’s many loyal customers who return to buy their meat each Saturday.

What could explain the drop in footfall at the market? The shopping landscape of West Hampstead has changed since 2012. In the past twelve months, West End Lane has had new shops open selling fresh, good-quality produce. West Hampstead Fruit & Vegetables is always busy, and open late every evening. The Hampstead Butcher & Providore has a wide range of good-quality meat, Cook! sells freshly-cooked convenience food, and how could we forget the new Waitrose opening?

What do you think – are you loyal to the farmers’ market, an occasional customer, or do you use other shops or supermarkets? And do you support the organisers’ proposal for a banner to help restore customer footfall? Comment below or join the discussion on the Forum.

You say tomato, I say delicious

We’re bang in the middle of tomato season, and what better way to make the most of them than in a Summer Tomato Tart. Local residents and enthusiastic foodies Emily and Sophie Cook from the Cooks Cook website have kindly shared this great recipe – they popped down to the West Hampstead Farmers’ market on Saturday to get a fantastic selection of fresh tomatoes from the organic fruit and veg stall, before preparing this delicious dish.

Sophie chooses tomatoes at the farmers' market

Sophie chooses tomatoes at the farmers’ market

Over to Sophie for the recipe!

The tomatoes really speak for themselves in this tart, and are just divine against the caramelised onion and the pastry case. If time is short, simply use a pre-rolled sheet instead of making your own – this way it becomes super easy to prepare. Otherwise follow our recipe below. I’ve used wholemeal flour which I find doesn’t “puff” as much as plain flour but I don’t find that matters for this. Plus it’s healthier and tastes great against the sweet filling.


Puff pastry:
1 puff pastry sheet OR the below if you are making your own:
300g wholemeal flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
250g butter, softened
150ml ice cold water

Tart filling:
2 tbsp butter
5 tbsp water
2 tbsp sugar
2 red onions, sliced
1 pound tomatoes, cherry, grape or vine
Large handful fresh basil leaves
Salad flowers for garnish, optional

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Make the puff pastry. (If you are using a pre-made roll, skip to step 5). Whisk together 200g flour with 1 tsp salt, slowly adding and whisking in 100ml of water followed by 100g of butter. If too sticky, add more flour, too dry, more water.
3. On a floured surface, knead the dough for about 5 minutes. It should become more elastic and smoother in appearance. Bring back to a ball and slice through the top with a sharp knife. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes. Next is the second step to the pastry.
4. Whisk together the remaining pastry ingredients then knead until a smooth-ish ball is formed. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes. Now you can get on with the rest of the tart.
5. Heat 1 tbsp butter over a medium heat. Add onions, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp water and stir occasionally until the onions have caramelised. This could take up to 15 minutes. Once you get there, transfer them to a bowl.
6. In an oven-proof frying pan heat the remaining sugar and water until it starts to turn brown. Now add the tomatoes, scattering the cooked onions around. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
7. By now the pastry should be ready to construct (if using a pre-rolled sheet, skip this step). Take the pastry with the slit down the middle and roll until flat. Place the buttery dough ball in the middle and completely wrap up with the pastry sheet. With a rolling pin, batter the pastry until flat, then roll out to a flat rectangle. Fold the pastry from each side into the centre and roll out again – repeating this step a few times.
8. Roll the pastry to about half a cm in thickness, then cut a circle as big as the largest width of your frying pan. Place this over the tart filling, ensuing the pastry edges are tucked in and completely cover everything. Slit the top several times with a knife.
9. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. The top should become golden in colour.
10. To remove the tart, simply turn the pan upside down over a serving dish. Now wedge the basil leaves between the tomatoes, scatter with the edible flowers if using, and you are ready to serve.

The finished tart, ready to serve!

The finished tart, ready to serve!

Brinkworth Dairy is local’s crème de la crème


West Hampstead Farmers Market has a new champion. Over four weeks of online polling, customers have voted Brinkworth Dairy as the market’s “Favourite Stall” of 2014.

The dairy, which sells cheese, milk, butter and cream as well as serving top-notch coffee, gets to unfurl the coveted yellow banner for the next year over its stall, which is right at the end of the market.

The dairy farm is based in North Wiltshire, and has been in the same family since it was taken over by William Collingborn in 1910. It has bred Friesan cows ever since in a closed herd.

The cheese making business began in 2006, and 80 percent of its revenue is now from farmers markets such as West Hampstead. Ceri Cryer, great-granddaughter of William, and her husband Chad run this side of the business, while Ceri’s dad Joe runs the farm. Chad can usually be found manning the coffee machine at the stall.

Ceri explains what’s special about the Brinkworth approach:

Everything is really handmade. In the cheese making, we don’t even use any mechanical stirrers or cutters. This means the curd is handled really gently and means that the cheese is really creamy. It means we only produce small volumes (60kg) at a time. Even the milk is bottled by hand just using a small tap. Milk is better when it hasn’t been knocked around so much. The ice-cream is made in 3 litre batches at a time which makes it easy to do bespoke flavours. The yogurt is made in a unique way – again with little handling and our customers love it!

Ceri’s own favourite product is the cream. “It’s so thick! It’s not double but quadruple cream”.

Farmers markets may mean that producers can cut out the middle man, but they are still hard work. Brinkworth is at seven markets every week, two on a Wednesday, two on a Saturday and three on a Sunday (including Queens Park, where it won best stall last year). Different markets have different emphasis. Marylebone is all about the cheese, whereas milk and butter does well in West Hampstead as families use the market for more of their staples.

What makes them the customers’ favourite. Chad reckons (sotto voce) that it might be that they’re good value!

Brinkworth Dairy West Hampstead

Time to make the farmers’ market legal

Not that it’s exactly been “illegal” since it opened. The market has been allowed to operate without planning permission for a short period of time, but now the application is in with Camden and if you are broadly in favour of us having a farmers’ market in West Hampstead every Saturday then it would be a good idea to go to the comments section of the planning application website and say so.

I’m not entirely sure why the application itself is not searchable on Camden’s website, but it’s pretty straightforward so if you like the market, let Camden know you want to keep it.

Because one market’s never enough

Tomorrow there’s going to be another market opposite the farmers’ market.

This is a small craft market selling greetings cards, including Christmas cards, designed by a local artist, designer watches and bracelets from Australia, as well as vintage jewellery. Will be interesting to see whether the farmers’ market shoppers will be drawn across the road or not.

Farmers’ market makes a splash

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the first West Hampstead Farmers’ Market last Saturday, but intrepid correspondent Nimet was on hand to record it for posterity in both words and pictures.

“Shortly after 10am on a crisp Saturday morning on the Thameslink station forecourt, in front of a small gathering, Cllr Gilllian Risso-Gill rang the inaugural bell and announced the West Hampstead Farmers’ Market open.

Finally! The is it on / off palaver had caused some entertainment in the run up over the past few months, but the resident cow had certainly left no doubt that the market was definitely on.

I arrived shortly before 10am, spoke to Cheryl Cohen from the London Farmers’ Market, then watched some of the hardy stall holders dressed in their gloves and hats set out their stalls ready for business (you can find out more about the full list of producers). The vibrantly coloured fruit and vegetables, freshly baked bread, cheese, flowers, fish and meat soon looked at home on the normally empty forecourt.

I spent over an hour at the market wandering around speaking to the vendors about their produce, observing the crowds and earwigging conversations. Each producer was more than happy to let you try a sample (where appropriate) and all spoke passionately about their produce. One farmer gushed about how his wife had handmade all the sausages and gave expert advice on how to cook them.

The shoppers really were loving it, there was a chaotic buzz and very few stalls struggling for custom while I was there. Most came with empty bags which slowly filled up with fresh produce. The evidence on Twitter (#whampFM is the hashtag in case you’re wondering) is clear – it was a resounding success, Jonathan also Storify’d the reaction. I’m pretty certain the weather played a huge part in the massive turn out and the stock sell out my midday. I really hope that Whampers still make the trip to support the market when the weather isn’t so fair.

Someone on Twitter asked me what ‘Lincolnshire’s finest’ was doing in West Hampstead…? Well, we didn’t expect many NW6 producers did we? In fact, quite a lot of the vendors aren’t actually from London. As Jonathan explained in a previous post, all the producers come from within a 100 miles radius of the M25 and they must raise, grow or bake all their stock. Well, that’s good enough for me.

Stupidly, I went to the market with only a £1 coin in my purse so I hunted for best way to spend my fortune. I settled on 6 large eggs that were laid the previous day. I made dippy egg and marmite soldiers. Delicious.

The West Hampstead Farmers’ Market is trading each Saturday between 10am and 2pm on the West Hampstead Thameslink station forecourt, see London Farmers’ Market website and Facebook for more.”

JOB: Want to manage the West Hampstead farmers’ market?

If you are organised, efficient, and enthusiastic, and you are interested in food, environmental issues, or farming, you might enjoy managing London Farmers’ Markets new West Hampstead market.

You need to be self motivated, assertive, cheerful, a good communicator, polite, and well organised.

Some of the duties include:

  • Being present at set up of the market (usually 2 hours before start of market). Duties involve co-ordinating the position of stalls, and putting up signs.
  • Setting up a table with information about London Farmers’ Markets
  • Ringing the opening bell and ensuring that there is no selling before the bell.
  • After ringing the closing bell, supervising the clearing of the site and confirming that each stallholder has cleaned up.
  • Filling in a weekly market report to LFM on market day
  • Enforcing the market rules.
  • Talking to stall holders and customers and convey those comments to LFM.
  • Promoting the market during market hours, for example, by leafleting, handing out samples or talking to local businesses or community groups.

If you’re interested then contact . Send them a letter or e-mail telling us something about yourself. If you have a C.V. then attach it, but if you don’t, or it’s not relevant, a written statement giving an indication of your previous experience is fine. Please provide two referees. Tell LFM what you’d bring to the job, why you think you’d make a good manager, and what skills you think you’d bring to the role. If you’ve been to one of the LFM markets, give them your impressions, and what you think could be done to improve it. You’ll need access to e-mail and a mobile phone.

Farmers’ market moooves closer

The saga of West Hampstead’s farmers’ market has been more like a storyline from The Archers of late. Will it/won’t it/Has Nigel Pargeter fallen off the roof?

Then today a cow appeared. Not a real cow obviously, but a painted one. It’s standing next to the Mr Whippy van and the hot dog stand, so probably just as well it’s not a real one. It’s announcing that the Farmers’ Market will open on September 22nd.

The LFM website confirms that the market will be every Saturday from 10am to 2pm. In early September the organisers will announce who’s going to open the market. In the meantime, LFM is still looking for a manager for the West Hampstead market if you’re interested!

Farmers’ market confusion

I reported a few days ago that London Farmers’ Markets had added West Hampstead to its list, with an opening date of September 22nd. Odd then that a day later the page had been removed. Odd, right?

I contacted LFM to see if I could find out why, and was met with a “not my area, call back later in the week,” delivered in a defensive tone.

Instead, I tweeted Cheryl Cohen of LFM who responded very quickly and much more positively. She quelled the rumour I’d heard that the problem was a conflict with Queens Park farmers’ market, which LFM also runs.

“We are confident,” said Cohen, “that we will have confirmation of the West Hampstead farmers’ market soon and are very much looking forward to becoming a part of the local community.”

This would imply that the issue is with Network Rail, who own the land and perhaps the website shouldn’t have gone live.

There’ll be a Facebook page for the market soon apparently. But despite the disappearance of the website, the message from LFM is that all is still on track. Lets hope Network Rail are on the same track.

Farmers’ market – it’s official

London Farmers’ Markets has added West Hampstead to its list of markets. The market, which will be outside the new Thameslink station, opens on September 22nd and every Saturday after that. There isn’t much detail yet on what the stalls will be.

UPDATE Aug 7th : the West Hampstead page has been removed from LFM’s website. Find out why:

London Farmers’ Market is the organisation that operates the only accredited farmers’ markets in London (they are accredited by the National Farmers’ Retail & Markets Association (FARMA)). Its producers come from within 100 miles of the M25 and they must raise, grow or bake everything they sell.

I’ve been reporting on the evolution of this market for a few months now. The response has generally been positive, with a few sceptics and grumblers thrown in for good measure. Interestingly, LFM claims that farmers markets increase footfall and increase trade for local businesses by as much as 20–30 percent.

Farmers’ market in West Hampstead?

You’ll remember back in April that I asked you all to say what sort of market you’d like to see set up by the new Thameslink station. I passed your comments on to our local councillors who were taking them into account.

I never aggregated the results for you on here. So here they are:
Food – 33 votes
Crafts/gifts – 6 votes
Antiques – 5 votes
A mix of all the above 3 votes
Food with flea market once a month – 2 votes
Books – 1 vote

It was clear that food was the most popular and there was a strong sense that people wanted good quality “normal” food rather than it all being cakes and “treats” (apart from people who run cake companies who said they wanted cakes).

You’ll also remember that I banged on about the fact that, as much as we might want it, it wouldn’t be a farmers market. This was what I’d been told – and was consistent with previous discussions about the lack of space.

So, imagine my surprise when I found out that it now looks like it’s going to be a proper farmers market. Apparently, London Farmers’ Markets (who organise most of the main farmers’ markets in London, including Queens Park) is in discussion with Network Rail (who own the land) about a Saturday market with around 18 stalls.

This is very much still in the negotiation stage and is not confirmed. It wouldn’t start until September. Of course being an official farmers’ market would mean that local would-be stallholders would be squeezed out if they were not accredited. Is it better to have a a high-grade market that attracts people to the area, or a mixed market with local businesses taking more of the direct revenue? I would argue the former model is more sustainable. It’s also possible – as has happened at Swiss Cottage – that a successful farmers’ market could spill over into other market trading days in the same space.