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How journalist Fiona Golfar accidentally started a Cornish craft market

How journalist Fiona Golfar accidentally started a Cornish craft market

Fiona Golfar’s home in Cornwall from a 2018 feature in House & Garden.

Paul Massey

If anyone had told me a year ago that this summer I would find myself opening a community market in Cornwall I would have roared with laughter at such an unlikely notion. But life is strange – and the lesson I have learned over this past turbulent year is that there is no truer saying than “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

I have been coming to Cornwall with my family for 25 years. In the past few years as our children have grown up, my husband and I spend the majority of our time here and last year we chose to spend lockdown in bucolic isolation. Both our jobs – I’m a journalist and he is a producer – allowed us to work remotely and in between lockdowns I opened a small shop at a local hotel Fowey Hall, which is said to be the inspiration for Kenneth Graham’s Toad Hall in Wind in the Willows. It was a project that spoke to all of my interests; I sold everything from aromatherapy to art, cookbooks to ceramics, cashmere cardigans and woolly socks. All the things I love having around me in my own home and thought other people might enjoy in theirs.

Journalist Fiona Golfar tells the story of her Cornish home

To be honest, I was surprised at the success of The Little Shop. People liked what they described as a return to something that made shopping feel personal. The shop somehow survived the constant openings and closings that so many have endured during lockdown. So when the hotel asked what we could do for summer, I immediately turned to my good friend and close neighbour Cathy St Germans. Cathy was the founder of the Port Eliot Festival who, during lockdown founded a brilliant initiative called Farms To Feed Us, a nationwide database which connects small-scale sustainable food producers to their communities.

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With our fashion designer friend Harriet Baylis we came up with a plan for a bi-weekly ‘Summer Market’, which included all the things she and I share an interest in; from bacon sandwiches to story tellers, basket weavers to bakery stalls.
The hotel jumped at the idea and offered to support the project. There would be no pitch fees for makers, and no commissions taken. The idea has been to bring the community back together after so long in isolation. We want to celebrate coming back together in the (fingers firmly crossed) glorious Cornish sunshine, with large wooden tables groaning with produce under beautiful canvas woodsman’s awnings. The hotel overlooks one of the most famous historic harbours in England and since the 7th Century it has seen its fair share of drama over the centuries (including the fictional variety, it was the home of Daphne du Maurier after all), so where better to celebrate our new freedom?

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We have so many incredible artisans coming to sell their wares, from textile designers and wood carvers to printmakers and potters. There will be antiques, bakery stalls, knitting circles, farmers selling produce, fashion designers and quilt makers. To say this project has brought me unexpected joy would be a wild understatement. It has changed my relationship with Cornwall dramatically.

This has not been an easy time for the farmers and makers, and yet the optimism and excitement and collective support for this project has been utterly moving and inspiring. Rather like the quilter Jo Colwill, founder of the world famous specialist patchwork centre, Cowslip Workshop in Launceston, Cathy, Harriet and I have been weaving together all the talent we have met in this wonderful place we call home, and are so excited to bring it all together. What could be nicer? As our Instagram tag says, ‘Tell the people.’

MARKET will launch on May 30th and be open every other Sunday and run until September at Fowey Hall Hotel, Hanson Dr, Fowey, Cornwall. PL23 1ET. Scroll below to check out some of the stallholders.

Published at Wed, 12 May 2021 09:48:26 +0000