Where it all began
On a bright but cold Sat April 3rd 1999 twelve stalls were set up in King Edward Street in Perth city centre and farmers' markets were re- born in Scotland.
Perth Farmers' Market, the first one in Scotland was the idea of Jim Fairlie who was becoming increasingly frustrated at the very poor prices he was receiving for his lambs and also at the way the farming community was being lambasted by certain sections of the media as a result of the BSE crisis. His belief that a lot of the criticism was unjustified and that the Government was backing away from supporting the farming community was compounded by a statement from the Agricultural Minister of the time, Lord Sewell who said, “If farmers wish to get out of their present crisis they will have to market their way out of it”.
It was a statement which begged the question, how?
Supermarkets did not deal with individual farmers, exporters dealt with container loads of product and butchers were going out of business on a weekly basis so how did a farmer market his way out of trouble when these were the only options open to him?
The answer came on a visit to France where food is a huge part of French culture and farmers' markets thrive as a result of the French desire for top quality local food that they know and trust.
This inspired Jim to set up Perth Farmers' Market and to try and create that relationship between Scottish consumers and farmers which had been missing for more than fifty years - a relationship which allowed farmers to meet the end consumer and allowed the consumer to get to know and trust the people who produced the food that they fed to their families.
Some of the original twelve stall holders are still here today including Gloagburn Farm, Dalchonzie and Cairn O‘Mohr Winery.
The trust that has developed over a decade is such that the relationship is now a thriving part of not only the community of Perth and Kinross but of communities all over Scotland. The example, helped by the massive support given to Perth Farmers' Market by Perth and Kinross Council, has been a catalyst for farmers all over Scotland to take their produce to the people and start to change the food culture of this country.