Edinburgh’s farmers’ markets are located conveniently around the city and offer alternative options to commercial supermarkets. This weekend, I visited the markets in order to gain an insight into the quality and variety of produce they offer, and assess whether or not they live up to their reputation.
STOCKBRIDGE MARKET, SUNDAY 9am to 5pm
Bustling, sophisticated, and nestled quaintly amongst coffee shops and vintage book stores, Stockbridge Market is one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems. The market is easily accessible but tucked away within the picturesque, residential area of Stockbridge. The market is notably smaller than those of Grassmarket and Castle Terrace, but is extremely popular with families and young people alike – easily the busiest market we visited. A diverse array of Scottish and international cuisine was on offer, with an impressive range of gluten-free and vegetarian options (the paella is not to be missed). Combined with a selection of stalls selling everything from fruit and vegetables to handmade cards, the Stockbridge market is a most pleasing place to spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon.
LEITH MARKET, SATURDAY 9am to 5pm
Leith Market was an entirely underwhelming experience. A 20 minute bus ride from central Edinburgh, against the backdrop of the Water of Leith, is a handful of stalls, some street food vendors, and few customers; Leith lacks a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. The market itself offers the standard grocery and meat stalls, somewhat ironically placed alongside vegetarian options, with local Scottish cheeses and sweets and the slightly more niche and exclusive selection of dog treats. The only redeeming quality of this market is the award-winning artisan brownie stall, which offers a range of flavours rivalling most Edinburgh coffee shops. All in all, probably not worth a visit unless you are a dog owner or really like brownies.
GRASSMARKET, SATURDAY 9am to 5pm
This farmers’ market consumes the majority of Grassmarket and is the most varied and family friendly market. From fresh fish and meat, to pastries, breads and cheeses, all are locally sourced and most available to sample. Along with the grocery stalls and street vendors, supplying a variety of international cuisines, there is a handful of unique gift stalls boasting intricate, handmade jewellery, unusual notebooks, and original artworks. Located moments away from the Royal Mile, the market is easily accessible, surrounded by a variety of milkshake bars, coffee shops, and cafés, Grassmarket is popular for tourists and locals. Varied, affordable, and intriguing, this farmers’ market pulls in a diverse range of customers and is worth a visit.
CASTLE TERRACE, SATURDAY 9am-2pm
If fresh fish is your thing, Castle Terrace is the place to be on a Saturday morning. The Edinburgh farmers’ market has a vast range of fresh fish on offer, combined with a local and exotic range of meats, such as buffalo or Aberdeen Angus. Family-run stalls, offering produce such as fresh jams and soups, build on the rural feel of the market. A street performer adds to the friendly ambience and appears to be popular with the gathering crowds. Set against the background of Edinburgh Castle, the market has a relaxed, European feel to it. Castle Terrace comes the closest to achieving the true spirit of a farmers’ market, seemingly disconnected from the constant hubbub which defines the city of Edinburgh, yet still easily accessible, just moments away from Lothian Road.
[Image: Molly Little]