For many small-scale food producers, festivals and markets are the mainstay of how they do business. KATHARINE CAPOCCI chats to two artisan bakers
SCONES piled high and tempting artisan breads and cakes on display, it’s small wonder Heather Foggon was doing roaring trade when I caught up with her at her impressive-looking food stall.
The stall in question, laden with fresh bakery produce, was housed undercover in a marquee at the paper’s Taste of the County food and drink festival at the Northumberland County Show in Corbridge.
And Heather had been working the nightshift, making sure she was well stocked for the many thousands of foodies who descended on the tent that day.
“I’ve brought about 700 scones and 200 loaves of bread. In scones alone I used 51 kilos of flour and 27 pints of milk and about 15 dozen eggs.”
Farmer’s daughter Heather, 51, is the powerhouse behind her one-woman business The Chirnells Farmhouse Kitchen, which she runs from home in Thropton, Northumberland.
Her giant scones, priced at 50p each, were hugely in demand, especially the cheese, cheese and onion, and fruit flavours. Her full range includes 18 different varieties.
And her delicious sourdoughs were bestsellers in the bread department. Although it has to be said, the hand-made coffee and walnut cake, carrot cake and treacle scones were also going down extremely well.
It’s undeniably hard work for one-man-band producers like Heather, who rely on food festivals and markets to sell their produce.
Heather is a well-known face on the market circuit, but she finds it an extremely rewarding way of doing business and likes catching up with old friends.
“I sell through the markets and food festivals. I get two weeks off a year.
“I was at Bamburgh yesterday at a country fair and I sold out of scones, it’s Seahouses tomorrow at the market, next week it’s a mini market at the Metrocentre. I work a lot in Edinburgh as well.”
She is at Hexham farmers’ market on June 9 and 23 and back at Seahouses market on June 17. “People can email me too and I leave the produce in the porch.”
She adds: “It’s not all about baking. It’s meeting people, seeing old friends. It’s been great here today. It’s the first time I’ve had a stall in the Taste marquee, but things are selling and the atmosphere has been great.
“I operate out of my own farmhouse kitchen. I’ve got six ovens in the kitchen.”
Heather used to run a coffee shop with her mother in Rothbury, but sold the business 12 years ago. “I had a year off and then I got bored and people kept asking me to bake cakes and telling me I should do the farmers’ markets.”
So that’s how she started out again – and has never looked back.
More info on www.thechirnellsfarmhousekitchen.co.uk