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It’s marrows and arrows at market
YOU can buy fruit, bread or just have a chat – and if that isn’t enough soon you’ll be able to have a crack at archery.
The four-month-old Blackbird Leys community market has proved so successful organisers have had to hire extra help to run it.
And it may run fortnightly instead of monthly due to its increasing popularity.
Interviews have taken place for a Leys Community market co-ordinator.
Someone from the estate will shortly be announced with a role to devote six hours a week to help pull together the market.
Co-organiser Christine McDermott said the long-term goal was to become entirely self-sufficient and be as successful as Wolvercote market – the first farmers’ market in Oxford – which turned 10 last year.
She said: “We’ve added about five or six new stalls for the April event. When we were at the drawing board stage it was hard to imagine it would ever be like this. You see people milling about and think ‘they have actually turned up, they’re here’.
“We’ve even been asked if we can get an archery stand at the next one, so people can take part in something like that – it’s incredible really.
“It is down to a lot of hard work from people behind the scenes showing what people in the Leys are capable of.”
Andy Castle, of the Blackbird Leys Allotment Association, said the market had enabled the group to reach out to many more people.
The 67-year-old Greater Leys resident said: “When we really get going it will be even bigger. There is so much opportunity here. It’s all people talk about in the pubs and local community centres.
“We’re having an open day on May 18 and I would encourage everyone to come along to that and the next market to find out how they can help.”
Residents had pushed for a community event for the Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys estates since January 2012. A permanent base at the Barn in Nightingale Avenue was found.
The first event was held in December and more than 100 people went along to browse the 16 stalls.
Funding from Oxford City Council’s regeneration budget of £14,000 and around £1,000 in other grants from funds such as Community First helped it get started.
Heading into the fourth market the number of stalls has mushroomed to almost 30, and it has a cafe and an area for people to sit and mix.
The idea to buy and sell home-grown food on the estate was first suggested by resident Leah Owens in 2011, but plans stalled when she left.
It was taken on by Seeds for Change, an organisation providing support and training to local community groups.