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Vale Harvest is an Asset

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Harriet Sullivan, a member of the Vale Harvest Committee, responds to recent concerns over the potential impact of the monthly food market on local shops ...

As a member of Vale Harvest, I was disheartened to read the 'support your local shops' article earlier this week based upon the comments of an observer at the last parish council. The market has become a popular social event in the village and to date, feedback has been very positive. It encourages people to get out on a Saturday morning and I know that many of our customers remain loyal to the local shops as well as supporting the market. After all, we are local businesses too with the vast majority of stallholders coming from within the village and surrounding area.

While there might be some crossover with village shops in terms of produce, it is unfair to blame the market for taking business away from them. When we first started, we invited the local businesses to get involved, either by having their own stall or encouraging them to advertise at the market. The market only takes place once a month and the produce on offer is not the same; the local bakery that attends has a very different range of bread, the fruit and vegetables are organic and locally grown, and the meat is mostly free-range. However, our goal is the same — to encourage people to shop locally and maintain the vibrancy that is so characteristic of Haddenham. Other local services such as the community library certainly benefit from the market; only last month did our local PCSO who runs 'Cops and Coffee' in the library comment upon the increased footfall on market day.

Sadly, the lack of support for local shops is a much wider issue. There are now over 3,300 households in the ward of Haddenham yet only a small percentage attend the market, which would infer that a large majority of the village and environs are shopping elsewhere and/or online. Time and money are two very important factors so it is vitally important that all local ventures offer affordable, quality produce at a convenient time for customers.

We urge everyone to support each and every form of local enterprise and welcome any of the village businesses to get involved in Vale Harvest.

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