Cirencester Farmers’ Market celebrates its 20th anniversary next weekend.

To celebrate the occasion, Simon Smith and Lord Bathurst, who started the first farmers’ market, will be making their return.

The day is set to be full of lots of locally made produce to sample and buy, while there will be music, a live broadcast from Corinium Radio, cooking demonstrations from luxury cake maker Aggy Dadan and free birthday cake for all.

The Farmers’ Market movement started in the UK in the 1990s as a result of poor farm prices, leading to many family farms needing a viable local route to market their produce.

With the objective to provide a retail opportunity for small local farmers to sell their produce, Mr Smith and Lord Bathurst established the Cotswold Farmers’ Market Association and on September, 11, 1999, Cirencester embarked on their first farmers’ market which was located next to the historic Cattle Market. Twenty-two nervous stallholders staffed their pitches and Cirencester Farmers’ Market was born. Some of those traders like Easy Bees are still present today after 20 years.

Lord Bathurst and Mr Smith have fond memories of setting up the market on a shoe string budget with little knowledge of the business, but with a real desire to provide Cirencester community with good quality, local, seasonal produce where customers can find out about how and where their food had been produced.

Lord Bathurst himself compiled a scrap book of images to show people his farm and animals and enjoyed the opportunity to connect with his customers.

The farmers’ market moved into the town centre in 2002 and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2009.

At this time Cirencester itself was adapting and there were greater opportunities for people to obtain their produce from retail shops in the area.

The market also adapted to provide more processed products, specialist crafts and quality ‘eat on the spot’ foods.

Madgetts Farm, Woodland Game/Old Stag Cider and Bow-in-the Cloud Winery, along with many other loyal traders, have stood the test of time.

The farmers’ market has provided a great stepping stone to slingshot these local businesses into further opportunities.

Lucy from Corinium Ales said: “We could not have had the face-to-face direct customer experience without it – the market played a huge role in building our local customer base and presence and is where we launched our business seven years ago.

“Markets are great launching pads and places for your product to be seen, even if not a lot is sold sometimes, you never know who is browsing.”

Kate from Plenty Pies added: “I’ve been a stall holder for more than five years.

“I’ve always really enjoyed doing the market and am fortunate to have lots of loyal customers who love our pies!

“The mix of local residents, day trippers and holiday makers visiting the market keeps it vibrant and worthwhile bring a part of.”

In 2012, Cirencester Town Council took over the management of the farmers’ market.

Since November 2016, following the regeneration of the Market Place, the farmers’ market has been run in partnership with Cotswold Markets Ltd.

The town council’s community services team, managed by Becky Coles, is responsible for all the markets and events held in the Market Place.

Last year the team’s commitment to developing the town’s markets and events was recognised when they were awarded the title of Market Team of the Year by the National Association of British Market Authorities.

Joanne from S J Flowers said: “Initially it was about meeting and serving the local community and welcoming the tourist to Cirencester but over the last four years our customers have become friends. When they come to the farmers’ market, our customers know what they are buying and that it has been sourced properly and that they are supporting local trade.

“The quiet chit chat in the morning as the traders set up, followed by the gorgeous odours of all the different foods cooking is amazing.”

“The soft talking grows louder throughout the morning with so much laughter amongst both traders and customers it lifts one’s spirits.

“It is the best therapy to be a part of such a lovely group of people, both traders and customers.”

The farmers’ Market continues to be held every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month.

Join in the celebrations on September 14, with the official opening taking place at 10.15am and a ceremonial cutting and sharing of the cakes at 11am, which have been donated by farmer’s market traders, Hobbes House, Cilla’s Cakes, Maryanne Robinson and Bev’s Cakes.