Cheshire pensioner, 72, proves age is no barrier to business success with a new farmers’ market

By Andrew Nowell, Ben Lugg & Brendan McFadden

A Cheshire pensioner-turned-celebrity is proving age is no barrier to business success by helping organise a new farmers’ market in a historic Stockport landmark.

Christine Munro, 72, from Alderley Edge, set up her business Christine’s Cheshire Preserves two years ago.

She was asked to help set up the new market in the Grade II listed Covered Market Hall, which starts this Sunday and will run on the third Sunday of each month.

Christine said: “I first got involved in farmers’ markets in Cheshire after my friend was affected very badly by the foot and mouth crisis.

“I have always enjoyed cooking for my family but didn’t consider selling anything until two years ago.”

 Christine was catapulted to national prominence when three of her products won awards at The 2010 Great Taste Awards in Earls Court, London.

She has since appeared on The One Show and will take part in an ITV cooking programme hosted by 2009 I’m A Celebrity… champion Gino D’Acampo this year.

Christine hopes the market will bring more Sunday shoppers to the town.

“With Stockport, people have to make an effort to come in and like many other places, businesses have been hit by outside shopping centres,” she said.

“It is a gorgeous market and it would be really lovely if it worked for people.

“You’re not going to a farmers’ market to get products you could get at a supermarket; you go for something different and homemade.”

The market is part of the council-led Stockport Boost initiative, which organises events in the Market Place on Sundays to boost trade.

Last year Stockport Council teamed up with local traders to launch Vintage Village, a clothes and crafts fair held in the Covered Market Hall on the second Sunday of each month.

Council Leader Dave Goddard said:  “It has been a fantastic success so far and we have improved trade in the area massively.

“It’s going to be a real pleasure to work with Christine on this.”

The modern farmers’ market movement has grown significantly since starting in Bath in 1997.

There are around 750 farmers’ markets across the UK, and YouGov polls suggest around a third of households have visited a farmers’ market.

“Customers coming really enjoy the experience of talking directly to farmers and supporting local businesses,” Rita Exner, Farmers’ Secretary at the National Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association (FARMA), said.

“Farmers’ markets bring back an old tradition of buying food.

“Market towns grew up around the market where farmers would bring produce for sale.

“This changed dramatically towards the end of the 20th century, when supermarkets began to dominate.”

Ms Exner said the most important thing for a new farmers’ market is to build a loyal customer base, and wished the Stockport venture well.

She said: “I hope it’s a great success.”

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