Every Saturday my children make a mad dash for one particular stall at the East Oxford Farmers’ Market … and are aiming for one particular prize. The bread hedgehogs made by the Natural Bread Company. They are soft, tasty and eaten while they play and I shop for vegetables. I love the market – last week I supplied an impromptu lunch party with Brainy Bread from NBC (stunning stuff) along with a pot of tahini and veg topped with chilli heaven. The milk sold by the North Aston Dairy is the only milk I feel happy having in the house – as I know that they love their animals. The same goes for Willowbrook Farm’s eggs.
But perhaps the thing I love most about the market is the community of people who gather there each week – and when the sun is out, bring their forage to the playground and settle together with cups of coffee and buckets of chat. It was no surprise to me that last year the market was a finalist in the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming awards … the only slight surprise was that we did not win.
But back to the bread hedgehogs – a few weeks ago William Black, founder of the NBC, asked me about hedgehogs – and I explained how their numbers were in serious decline (as I have said before – conservatively we know that there has been a 25% fall in the number of hedgehogs in Britain in the last 10 years alone … and there is more evidence mounting to suggest that the problem is much worse … see our report for details). Now, William loves hedgehogs – and he made the generous offer of donating 10p from the sale of each hedgehog to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society – to help us with the work we are doing to understand and combat the catastrophic declines.
So if you are in the area on a Saturday morning, pop into the best market in the country and pick up a hedgehog – in the knowledge that you are doing something to help the most charismatic of animals at the same time as having fun! It would be a shame, if in years to come, the closest our grandchildren got to a hedgehog was through bread rolls in a market. We need to do all we can to understand what is going on – and William and his team are helping – so thank you to the Natural Bread Company – and to all the hungry children who keep the support going.
Oh – and here is Pip – with his weekly loaf!