Queen of the Suburbs and fictional home of 1970s sitcom The Good Life, Surbiton is often a byword for suburban living. But this unique community initiative has brought the countryside into the town.
Since it began in October 2009, Maple Road Surbiton Farmers’ Market has become an essential meeting point for the community as well as a great place to shop, while helping to raise more than £50,000 for local charities and good causes.
On the third Saturday of each month, Maple Road welcomes 26 farmers and producers selling wonderful fresh produce and speciality foods. From locally grown fruit and vegetable varieties rarely seen on the high street to artisan bakery products made just down the road, our aim is to provide consistently high quality and good value.
We also run a programme of special events to attract and inform visitors, and support stallholders and local businesses. And we’ve introduced a programme of summer music to make the market atmosphere even more enjoyable for shoppers, while providing aspiring local musicians with exposure and experience.
Started by a small group of volunteers, the market has also brought other groups together to create a strong feeling of community and connectedness. Schools, churches, residents’ associations, the WI, Scouts, charities and arts groups enjoy swapping ideas and working together.
The market has a positive impact not only on Maple Road but on Surbiton and the area as a whole, by encouraging people to shop locally. It’s also created an environment that visitors enjoy and where they may ultimately want to live and work. Several start-up companies have been spawned and other markets have set up in the surrounding area based on our model.
We believe we’ve created a very special atmosphere on market days and our customers agree. Our survey found that almost all (98%) rated their experience of the market as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ and still more (99.5%) said the market had had a positive effect on the town.
Here’s a selection of the comments we’ve received from the community:
'Wonderful initiative', 'Brilliant’, ‘A real treat for Surbiton', ‘Wonderful atmosphere, great way to spend a Saturday morning', ‘It brings life to Surbiton and a lovely community spirit. Well done’, ‘The market has been a huge success and really brought Surbiton together’, and simply 'Love the Surbiton Farmers’ Market'.
We’re proud that the contribution the market makes to life in Surbiton has also been recognised with several awards. In 2011 we received the Commitment to the Community Award in the Kingston Business Awards and reached the final of the national Farmers’ Market of the Year Awards 2012 at our first attempt. We were also awarded Best Food Retailer in the 2012 Time & Leisure Food & Drink Awards. And in February 2013 we went on to take the top award, winning the prestigious FARMA Farmers' Market of the Year.