Some time this month, ten years ago, I went to the New Inn with Ivon and our chef for a reflective pint of the 18 month project to date and the imminent opening of The Goods Shed.

We were very excited about the potential of The Goods Shed; to have abundant, piled high local produce available every day of the week, taking Kent’s best and freshest out of the weekly treat and making it a daily staple. To revive a vibrant shopping experience, where the market place was the centre of the community. However, Ivon did flag up a concern, that it could be caught up in one negative aspect of the farmers market movement, which he saw as an exclusivity to the well heeled and the perception of being unaffordable.

It is true that over the years many of our best daily customers have said that they feel frustrated that they cannot impart the value of clean, local produce to their friends who have dismissed The Goods Shed as expensive and as we’ve talked further it would seem people have a varied response to value.

The core ingredients of the market, meat, fruit and vegetables and fish remain competitive, if not cheaper, than the supermarkets, even with their superior quality. The wine stall is great value. The cured meats and cheeses are worth the increased cost per kilo, they are of superior density (100g of Ashmore Cheddar will flavour a white sauce whilst it needs 300g of a processed cheddar) and speciality sourcing or meals to take home created for you by a chef are genuinely worth the extra.

What is apparent is that our daily customers have really thought this through for themselves and made their choice to graze on food!

These are my thoughts – I firmly believe that fresh local produce must have more nutritional value than some flown from another continent or mass produced and then driven across the country. (Seen Jimmy’s Farm where he analysed the DNA of one meatball – the contents came from 179 animals!) I also believe that if you eat nutritionally well then you feel fed, your body stops asking for more and you save on food volume, therefore cost and waist line!

Last nights supper in my house for 5 – lamb patties with grated courgette, roast tomatoes, yoghurt and rice. Cost £11.34, that’s £2.27 a head – no hunger an hour later.

Now 10 years on from our opening, The Goods Shed purpose prevails more than ever – we do have to support our local economy and research demonstrates that buying from independent retailers is most effective, ones that provide local produce even more so. -We do have to address our packaging issues, filling up a bin liner just to unpack shopping feels repulsive.- All too often our complaints to the larger chains are not heard, in smaller businesses the customer has a much louder voice. Businesses like ours, small and independent, offer a personable, community experience that I believe enhances everyones general well being. The Goods Shed is a platform for many who now run their own businesses and work for themselves, more general well being.

There is one hitch though, to get the best value from The Goods Shed, cooking is required, the restaurant was there, apart from the obvious, to give ideas to take home.

We would really like your feedback, to help us move forward through the next ten years.