THE winter months are traditionally tough for farmers’ market traders, especially this year as people tighten their belts after Christmas and the recent VAT rise.

So Hampshire Farmers’ Markets are calling on everyone in favour of local food to support its producers in Bishop’s Waltham this January.

And local MP, George Hollingbery, is to give his backing by visiting the market on January 23.

Hampshire Farmers’ Markets continue across the county all year round, visiting Bishop’s Waltham four times in 2011.

Local shopping is very much on the agenda in the town with the community fight against a planning application for a new Sainsbury’s still ongoing. The markets’ producers hope people in Bishop’s Waltham will help make this January’s farmers’ market a lively one by turning out in large numbers, even if it’s just to spend a few pounds on locally baked bread or home-reared meat.

Hampshire Farmers’ Markets’ business manager, Alex Handford, said, “At this time of year we really do need as many people as possible to brave the cold weather and join us at the market. We are delighted that the Meon Valley MP, George Hollingbery is coming out to the Bishop’s Waltham market. He is a great supporter of local produce and we hope to show him everything the market has to offer.”

It’s easy to shop frugally at the market by choosing seasonal vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, cabbage and squash. Game is still in season and regular producers still have an array of baked goods, pickles, juices, eggs, cheeses and Hampshire-reared meat on offer. The market’s producers are happy to offer tips on preparation and ideas for recipes – one of the great advantages of shopping at the market.

Buying fresh and local really does make a difference to the taste of food and what better way to get through the long winter than with a hearty vegetable stew or soup made with ingredients direct from the producer.

For more information about Hampshire Farmers’ Markets, visit hampshirefarmers