Online farmers' markets set up in the wake of coronavirus

Farmers' markets may be starting up again in Cumbria but many of those in Scotland will have to wait a while longer before they can re-open.

The UK government announced last week that all outdoor markets would be allowed to re-open in England. In Scotland, though, they'll have to wait until the next phase of the lockdown easing. A decision on that could come next week.

But some communities have begun a different approach, to allow them to keep on trading during the coronavirus lockdown. In the picturesque town of Peebles there's now an online farmers' market.

Local producers take their goods to a central point, where they're prepared for customers to collect. Orders are taken online in advance.

Credit: ITV News

Handmade soap maker, Christine Blundell, of Soap Matters, says: "I normally sell through local markets. They've all obviously ceased trading and a number of retailers I supplied in the local area closed their doors as well, so it's a perfect opportunity to at least try to serve the people of Peebles. "

Robin Tatler, one of the organisers, says: "Neighbour Food basically is a click and collect farmer's market. There are a number of Neighbour Food markets across the country and we are the first one in the Borders.

"We had planned to set up prior to Covid-19 breaking out but what this has done is really just accelerate our process."

Another online market is starting up in Dumfries.

Most physical markets on both sides of the border have been closed during lockdown, although those selling essential food items were allowed to carry on. But when it comes to reopening, it's English markets that are leading the way

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak visited a market in London last week to mark the English reopening on June 1st, while in Cumbrian towns like Kirkby Stephen stalls are slowly starting to return.

Credit: ITV News

Trader Ian Wood says customers are coming back to his food stall:"It's still quiet but every week there are more and more people coming out so it's just nice to see people out and about."

North of the border, Moffat is hoping to reopen its farmers' market next month, with strict social distancing rules. 2019 was its 10th anniversary and organisers say it's a vital outlet for producers.

"This is absolutely crucial because people in the small food production side of things in Dumfries and Galloway, 90% of them I would say have failed to qualify for any government support at all," says Sarah Burchell, the Chairman of the Moffat Farmers' Market Committee.

Over the next few weeks markets on both sides of the border could be up and running again, giving a much needed boost to this hard-pressed sector. In the meantime, in Scotland, online markets could be the way forward.