November Market 2017

Wow!  What a fantastic way to wind up the first year of the Balsham Community Market. It was great to see so many new faces together with our lovely regulars. It was so busy, I didn’t really get a chance to take many pictures, sadly.

The Institute was full to bursting with food stalls. We had lamb, lamb charcuturie, wild game, sausages, scotch eggs, sausage rolls, meat pies, Christmas puddings, ice cream, olives, oils, goats and sheep cheese, yoghurts, preserves, flavoured vinegars, chocolates, cheesecake, cupcakes, brownies, bread and fresh produce from the Balsham Allotments.  The First Balsham Girl Guides were selling Christmas biscuits and beaded key rings raising money for next term’s activities.

Out in the party tent, there was silver jewellery, Christmas garlands and table decorations and hand painted prints and cards, wood turning as well as locally made cider and craft beers.

The Anchor Smokehouse fish van also paid us a visit too!

Below are some of the pictures taken on the day:

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Our next market will be:

Saturday 13th January 2018
2pm to 4pm
Balsham Church Institute

Look forward to seeing you again in the New Year!


September Balsham Community Market

Below are some images of the market.  Another busy first half an hour.  Thanks to those who came out in between the rain showers.

Hope to see you again on the 11th November, where we will be stuffed to the rafters with food producers and crafts, with a Christmas feel!


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Balsham Community Market 8th July 2017

We probably had our quietest day at the market so far.  We were down a third on the number of visitors that we usually have.  Mind you, who could blame you! It was a glorious day and there were so many other fantastic attractions going on as well.

Thank you to those of you who do continually support the market.  We appreciate that not everyone can come to every single market however, please remember to use it or we could end up losing it. If our visitor numbers drop, the farmers and food producers won’t return making our market a dead duck in the water.

Also, thank you to our fabulous farmers, food producers and crafters who gave up their Saturday afternoon for us.

However, below are some of the images taken yesterday.  It was a lovely day despite it being so quiet and it was great to see some familiar faces too! 🙂

Hope you see you at the next market on the 9th September!


May 2017 Community Market

Another well supported market this month.  Thank you to those of you who came for coming out and showing your support to our fabulous food producers and farmers.

Again the first 20 minutes was fanstastically busy and it was great to see some new faces too!

Many thanks to our farmers and food producers who gave up their afternoon: The Lamb Charcuterie Company; Radwinter Wild Game Company; Parkins Butchers; Spoonstruck; The Wild Flour Kitchen; Borakis Greek Foods; Nikki’s Homemade; Chocs-Away/CB21 Cheesecake Company; Big Sky Cakes, Plumbs Dairy; The Old Granary Organics; Aspect Cuisine, iBalans Nutrition; Chilli Designs; Phoenix Trading and The Three Little Birds Floristry.

Thanks once again to Su Wright who did some marvellous baking for the Café @ The Institute.

I hope you enjoyed our market this weekend.  Here are some pictures for you.

See you again on the 8th July.

March 2017 Community Market

Thank you to those of you who came along and supported our local farmers and food producers. It is really important to support local small business as well as British farming as they are key to the success of our local economy.

We had a good turn out again this month, however  it did seem a bit quieter especially in the first hour.  I am guessing not having Jigsaw Bakery with us slowed down the initial influx of visitors and of course the Easter Egg hunt at 3pm also contributed to the quieter start.

March’s participants:

CamCattle and Camlamb; The Radwinter Wild Game Company; Parkins Farm Butchers; The Old Granary Organics; iBalans Nutrition; The Cambridge Cheese Company; The Wild Flour Kitchen; Borakis Greek Foods; Nikki’s Homemade; Chocs-Away; CB21 Cheesecake Company; Jane’s Cupcakes and Plumbs Dairy.  Plus LVC Year 10 students fundraiser.

Below are some pictures:

Hope to see you again on the 13th May 2pm to 5pm.  We should have some outdoor stalls as well.

Balsham Community Market 14th January 2017

Another cracking market yesterday with a fantastic turn-out from the local community. Thank you to those who came out in their droves right on 2pm.  The Institute was full to bursting yet once again.

Many of our stall holders sold out within the first 45 minutes, which is amazing.  The Wild Flour Kitchen was the first to sell out in  35 minutes, followed by Jigsaw Bakery.  Chocs-Away/CB21 Cheesecake Company, Janes Cupcake’s and Parkins Butchers more or less were cleared out of stock.

It was fantastic to see so many people supporting our local food producers and our lovely community.

We look forward to seeing you all again on Saturday 11th March. Doors open at 2pm.

Is your New Year resolution to eat better and live well in 2017?

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year and you aren’t too hung over from the festivities?

The majority of us always start each new year with the usual New Year’s Resolutions I must “stop smoking” or “exercise more” “join the gym” “I must eat better this year” or “I need to lose weight” or  maybe this year it is: “I need to get into that dress for the Balsham Ball in the summer”….

So why not start the new year by shopping from the best, local food producers at the Balsham Community market on Saturday 14th January and get your new healthy eating regime off to a great start.

The Balsham Community Market is all about bringing you tasty, local, sustainable, excellent quality, real healthy food.  Whether it be the fresh produce, sustainably raised beef, lamb, wild game or freshly baked breads and bakes using natural, organic, locally sourced ingredients this is where you need to be.


After a festive season of excess, January seems the most opportune time to make a fresh start and try to eat better and live well.   But within weeks, these newly formed plans/goals seem to fall by the wayside “fall off the wagon” so to speak.

Here are some tips to help you achieve your living well goals:

Make your goals specific:
Lose weight, shape up, live well, eat a well, balanced diet. Being successful at achieving your goals is about making them specific. For example: Lose 10lb in 6 months; run the 10k Race for Life; complete an open water 2 mile swim in May ; tone up ready for the summer holiday in August; stop smoking by June, drink less and the list goes on.

To achieve your ambitions make your goals tangible, realistic and have a specific time line.  If you can visualise your goals, taking pictures or writing them down and placing them somewhere were you can see them daily can help to keep you focussed and can only make you more determined to achieve them.


Break them down:
If you have large, long term goals, break them down into smaller chunks so that mountain is much easier for you to climb.  This will help you to understand the smaller goals that are involved in achieving your overall goal.  Remember to also set deadlines for these smaller tasks/goals. Never look at the top of the mountain, concentrate on the small steps to get there.

To get a better understanding, have a read on How to chunk big goals down into achievable steps.

Eat Real Food:
As we are so busy it is so easy to fall into the trap of convenience food which is full of saturated fats, sugar and salt. Keep meals simple by eating recognised vegetables and meats. If you don’t recognise it, your body won’t.

Also try smoothies, they can be stuffed with lots of vegetables and fruits giving you that boost that will fill half your plate.


Get in the kitchen and make your own tasty meals:
Cooking from scratch can take some planning.  Find some simple receipes that don’t take much time to make.

There are also some great meal planning resource sites which can help you batch prepare the components o your meals, recycling leftovers through the week.

The Love Food Hate Waste site will help you to plan meals more effectively, get your portions right to make the most of the food you buy.


Need Help?
There are plenty of resources to live well and eat healthily.  The British Nutrition Foundation  outlines 8 tips on how best to keep healthy from exercise, what foods to eat and keeping hydrated.

The NHS Live Well site can give you advice on the new alcohol guidelines; sugar: how it affects you and ways to cut it down; stopping smoking; Couch to 5K – a running plan for beginners and a weight loss programme

Weight Wise provides advice on eating well and setting those all important goals.


Look out for quick and easy seasonal recipes and give them a try.  For now, stock up on tasty, seasonal, great food from the Balsham Community Market next Saturday.


Balsham Community Market Dates for 2017:
14th January, 11th March, 13th May, 8th July, 9th September and 11th November.

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The First Balsham Community Market Saturday 12th November

Oh wow!  What a fabulous afternoon!  It was great to see so many happy, smiley faces.

Even though the weather may have given you some second thoughts about venturing out, many of you made the cold and wet journey to come along and support the first ever Balsham Community Market on the 12th. I have never seen the Institute so full.  Just an hour in and it was full to bursting.  At one point, you could hardly move.

Hee, hee, we even had a surprise visitor!  A blackbird decided to get in on the action and flew in through the front door. After a bit of toing and froing and trying not to make him even more frightened, he eventually let himself out.

It certainly seems our first market was a very successful one too, with lots and lots of happy visitors and many of the food producers sold out very quickly. It outweighed my expectations. I could not believe how busy it was and the atmosphere in the Institute was incredible. In fact, the Institute scrubbed up quite well with lots of fairy lights, Christmas decorations with delicious smells permeating from the café kitchen.

We had 12 farmers and food producers who gave up their Saturday afternoon to bring us their produce and homemade goodies.  We had a range of meats, ice creams, savoury foods, sourdough bread, Greek food, homemade preserves, chocolates, fudge, cakes, fruit juices, bird food and feeders and plenty of orders being taken for Christmas deliveries.

img_20161112_132332927Susan Wright ran the Café and it proved to be very popular.  Su served up yummy scones for cream teas, Gingerbread men, all-butter shortbread, toffee apple cake, gluten free lemon curd cake and triple chocolate tiffin, as well as tea and coffee.

If you did make it along, I hope you enjoyed the first community market and will come as a regular visitor to support these bi-monthly markets. We need to have a regular flow of visitors to secure the market’s future. Hopefully the buzz will entice you to come to our next market in January and continue to do support it.

A fantastic job and I really enjoyed the market.” “…great produce, so looking forward to the next one.”  “Get there early!

“There was something for the whole family at the community market! The wide selection of produce meant that we all went home with some goodies. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the coffee shop where the cakes were first class. What a lovely atmosphere and just what Balsham needs. More please!”

“It was a great success and so very well presented.  The fairy lights added a real touch of festivity to the hall and the tea and cakes section was lovely and very welcome for many of the visitors.  It was brilliant that so many of the villagers chose to respond to your advertising and come out in force.  I actually felt part of a community!“ says Anne Borakis, Borakis Greek Food.

“What a lovely day with so many local friendly faces.  Myself and other stall holders attend regular Farmers Markets but we all agreed along with our customers this felt like a real community market with a good mix of essentials and treats. We are all looking forward to the next market on the 14th January” Glynis Hanlon, Chocs-Away

If there is anything you would like to see at forthcoming markets or if you have any ideas or comments, please get in touch via email:

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank our helpers who did a fantastic job manning the tables or helping Su in the café.  Thank you for giving up your Saturday afternoon, it is very much appreciated.  Thank you also to The Black Bull and Plumbs Diary for sponsoring the larger advertising boards.

The Balsham Community Market will run every second Saturday of every second month so the next market is Saturday 14th January 2017 at 2pm to 4.30pm.  Please note the earlier closing time for January.

At the January market we look forward to introducing some new food producers.  Do keep an eye out for regular updates via Facebook

See you at the next market on the
14th January 2017! 

In the meantime, here are some pictures from the Balsham Community Market.

Summer on the Allotment

Summer!  Where has it gone? Did we even have one?  Oh hang on, was it that one baking hot week in July?  Well, to be fair, it hasn’t been too bad this far, August is shaping up quite nicely.  Perfect for the summer holidays.

The British summers are so unpredictable these days, you never know what the weather is going to do. The big question first thing in the morning during mid-summer: what do I put on each morning?  Do I drag out my shorts with glee and a shudder of excitement?  Do I need to hunt in the bathroom cupboard to find the sun screen lurking in the darkest corner hoping to see the light of day? Or will it be *sigh* a jeans and jumper day?

The seasons are not what they were. Nothing seems gradual anymore.  Springs, which are enormously anticipated after a long cold,wet winter, seem to be short-lived. They can be wet and cool with the odd really hot spell of a day or two, then its back to cooler weather. Summers are lets face it, are four seasons in one day. And the winters are long, extremely wet and mild.  No wonder gardens and allotments get confused. Although, I do love the autumn: changing of the colours, the slow, golden, slanting light streaming through the trees and countryside giving us that fleeting feeling that summer is coming to an end and the farmers and allotment holders getting in their seasons harvest. I do ask myself, I wonder if the seasons are changing, are they getting later?

Yeah we’ve had another year of topsy turvy weather. We had lots of rain early in the season – which filled up my water butts nicely – followed by three or four days of glorious warm and in some cases baking hot sunshine then followed by down pours, thunderstorms and a few more days of it being overcast with showers (and topped up my butts again after being drained from the recent heat wave) and feeling slightly cooler.

He, he don’t we love talking about the weather 😉

But with all of his changeable weather my crops at the allotment have grown like crazy along with the weeds after a very slow start. Mind you I didn’t start sowing to May as no point sowing any earlier as seeds just don’t germinate they end up rotting away or end up as the local nightlife’s meal.  Slugs and snails have been loving the warm and wet too. After feasting overnight, they leave slime trails all over everything and munch their way through my young seedlings and flowers which are already struggling through the elements.

With the weather looking like it is a bit more settled and the vege and fruit are coming along nicely and starting to put on some good growth and the allotment is looking great, we go on our annual holiday up to Scotland for two weeks.  Not really the best time to go… Upon my eager return to my allotment, I am always greeted by an unruly, overgrown jungle of couch grass and horsetail and other weeds along with giant marrows which are courgettes in disguise, humongous beetroot, bolted lettuce and spinach.

DSC02884However, this year, I was plesantly surprised!  It looks as though it had been fairly dry – my water butts were still empty and I didn’t come back to a jungle.  I didn’t have to spend hours hacking my way through the weeds, troding on the slugs and snails hiding the coolness of the damp over growth.  Not to many marrows or football sized beetroots either.  My seedlings that started to germinate before leaving were still alive albeit not growing all that quickly, they were desperate for a good drink.  The flowers – sweet peas, rudbeckias, cosmos, marigolds and calendula were looking spectacular. It was all good.  It meant I could enjoy growing rather than firefighting the weeds!  The drier weather does have its perks in the growing season.

August and September is the time of the year most of us allotment holders have an abundance of fruit and veg. Pumpkins and butternut squash are swelling nicely, cobs on the sweetcorn are forming, late sowings of beetroot, runner beans and courgettes still growing strongly. Sometimes we wonder what to do with our gluts apart from making jams and jellies, chutneys, soups and freezing.  This year I am going to give making vinegars and pickles a go.  I have found a couple of recipes: a fruit vinegar and a pickle, below, which I will give a go this year.  I came across these receipes in my latest Gardeners’ World.

Sweet Strawberry and Basil Vinegarstrawverry

500g Strawberries
12 large, fresh basil leaves
600ml Cider Vinegar
350g granulated sugar


  1. Hull the strawberries and wash them in cold water, drain and allow to dry on some paper towels, then add to a large container with a lid.  Tear the basil leaves over the strawberries.
  2. Pour over the cider vinegar making sure that the strawberries are completely covered. Allow to steep for 7-10 days, covered in the fridge turning the fruit each day until the juices are drawn out.
  3. Strain the mixture through muslin sitting in a sieve or a jelly bag, reserving the liquid. Add the liquid to a saucepan with the sugar and bring to the boil. Boil for 5-6 minutes stiring the sugar until dissolved. If any froth appears, remove it with a slotted spoon.
  4. Using a funnel, transfer to steralised bottles with a rubber seal.

The vinegar will keep for up to six months in a cool place or the fridge. Keep out of direct sunlight to prevent the rich red colour from fading.

Goes well with game dishes, salads as a dressing, summer cocktails and poured over pancakes or pavlova!

Pickled Cucumber

1 large fresh and crisp cucumber (to withstand the pickling process)
3 tablespoons of sea salt for sprinkling
300ml white wine vinegar (I use Aspalls)
300g sugar
2 teaspoons pickling sauce
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
fresh dill


  1. Wash the cucumber well, then cut into thin slices.  Layer the cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with the sea salt. Allow to stand for 2-2.5 hours or until the cucumber no long releases any juices.
  2. Place the vinegar, sugar and spices in heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil Add the sliced red onion and a handful of chopped dill. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the salted cucumber slices gently and then drain and rinse under plenty of cold running water. Keep turning them over with your hands to make sure the cucumber at the bottom of the sieve is rinsed as well.
  4. Pack the cucumber into preserving jars. Pour the vinegar over the cucumbers making sure you get plenty of the spices (might not need all of the vinegar). Fill to the brim with liquid, then seal tightly. Place in the fridge and allow to mature for about four weeks before opening. Unopened they will keep for 3-4 months.  Once opened the cucumber will keep for three months providing it is covered with the pickling liquid.

Serve with smoked fish, potato salad or roast pork.


Recipes Courtesey of Gardeners’ Word