Who can join, and how?
Anyone over the age of sixteen with suitable produce to sell may apply to join their local Country Market Society (membership is only open to individuals and not groups).
We always recommend that prospective new Members visit their nearest Country Market during opening hours and have an informal chat with the Market Manager, who will be able to answer questions, advise on what produce is likely to sell and will deal with membership.
This nearest Country Market will normally become the Member’s ‘Home Market’ for statistical purposes, but Members are able to sell their items through any of the Country Markets belonging to the relevant Market Society. Members may apply to join more than one Country Market Society, but must make each application separately.
What are the costs?
It costs just 5p (five pence) to become a Member of a Country Market Society. Once approved, Members will need to purchase an up-to-date copy of the Country Markets Handbook and will also need to obtain appropriate packaging materials, approved Country Markets labels and invoices – Markets/Societies are usually able to help with sourcing these items.
Members are paid each month for the sale of the goods they have themselves produced, less a small commission (on average 10%) which is retained to cover running costs, Product & Public Liability Insurance, marketing etc.
The Country Markets Handbook
All Members must either have their own copy of the Handbook and keep it up to date or have access to the online version via the Members’ Area on the Country Markets’ web site. Trading legislation is complex, especially concerning food safety, but Country Markets Ltd strives to ensure that Country Market Societies are kept informed of the latest requirements. The rules are there for everyone’s protection – by following them, Members can be confident that all possible steps have been taken to ensure that produce is of a very high standard, is safe for the consumer and complies with the law.
Food Hygiene Certificates
All food handlers (and Country Markets Members are no exception), are required by law to undertake relevant food hygiene training. Country Markets cooks must obtain a Level 2 Award in Food Safety in Catering (there is now no requirement for this to be renewed). Your local Country Market may be able to tell you about courses in your area, or a list of independent course providers can be found on the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health’s website (www.cieh.org).
It is highly recommended that all courses are tutor-based. However, where these are difficult to access, online courses may be taken. Due to the large number of online training providers, it is not possible for Country Markets Ltd to endorse any particular course. However, we have recently followed up some recommendations and suggest that cooks wanting to explore the online option consider The Virtual College.
This is still only a suggestion, however, and prospective Members are advised to check that online courses are acceptable both to the Market/Society they wish to join, and also to their local Environmental Health Officers.
Do I have to register my kitchen as a food business?
This depends very much on the stance taken by local authorities, which varies across Somerset. Each Country Market provides its local Environmental Health Department with the names and addresses of all Members who produce food and it is then up to local EHOs to decide whether individual Members’ kitchens need to be registered.