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Emma Ratzer calls for community market in Lowestoft to share a cuppa and talk about town

PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 July 2017

Emma Ratzer, chief executive of Access Community Trust.

Emma Ratzer, chief executive of Access Community Trust.

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At the risk of sounding like I am making some political/ethical statement, which I am most definitely not doing, I can't help but think we are missing an opportunity.

The fruit purchaed by Emma Razter at the farmers' market while on holiday. Picture: Emma Ratzer.The fruit purchaed by Emma Razter at the farmers' market while on holiday. Picture: Emma Ratzer.

Whilst enjoying a holiday in the Mediterranean recently I visited the local farmers’ market - this photo shows what I managed to purchase for about £4.

Now, clearly it’s impossible for us to grow all this unaided and sadly fresh fruit and vegetables cost a whole lot more here (and yes, I realise you will be able to give me all the political reasons for this) but it’s not so much what was available, it was about the sense of community and friendship that such a market provided. I spent a good ten minutes having a conversation and a cup of tea with a lady who must have been all of 90 years old and spoke no English. I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about but she seemed content to feed me her fruit and tea whilst sharing a story about........well, presumably about apricots but I can’t be sure.

The market was a place of human interaction and of course the heady mix of fresh herbs floating in the air made more overwhelming by the heavy midday sun does make one more romantic about the whole experience but, lost in the drama of it all, I got to thinking about our equivalent at home.

The farmers’ markets we have are expensive. I feel like I am being sold a lifestyle, the one that means I need to buy posh wellies to properly experience the transaction of paying £20 for the world’s smallest chicken. And ok, I did buy the wellies and I do buy the chicken but I always leave feeling a bit deflated. Certainly no one wants to make me a free cup of tea and chat about life. (At this point I should probably say that it goes without saying that nothing can be quite as deflating as the £2.50 chicken experience one can enjoy any day at any chain supermarket - that’s just wrong and no amount of political or ethical argument will persuade me otherwise).

So, can we start a community market in Lowestoft? I would really like to buy the potatoes and carrots you have growing in your garden or maybe I could swap you for some of my homemade chutney whilst we share a cup of tea and talk about what we can do to rejuvenate our town centre?

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