HAVE you ever thought about making your living off the land?

Maybe you’ve got green fingers and like the idea of being a professional vegetable-grower or you’ve dreamt of keeping your own herd of goats.

Or perhaps you love making pickles or pies and wonder if you could do it as a full-time job.

If so Hampshire Farmers’ Markets want you!

The hugely successful Hampshire Farmers’ Markets are looking for more local producers to join them and have a stall at the markets. If you’ve been made redundant or are looking for an alternative career, producing your own local food could be for you.

Local food is a growing area and it could be the alternative career you’re looking for.

According to figures released by food and grocery analysts IGD this year, the number of shoppers specifically purchasing local food has doubled since 2006 and support for ethically produced foods in general has withstood the pressures of the recession and is in fact growing, despite the tough economic conditions.

Anyone who has a stall at Hampshire Farmers’ Market has to meet strict criteria to ensure that everything sold is actually local.

Primary producers, such as those selling their own vegetables, cheese and meat must catch/grow/rear their produce in Hampshire or within ten miles of the boundary while secondary producers, who make pies, jam, chutney etc must include at least 30 per cent local ingredients.

Tania Tirraoro from Hampshire Farmers’ Market, said: “It would be a great business opportunity for people who have been made redundant. The area of local food is really expanding.”

Hampshire Farmers’ Market business manager Alex Handford, pictured inset, added: “We want to give our customers more variety and it’s vital that we keep our local primary producers in business.”

She added that as cheap food imports become less available, due to workers abroad demanding fairer wages and the increasing price of oil, it will be essential that local producers are still in business.

Anyone who has a market stall has to have a stall at two or more markets but it is up to them how often they attend. Some producers attend seasonally, for instance, from May to September, while others attend all year round.

Stallholders pay a booking fee in advance and a stall fee in arrears. For this, as well as their pitch they get marketing and PR which includes being featured on the Hampshire Farmers’ Market newsletter – which goes out to 2,000 people every month – and the website as well as benefiting from the promotion that the market itself receives, with flyers, signs, newspaper adverts and more.