So here’s the thing; I’m on a new journey to meet the people behind Taunton Farmers’ Market Cooperative. Each month I will meet a different producer. This is my first of many & what a great place to start; I got to meet a Founding Father!
A key figure within the revolution: Not the political kind, that’s boring in my opinion, but a much more exciting, fulfilling, and frankly, delicious kettle of fish: The Farmers Market Revolution.
Ok you may scoff at this analogy, which probably means you’ve not been to Taunton Farmers Market, therefore I implore you to do so immediately (every Thursday), come rain or shine, on Taunton High Street.
This is Graeme Wallace from Wallace’s of Hemyock.
In 1999 Graeme attended an NFU meeting, this was the birthplace of the Taunton Farmers Market, and since then Wallace’s as a business has been present every week, initially selling venison then naturally progressing onto pork, sausages and bacon. (In my opinion, progression should always lead to bacon…it’s just the right thing to do.) Excited by the success from the weekly market, in 2004 Wallace’s created their own farm shop and restaurant on the farm premises. Sadly the financial crisis of ’98 brought about the demise of the shop and restaurant, however Graeme persevered with the Farmers Market and that is worthy of celebration.
Set in an area of outstanding beauty, nestled in the heart of the Blackdown Hills, it was an absolute joy to spend a little time up on the farm with Graeme, chatting about pork pies, meat pies, scotch eggs and other market related matters. Let me tell you one of the main reasons why Graeme is currently one of my favourite producers:
“I don’t make small pork pies; I let someone else do that…”
What’s not to love about that statement?! I’m a Yorkshire lass, and I’m not interested in small pork pies either, I know Graeme and I are set to be firm friends already. Graeme’s pork pies are so large, they are even used as Wedding ‘cakes’. Just one ‘giant’ pie can feed 20 people a generous chunk of pie.
Life hasn’t always been about pies for Wallace’s though. Graeme took over the farm 30 years ago, with the focus being on farming. Starting with sheep, Graeme progressed to farming deer, bison and highland cattle.
By now you are probably beginning to understand the kind of person Graeme is, he’s not one to settle, he’s a go getter, seeing a need or demand for certain products, or fancying having a crack at something else. Farming preceded butchery, which was then followed the baking. Graeme will openly admit that he is not a trained chef by any stretch, but enjoys creating culinary delights in the form of pastry based delicacies. I’m confident that anyone who has tried one of the hot sausage rolls, or a hearty slice of pork pie will agree that the exceptional quality of the raw produce that goes into these savoury hand crafted treats, is reflected in the taste and enjoyment of the finished product.
I was fortunate enough watch whilst Graeme made one of his pork pie’s with free range chicken breast and apricots (I don’t know if the apricots were free range too…?!) Have you ever watched someone packing a meat pie? It’s so mesmerising, almost hypnotic to the point where I nearly forgot to take any photo’s. As well as this particular recipe, you could also try a venison and cranberry pork pie or a plain pork pie, meat pies, scotch eggs and sausage rolls. I’d probably suggest not all at the same time, but if that’s the way you roll, then who am I to judge?!
The Taunton Farmers Market has seen stall holders come and go, but Graeme maintains that the key to his Farmers Market success and longevity lies within the range of products. Having initially begun selling only venison, Graeme now sells venison, pork, various pork products, and of course his pastry products, which are fast becoming a Thursday staple for workers in and around Taunton. Graeme can tell you exactly where your goods have originated from, meat chosen with exacting standards of a man who takes immense pride in what he produces and sells. If it’s not been raised and butchered directly on his farm, you can bet your bottom dollar it wasn’t far away; bonus points for the low food miles!
My daughter Flo is particularly fond of the giant scotch eggs. A very satisfied customer here, it may be half the size of her head but she devoured it quickly and efficiently, the dog was highly disappointed.
In summary, throughout thick and thin, through times of prosperity and times of hardship, Graeme remains a stalwart of the Taunton Farmers Market. A man who is such a perfectionist in his farm kitchen, he will not settle for a soggy bottom, or under-seasoned meat and who even packs his pies in such a way that ensures it slices cleanly. Let’s face it, any chap willing to climb up into a flower bed for a decent profile shot, clutching half a giant pork pie, on a rainy day, at the request of a humble blogger is worthy of applause.
One of only two producers remaining from the original Taunton Farmers Market steering group, he truly is one of Taunton’s treasures.
Graeme, we salute you
Don’t forget to check out Taunton Farmers Market on YouTube here 🙂