The St Hilary Foragers Produce Market was established by Monica Dennis and Caroline Neudegg in 2015.
Foraging was introduced to make use of the surplus fruit that was going to waste in the village e.g. apples and blackberries. Villagers were asked to get in touch if they had any surplus fruits to donate and offers that year were mainly of apples. The bounty that was collected was turned into chutneys, jams and baked items and an event called the St Hilary Foragers Produce Market emerged. Liz and Pete Loch and the Riverside Market Garden, Coed Hills took a stall at the event to sell some of their own produce.
The event was held outside the village hall on Wednesday 30 September - no teas and coffees were sold. £315 was raised.
In 2016 the event was held on Sunday 9 October at lunchtime, after the church service. It was held inside the hall and tea, coffee and cake was offered to make it a more social event. The amount of fruits on offer increased and some members of the community provided assistance by making pies and crumbles with some of the foraged fruits. Caroline contacted Coed Hills who gave their support by offering fruit. In an effort to further develop the event a trader from the farmers market was invited to sell pesto, which seemed to be popular. Liz & Pete Loch provided their apple press and people were invited to press their own juice. Monica tried out baked savoury pies to complement what was already on offer. This was successful as was the soup that both Terence and Caroline provided.
The event was a great success and £535 was donated to the Village Forum that had been established in April 2016
By 2017 the foraging had grown substantially with more variety of fruits on offer e.g. rhubarb, plums and pears. More villagers were generously offering surplus fruits and vegetables and more helped with the baking. Savoury bakes and soup continued. Liz and Pete Loch once again provided their apple press and Vale Cider took a stall. Wider publicity also saw a greater number of people attending from outside the village, Including Vale Tourism. The event was once again held on a Sunday lunchtime with tea, coffee and cake on offer. The success continued and £600 profit was donated to the Village Forum and helped pay for a new notice board.
The Produce Market, now an annual event, has continued to flourish and develop. In 2019 Vale Cider visited once again along with Dove Love Ceramics, and Creative Militia who were selling wax wraps and table wear.
The produce for sale increased with nearly 200 jars on offer –jams, chutneys, pesto, crab apple jelly, rose hip syrup etc. - the majority of which was made from locally sourced produce. Coed Hills made a significant contribution offering fruit from their community garden – for which we are most grateful. And, an increasing number of villagers and non-villagers generously gave their time to bake and make jams. Soup was once again popular with three flavours on offer and the savoury pies continued to be a firm favourite. St Hilary honey was offered for sale – from Glebe Farm and the apple press was once again available on village green for people to press their apples.
The event was marketed widely to attract not only St Hilary residents but also visitors from further afield and as a result, over £1,000 was taken on the day, £780 of which was donated to St Hilary church funds.