Burnham-on-Sea traders speak out after farmers market cancelled 'with immediate effect'

Julie Dean is helping set up a new independent market in Burnham-on-Sea Credit: Julie Dean

There is hope for traders in Burnham-on-Sea despite losing the town's farmers market.

News broke on Monday 22 May that the monthly event had been cancelled "with immediate effect", as it had become "unviable".

Mike Smith, who runs Mike's Pork stall, said the last-minute cancellation of Friday's market (26 May) had cost him "quite a bit".

The 64-year-old has reared Gloucester Old Spot pigs in Woolalvington since taking redundancy from the Royal Ordnance Factory.

"I'm a butcher by trade but I've never had a shop, I couldn't afford one, so I gradually started doing the farmers markets," Mike said.

Mike's stall at the farmers market Credit: Mike Smith

Until this week, he had a stall at the Burnham Farmers Market on the last Friday of every month.

However, 'due to recent trader dropouts' the event has been discontinued, the organisers announced on Monday.

Somerset Farmers Markets Ltd added: "The nearest alternative we hold is in Axbridge on the first Saturday of the month and is an excellent market of around 25 stalls."

The market had become 'unviable'

Local trader Julie Dean, 58, said she believed people in Burnham valued their monthly market.

"People seem to want to have more choice than what the town has got to offer and the products being homegrown makes it more appealing.

"I sell quite a lot of products to holiday-makers and they seem to like that extra something once a month - something a bit different.

"We have lost quite a few really nice shops in Burnham over the years," she said.

A former florist, Julie had a shop in the town centre before crippling bills and arthritis took their toll.

"It was the expense of having a shop on the high street, I couldn’t compete with the petrol garages on the price of their flowers.

"It was just getting harder and harder and I’ve got arthritis in my knees and hands, so I wanted to do something different where I don’t have to stand in a cold shop all day," Julie explained.

The monthly farmers market was perfect for her to sell her bath, body and skincare products, but it did have its challenges.

Mike explained: "Quite often if the weather was bad they would have to cancel because we couldn't put the gazebos up.

"Then there was the need to close the road once a month. We limped along for about two years and eventually they had to pull the plug."

But losing the market gave Mike and Julie the idea of starting their own.

"It will be in the Baptist Church Hall, once a month on the last Friday of the month, and we've got an outside area for extra stalls if we need it."

The first date for Burnham Independent Market will be Friday 30 June.