And twice a month Gibside offers free entry to a thriving farmers’ market, thus giving everyone the opportunity to support a plethora of top quality local producers.
The farmers’ market was first launched in 2008 as a monthly venture. But it proved so popular with food lovers who were flocking in their hundreds, that it became a twice-monthly event.
Now the Gibside Food and Craft Market is held fortnightly on the first and third Saturdays of the month. Alongside the stallholders there are regular tastings, food-related demonstrations and music and hands-on activities for the kids.
The first market of 2012 gets under way tomorrow between 10am and 3pm.
Around two-thirds of the stallholders sell local, seasonal food and drink, such as Strothers’ Sausages, made from rare breed pigs bred only a few miles from Gibside up the Derwent Valley at High Spen, or Strathmore Hebridean Lamb from Medomsley.
There is also a range of quirky handmade crafts on offer from local artisans and artists.
The aim is to provide a real alternative to the supermarket that reduces food miles and offers fresher, high-quality produce direct from the North East people who grow, breed, rear and make it.
The food is cheaper than you expect. It is a misnomer that local produce is more expensive than can be bought on the high street.
By cutting out the middleman, it is often substantially cheaper, especially when it comes to fresh, seasonal produce. There is also the added benefit of being able to meet and chat to the very people who create the food that goes on your plate.
It is estimated that the Gibside Food and Craft Market boosts the local economy by more than £50,000 a year.
It’s fantastic news for local producers as well as shoppers, who may not realise what good value markets like Gibside are.
In the case of Gibside it offers so much more, though: a great family day out. Beyond the pay barrier is a magical landscape waiting to be explored.
The estate is open throughout the winter, so if you want to blow away those festive cobwebs and get the new year off to a stimulating start, head along to tomorrow’s food and craft market, stock up on local produce and find yourself a tranquil spot to eat it among the elegant buildings and ruins or wildlife-rich woodlands.
Gibside, near Rowlands Gill, Burnopfield, Gateshead, NE16 6BG, 01207 541 820, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gibside
Gibside is open to the public seven days a week from 10am to 4pm in winter.
The Gibside Food and Craft Market is free to attend and is held on the first and third Saturday of every month between 10am and 3pm.