Surbiton Farmers’ Market will return next Saturday October 17, seven months after closing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The monthly market will receive a community grant of £2,356 from Kingston Council to aid a socially distanced reopening on Maple Road.
Open-air markets have been able to open in England since June 1, but spacing restraints have so far prevented Surbiton’s market from returning.
Kate Berry, who oversees Surbiton Farmers’ Market communications, said: “Bringing Surbiton Farmers’ Market back has been more complicated than most open-air markets.
“We normally operate on the pavement of Maple Road and we just couldn’t operate at a safe social distance in our regular spot.”
Organisers have been working with local councillors since June to allow the market to operate safely.
“As with lots of things, plans and budgets take time to come together but we’re absolutely delighted that October is happening,” said Berry.
Plans laid out by Kingston Council state that Maple Road will be closed on market day for the next year to facilitate social distancing. The market takes place every third Saturday of the month.
The council’s funding will the cover costs of a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order and implementation of a Traffic Management Plan required to close the road.
The reopening will act as a trial run with measures in place to ensure the safety of stallholders and attendees.
“We’ve conducted a COVID-19 risk assessment to make sure we have everything in place to operate safely and our volunteers and stallholders will be adhering to public safety guidelines for outdoor markets,” Berry said.
The market has only opened once in 2020, in January, as Storm Dennis forced it to be cancelled in February.
Supporting local charities
It has become a community staple for Surbiton residents, offering an opportunity for farmers and local businesses to sell their produce.
The market has also helped to raise more than £60,000 for 50 local charities since it began operating in 2009.
Every month, one local charity is chosen to hold a stall free of charge, with market organisers matching funds raised by the charity on the day up to £250.
The market will now also provide a food bank drop-off point in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
Produce available at the October market will include cakes, cookies, fresh flowers and cheeses, with 24 stallholders currently confirmed.