One of the main events that I structure my week around is the Saturday Farmers Market in Skibbereen, where I have a stall from March through to early October. Lots of people ask me if I do other markets as well as Skibbereen and the answer is 'No', for two reasons:
Firstly I am lucky that one of the best farmers markets in the country is so near to me. It's a 20 minute drive for me on a Saturday morning. For most of the months that I attend, there are up to around 100 other stalls (this used to be the case only in the summer months but there were new stalls appearing as early as April this year). Someone once summed up the Skibb market well by saying it's the perfect balance of really good quality local produce from established producers, and the totally random. It's big enough to be able to accommodate both ends of the spectrum and that's what makes it so interesting for the people who attend. I especially love the bread that's available, and locally grown veg, and the way I can get refills for my shampoo and washing up liquid. But one day a lady was selling off her substantial jigsaw collection so I got a good as new jigsaw for €3.
So that's why I don't do a different market...it's got a great footfall, is nearby, and is run in a sensible, simple way.
The reason why I don't do a second market is...it's too much work! It's not like I can stockpile a load of stock ahead of time. It takes all of the day before to get the flowers ready - which would rule out a Friday market. In the height of summer it takes me 3 to 4 hours to pick all the flowers. Often I will pick some foliage on Thursday evening also. Each stem is cut by me with a secateurs so there is a lot of bending over to get to the base of the plant. Everything is then brought into the big shed and placed in buckets of water. I have a helper, otherwise known as 'Mum' who has the job of stripping all the lower leaves from every stem. There should be no leaves below the water line in the vase in a proper hand tied bouquet so this is an important job which can easily take 3 hours.
I usually try to take a 2 hour lunch break on these Fridays as my back can be pretty tired at this stage, and then it's back to the shed to make up all the bunches. I have gotten a lot quicker at this, and really enjoy it when I get into the flow. Again in the height of summer I can have around 30 bunches of various sizes. The last thing to do is load up the van with my table, umbrella etc and leave all the flowers in buckets to be loaded up in the morning. I try to be finished in time for Gardeners World so I can moan about how ridiculously perfect Monty Don's garden is.
So one day like that per week is enough for me. There has to be time for all the digging, weeding, planting etc. as well - plus weddings and other orders that come in. But I really enjoy being a part of the community that unfolds under umbrellas and gazebos early every Saturday morning.