Words by Hannah Tapping
A new Cornish cookbook charts a year at market.
Local markets are experiencing a welcome resurgence, reflecting a groundswell of support for small businesses with their roots deeply embedded in the local economy and community. And, while new markets are popping up all the time, Cornwall’s capital is home to a truly trailblazing local market which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Truro Farmers Market was one of the first of its kind when it was founded by a cooperative of local farmers and food producers back in 1999. The group – including Pete Meudon of Nancarrow Farm, Anne Pengelly of Meadowside Nursery, and John and Jennie Keeler of Tregassow Farm – came together to change the world, or their little corner of it at least. Looking around, they saw the steady erosion of the relationship between food producers and consumers, and a broken food system to the detriment of all. Collaborative action was called for, and Truro Farmers Market was born.
Through a dizzying quarter of a century of societal change, the market has stood firm in its founding principles while evolving to keep pace with the times. Throughout the seasons, food-loving locals, spell-bound visitors, and Cornwall’s acclaimed chefs all delight in shopping at the green and white striped stalls, which pop up on Lemon Quay every Wednesday and Saturday. Without the market, which supports fledgling businesses as they find their feet, some of Cornwall’s best-loved food and drink businesses simply wouldn’t exist today.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary, a cookbook was released just before Christmas featuring stories and recipes which showcase these passionate producers in their own backyards. Local chef Todd Studley was tasked with devising affordable and approachable dishes charting the course of the seasons at market, while taking inspiration from food cultures around the globe and reflecting the diversity of the market today. According to Todd’s fellow chef Jude Kereama, who wrote the Foreword for the book, the recipes “eminently suit the Cornish lifestyle, with a focus on outdoor cooking over live fire, ideas for enjoying the very freshest fish, and nourishing comfort food for those months of long, windswept walks on empty beaches.”
Photography by Stewart Girvan, who is also the market’s Coordinator, celebrates Todd’s down-to-earth cooking, while vividly bringing into focus the people behind the produce. “Working so closely with the stallholders every week, I know the hard graft that goes on behind the scenes,” Stewart reflects. “This book captures the community spirit and passion for great Cornish produce which exists at the market, and we had a lot of fun making it. Plus, as official photographer I got to sample first-hand all of Todd’s delicious dishes, and I can vouch for everything being super tasty!”
The stories of the market stallholders – farmers, growers, bakers, fishermen and many others – are told by writer Lucy Cornes of Cornwall Content, who has worked closely with the market for many years. Lucy explains: “As much as we wanted this to be a useful recipe book which rarely spends too long on the shelf, we also wanted to do justice to the local food heroes at the grassroots of Cornwall’s culinary culture.”
For example, meet David Buscombe of The Cornish Mill and Bakehouse, who leads four generations in baking sweet and savoury treats using flour milled on the family farm. Read the story of Nick Dymond of St Piran’s Pork, whose switch to regenerative farming methods has given his land a new lease of life. And set sail with Chris Bean of day boat Lady Hamilton, who has been launching from Helford for over 50 years and exclusively supplies the market with supremely fresh fish.
The bold colours and eye-catching illustrations of the book and calendar are the work of Becky Hutchens of Stanhope Design. “This was possibly the most enjoyable design and illustration project I’ve worked on to date,” said Becky. “Showcasing delicious food and so many fabulous small producers and local businesses was very satisfying. I was constantly hungry throughout the design process!”
Styling and further photography were provided by Rebecca Lily, who can often be found with her trusty camera at market, documenting the evolving array of produce from week to week and sharing inspiring content on social media.
Truro Farmers Market, The Cookbook is printed locally by TJ Printers in Padstow and a limited number are available initially. It can be purchased at the market throughout the course of the year, and is also available to buy online at cornish-gifts.co.uk.