Market with a mission to inspire more eco-friendly shopping launched at Stretford Mall

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A POP-UP market featuring organic cheese makers, music, free bike repairs, vegan dog treats and plant-based cleaning products has been launched at Stretford Mall with a mission to inspire more eco-friendly shopping.

The new Stretford Precinct Market, which will take place outside the entrance to the mall on the last Saturday of every month with the next one set for August 31, aims to encourage people to buy more sustainable and locally sourced products.

It features around 40 stalls and includes a farmer’s market with organic meats and dairy products, a flea market with upcycled goods, and artisan makers creating a wide range of goods from non-toxic, plant-based household products to hand-crafted Palestinian gifts, dog treats and jewellery.

There are also food stalls, live DJ sets for all tastes and ages, a bar, and free bike repairs from Salford-based Bambino Biking.

The market is the brainchild of duo Annika Edge and Heather Garlick, who were behind the unique and hugely successful pop-up cinema event at Stretford Mall called the Spirit of the Essoldo earlier this year.

Heather said: “Encouraging people to shop more sustainably and to cut down on their use of plastics is something that is really important at the moment and something we’re conscious of.

“Increasingly people are realising they need to live a more sustainable lifestyle. What we’re trying to do is to help them engage with it more.

“People are scared of green issues because it can be a minefield. People are worried that they’ll do something wrong. The market is about sharing different sides and ideas, and hopefully it will have a positive effect.”

Heather, who is from Stretford, added: “We’re asking people who come to the market to reuse their bags and to bring along reusable containers for their goods.

“For example we have refillable plant-based cleaning products which are really lovely smelling, and you can bring a container down with you to fill up.

“We want to help reduce the carbon footprint so are offering bike repairs to encourage people not to use the car. There’ll be a big celebration cycle at the end of summer to show how big a change those repairs have on peoples’ behaviour.

“Basically people can bring their bikes along to be fixed for free. Also the flea market promotes the upcycling of old goods and reusing them to help reduce waste.”

Annika added: “For example, one of our stallholders trawls markets in France for these amazing vintage finds. They’re really cool and covetable but it’s also about helping people rediscover beauty in things they might otherwise throw away.”

Among the stalls confirmed for this month’s farmers market section are Todmorden-based organic cheese maker Pextenement, and Stafford’s Keepers Cottage who specialise in organic chicken and pork. The majority of the veg comes from a farm less than 2 miles away and all the veg comes on a 24/48 principle: grown less than 24 miles away, harvested less than 48 hours prior to the market.

There will also be products on sale from a vintage book seller, Shep Shop who work with eco-friendly soap bars and Lush Brownies, infamous for their chocolatey treats. A local organic flower seller who grows her blooms in Timperley is also becoming a firm favourite.

The Stretford Precinct Market has so far proved a big success having been trialled in June and July.

Heather said: “There has been lots of interest and a really good atmosphere.

“People stayed around and enjoyed a pint, catching up with friends. It’s provided much more of a social experience.

“There’s a full bar serving nice cold draught beer and a range of hot food stalls – from pizza to dosa; corn dogs to gourmet ice cream. Once the DJs start spinning some tunes, it can be difficult to think of a nicer place to be.”

Stretford Mall shopping centre manager Gareth Wilkins said: “The monthly outdoor market started with a bang and I’m sure it will continue to go from strength to strength.

“It provides a wonderful opportunity for local farmers and artisan makers to showcase and sell their products, and complements what we already have on offer at the mall.

“In launching the market, Heather was also very passionate about promoting an eco-friendly message and it’s brilliant that there are so many stalls offering plastic-free, sustainable goods.”

Being a small business owner herself, Heather is keen to provide a platform for farmers and artisan makers to showcase their products and talents.

She said: “I feel passionate about promoting high quality locally sourced products and helping farmers sell direct.

“It’s something that’s really important to me because I’ve got a couple of small businesses myself. This is about creating a local economy.

“It’s about making sure people are passionate about what they’re doing, making a bespoke and artisan product, and the money going direct to them. There’s something really special about buying from the hands who created the product.”

Annika grew up in Germany where cooking and markets are an important part of everyday life. She said: “Germany has always been a step ahead in terms of awareness of sustainability issues and organic food.

“Cooking and healthy food is becoming an important aspect of peoples’ lives and as such it is a fantastic way to bring people of different backgrounds together.”

She now works with outdoor arts festivals across the UK, bringing communities together with music and food.

She added: “Farmers really understand the food and you learn from them about the best ways to use and cook it. It’s special to them.”

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