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Farmers' Market Focus: Sweet Carolina

This week we caught up with Sweet Carolina to find out about how she has made a business out of what she loves.

Hi, could you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Carolina, and I sell sweet treats, small cakes, biscuits, alfajores, brownie bites, and meringues. Everything sweet, everything bite size. At the moment I am based at home in West Dulwich. It's normally a one-woman band but on the busiest time of the year, I can have up to two more people working with me in the kitchen.

How long have you been creating baked goods and what attracted you to the trade?

I always baked as a hobby and because it was my way of expressing my love to my family and friends. I began to trade three years ago because I wanted to make a living out of the thing that I love most. What I love about trading is the relationship with my customers, knowing what they like, or if they have any dietary restrictions, the small chat every morning at the markets, and when they tell me that they loved this or that, because having a treat is a way to indulge yourself and I love to be a part of that.

I put my heart into every cake and you can feel that when you try them. I don’t bake anything that I do not like or I wouldn't give to my family or children.

What does a working week look like for you?

I work every day from Tuesday to Sunday. From Tuesday to I'm in the kitchen by 9:30am to organise the weekly baking for cafes I provide for. On Saturday and Sunday by  6:00am I have to have everything ready to go to the Markets. Monday is my kind of free day.

Friday is one of the busiest days of the week, as I am baking for tomorrow's markets. There is a batch of vanilla biscuits in the oven and my mixers are preparing the batter for the cakes. The kitchen smells delicious, a mix of vanilla, melted chocolate, and caramel.

How do you ensure that your ingredients are organic and fresh?

I have a wholesaler for the main ingredients, sugar, flour, nuts, eggs act. Suma is my wholesaler and all my ingredients are organic and fair trade. For fruits, I use my farmers' markets or the local green shop and I try to stick to what is in season as possible or at least a fair trade product.

My disposable materials are compostable and I do not use or provide any plastic bags to my customers.

What makes trading at the Horniman special for you?

The venue is beautiful, I love being surrender by Gardens even when the temperature is always at least 2 C degrees lower than any other place in London, there is plenty of families and children and the museum itself is in a way a “small family business”, so I feel part of a big family helping other people to have a great day and a good experience.

Do you have anything special planned for the coming seasons?

I try to stick as seasonal as possible, now that apples, figs, and pumpkins are in season, you will have plenty of treats with those ingredients. Apple pie, apple and caramel cakes, pumpkin loaves etc.

Halloween is coming soon so I am in the process of making hundreds of scary biscuits, ghostly meringues, and terrifyingly indulgent cakes. 

Farmers' Market Focus: Pick's Organic Farm

This month we speak to Horniman Farmers' Market regulars, Pick's Organic Farm, about how they run a business that's been in the family for centuries. 

Hi, can you introduce yourselves to our readers?

We're Pick's Organic Farm, we're a family business from Leicestershire, in fact, the farm has been with the family for centuries. We have six full-time employees and ten working part-time. Our whole farm is organic and we farm cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry. Our cows and lambs are all grass fed, and our beef is hung for at least 21 days. 

What do you sell at the Horniman Farmers' Market? 

We cook our homemade 'old spot ' sausage hot dogs, breakfast rolls, homemade beef burgers, farmer's frenzy meat feast (which has a taste of everything), and our challenge burger. They all come served in an organic roll baked by Aston's Bakery. We have the usual condiments along with our homemade 'Mrs Pick's Old Homestead Chutney' made to an old recipe of Mrs. Pick's from our own Bradley apples.

Why is being an organic farm so important to you?

The farm has been in the family for hundreds of years but was converted to organic in 1999. Our reasons for converting to organic were mainly moral ones. Tim's father died aged 48 from an enlarged liver which we believe was brought on by the chemicals which were used in farming at the time and I wanted my children to grow up being able to eat an apple from the tree and a carrot from the ground and see the butterflies in the fields.

Organic farming works with nature rather than eradicating it. We have seen fields with cracks inches wide because there is no goodness left in the soil and crops are grown reliant on chemicals. It isn't a sustainable way to farm and now we aren't reliant on a chemical company telling us what to do in order to make our grass grow we just spread a bit of old fashioned muck around. Organic farming works on good practices, rotation, and a lot of work. Our animals don't need antibiotics to keep them alive, they have fresh air green grass and the freedom to roam.

What work is currently happening down at the farm right now?

At the moment we are busy hay making. We have recently had the sheep shorn and have just had delivery of our goslings and turkeys for Christmas.

What's the best thing about running the farm?

We work every day of the week. Monday is my favourite day of the week as it is sheep day and after the driving and bustle of the London weekend markets it's the day that we bring the sheep in to sort out any problems and it is such a contrast and so quiet.

It sounds very intense, when do you get a break?

We do occasionally take a holiday but never longer than a week. We always stagger holidays with family members and have to work around lambing, haymaking, harvest, and Christmas which are all very busy times when it's all hands on deck.

Farmers' Market Focus: Damaris Designs

Please introduce yourself…

My name is Damaris Copus and I am at the Horniman Farmers' Market as Damaris Designs.

What do you do at the Farmers’ Market?

I grow flowers, trees, fruit and vegetables, and make floral arrangements, wreaths and garlands, using both home-grown and foraged materials. I use pesticide free flowers, working with all the seasons and using natural forms as inspiration

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

Tell us about how you grow your produce?

I grow a lot of my materials in Polhill, Kent, in my woodland edge garden and on my large allotment. I live in Kent half the time, with my family and friends.

The garden is on a piece of land that had been used to park diggers while building the M25. As you can imagine, this left its mark and I have spent over ten years healing the land with massive amounts of homemade compost, manure from our chickens and leaf mould which we make in huge quantity.

I also have a small piece of land in mid-Wales, where our family has lived for nearly 30 years. I also use materials from here, and we mainly use the land for roses, willows, pines and many other trees.

Lastly, I often use flowers and foliage which has been grown by friends and family, or that grow in gardens that I maintain for customers. But strictly only those without pesticides, and only with owner’s permission.

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

When you aren’t at our Farmers’ Market, where can we find you?

I hold workshops teaching wreath-making, and summer workshops teaching floral head dress making. My busiest time is Christmas, making and selling wreaths and holding workshops, but I never have a very quiet time.

Sometimes I take to the road at fairs and festivals and sell woodcarvings made by my family and friends, chestnut arches, hazel plant supports and arts and crafts. I love to pick up interesting artisan objects on my travels, which I use to display plants and flowers, and I often have baskets or pots for sale, depending on where I have been camped and who I have met.

I sometimes design or maintain gardens for clients, and I will only accept work which falls in with my basic principles of natural (and sometimes wild) growing.

I work on my gardens and woods whenever I can; sometimes every day for a week but often just a few hours, 3 or 4 times a week. My garden style might best be described as relaxed and naturalistic, but this still involves a lot of work!

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

 

Why is being pesticide free important to you?

I work in a way that reflects my available time and my principles. Having worked on many farms over the years, I know that biodynamic and organic growing produces great results, but I don't align myself to their movements exclusively. In practice, this means that I would never use pesticide, industrially produced fertiliser or herbicides.

I have great results using only homemade fertilisers: comfrey and nettle juice used sparingly, for instance. I also recycle materials such as tyres to build beds, rather than buying new products. I try to garden in tune with the moon and I am very 'low impact' on my environment in terms of water use, as we collect and store rainwater to use. This careful use of water is in marked contrast to some conventional growers, who are heavy users of both natural and industrial resources.

I have always grown in this way, influenced by my mother who is a great believer in the importance of compost and is a defender of bees. We need insects to feed birds and poison will kill good and bad insects indiscriminately. We are all part of the same living system and I would love to leave a better and healthier world for my own and other children.

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

What does being part of the Horniman mean to you?

I am really thrilled to have the opportunity to trade at the Horniman. I visited the Museum and grounds a few years ago, and was very taken by it. The market is very friendly and the standard of the products available is high.

What do you enjoy doing away from the Farmers’ Market?

I make time to travel when I can and have just returned from a road trip to the flower meadows of the Apuseni Mountains, Romania. It was one of the most beautiful sights that I have ever seen.

On my return I was relieved to find that it had been raining in Kent, and my garden is full of fab blooms just waiting to be picked. Jim had sown the seeds that I left, so with luck I will have flowers for months to come.

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

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