What started as an idea on a Parish plan and a labour of love for two local community-spirited ladies just over three years ago, Woolton Hill Produce Market, , has become a thriving, bustling hub for sellers of local produce, crafts and gifts and a lively, friendly meeting place for hundreds of local people every month.
The market is a member of local food group Hampshire Fare and always takes place on the last Saturday of the month at the Church Hall, Woolton Hill, RG20 9XF. Regular stallholders include meat, bread, organic vegetables, free range eggs, preserves, goats' cheese and venison and seasonal game.
A host of other suppliers including fish, jewellery, cards, olives and dips, homemade ready meals, ceramics and plants join the market on a rotational basis.
Woolton Hill Village Market in the parish of East Woodhay, North Hampshire is a great example of how local people can come together to create something that benefits the whole community. The objective from the start was a not-for-profit venture that would support local producers, bring people together over a cuppa and allow groups and societies to fundraise.
With over 18 stalls both inside and out, a tea room, cake stall and community table run by a different local charity each month, as well as a free children's craft activity, that is exactly what has been achieved.
The Market started small but it has never been short of big ideas and continues to go from strength to strength. It's a slick operation that has harnessed the skills of many local people whether helping put up advertising boards, setting up the hall, finding new suppliers, designing the website or marketing the event. There are written guidelines for every process to enable new volunteers to come on board and ensure the smooth running of the Market.
Social media has been embraced wholeheartedly with a Facebook page, Twitter and e-marketing to publicise the market as well as more traditional methods such as parish magazines, local radio and newspaper events listings. Attention to detail is what makes the market what it is - you won't find instant coffee being served; it's proper filter coffee in decent corrugated cups! It also has its own identity and logo so that bags and leaflets can carry the market image. It's the little touches that set this market aside.
The work of this dedicated crew of people hasn't gone unnoticed with two volunteers, Ray Pearless and St Bart's School pupil Charlotte King, recently being recognised for their contribution to the Market and local community at Basingstoke Voluntary Services 'Volunteers' Celebration Reception'.
For more details and Market dates, visit www.wooltonhillvillagemarket.co.uk
Photo - image of Woolton Hill market by local artist Sharon Perris