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Kent Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 01 February 2014 by Tim Ingram

The 'Best of Faversham' market

The 'Best of Faversham' market

The film ‘Chocolat’ is all about temptation, but also enterprise. 

The 'Best of Faversham' market

In the absence of Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp we have the ‘Best of Faversham’ market.

These are no idle words even if everyone is not appreciative of change and those involved with the market have to work especially hard to make it succeed. Fortunately it has the support of the town council and the Mayor and the more enlightened of shopkeepers.

... who can see the benefits it brings by attracting many new people into the town. The market has brought together an interesting group of people. It is run as a non-profit making co-operative in part association with the traditional market in the town. One of the organisers and originators of the idea has a background of working in organisations like Virgin and the BBC and a great sense of making the market appropriate for an old market town like Faversham.

Another of the stallholders bakes ‘Wild Bread’, but has also a background of biological research in Madagascer, and his partner, who studied anthropology at Oxford, spends time overseas amongst indigenous communities following the way in which ‘modernity’ clashes or integrates with these older styles of life. One can’t help feel that something of the same goes on in our culture too. He uses old varieties of wheat and rye in making bread, and is very popular in the town. 

There are stallholders selling local produce of many sorts from real ales brewed by small Kentish breweries, the home made chocolates that I introduced this with, preserves and flavoured liquors (very good I can assure you!), to vegetables and crafts.

This is very little different to the specialist plant sales that we have been involved with for many years, except that the towns folk are not really used to spending money on plants, whereas jam and bread can have more immediate appeal.

Our particular purpose was to display snowdrops in advance of opening our garden later in the month. Even though we have gardened and grown plants in Faversham (and opened our garden for charity) for over 30 years very few people have any idea what we do, or any knowledge of the wider diversity of plants that can be grown in the garden. And so it seems we have to travel into the town, rather than expecting the town to discover us. We prepared an exhibit of snowdrops, lifted from the garden over the past week or two, and were fortunate that the weather smiled on us for most of the day and we were able to talk to many people about them.

The contrast with the alpine shows couldn’t be greater in that the majority of people find them attractive but are not prepared to spend more than a few pounds on plants. So there is an element of faith in what we do and hope that the beauty of these plants, and their real interest comes across to a few. Snowdrops do have universal appeal and their names can be great fun - as for example ‘Ding Dong’ named by Alan Street of Avon Bulbs (...Avon calling...) or the curious seedling from ‘Trym’ where the outer tepals have taken the form of the inner ones.

But amongst the snowdrops we displayed are truly excellent garden plants such as ‘Magnet’ and ‘Silverwells’, as well as the very striking large flowered ‘Gerard Parker’, named for an earlier member of the Alpine Garden Society. One member of the audience at least seemed appreciative! 

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