IN PICTURES: Royal couple visit Swiss Cottage farmers' market

Prince of Wales samples some chesse, while Duchess of Cornwall peruses CBD oil stand

Thursday, 7th November 2019 — By Samantha Booth

camdennewjournal 2019-11-07 at 12.08.58

Prince Charles goes shopping at Ted’s Fruit and Veg 

CROWDS flocked to Swiss Cottage to watch the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall meet stallholders yesterday (Wednesday) as they marked 20 years of farmers’ markets in London.

The couple toured the weekly Wednesday market asking questions about fresh produce including butchers, cheesemakers and fruit and vegetables. Performers from the nearby Royal Central School of Speech and Drama did a flash mob rendition of Who Will Buy? from Oliver! and there was music from Young Music Makers.

The visit comes amid concerns over the impact of the 100 Avenue Road 25-storey tower block development on the nearby area.

The Duchess at the Hempen Cooperative stall speaking to Sophia Lysaczenko and Ben Shulz

Stallholders in Eton Avenue said footfall had dropped since building work began but remained optimistic about the market’s future.

Cheryl Cohen, from London Farmers’ Markets, who led the royals around the market, told the New Journal: “The main thing that has affected it is the building going on as lots of people worked there. That’s what’s so fantastic about today, giving a bit of spotlight to let people know we are here. Footfall has dropped since we lost that building for sure and we want people to know this is the only midweek market with an emphasis on primary produce.”

Camilla spoke to March House Butchers about their free-range produce and how they make the business sustainable.

The Duchess meeting the crowds

The butchers, run by Mike and Heather Belcher, is one of the oldest stalls at the market, having met Prince Charles when he visited in 2000.

Mike said there had been a “little bit” of impact from the Avenue Road development but added: “It’s not as much as people were fearing.”

Prince Charles also visited Ted’s Fruit and Veg, which has been at the market for two decades. Kath Dawson said Prince Charles laughed when she told him instead of using manure on her fields she used the old vegetables instead.

Kath Dawson and her daughter Sophie from Ted’s Fruit and Veg

Prince Charles greeting Quita the therapy cat

Kath, who was at the stall with her daughter Sophie, said the market had picked up over the last two to three weeks but said business there had been “very slow”.

“People predict farmers’ markets as being expensive, in actual fact it isn’t. It’s the freshness that is key,” she said.

Performers from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Cheesemaker Russell Gray, pictured above, from White Lake, was the first stallholder to meet the royal couple, who tried two of the company’s cheeses.

“[Prince Charles] did say it was a little bit early to be too indulgent,” he said. Sophia Lysaczenko, from Hempen Cooperative which produces organic hemp and CBD products, said Camilla said: “Oh, hemp, hemp, hemp” as she came over to the stand.

“She said you don’t need to explain it to me, I know,” she said. “She knew what hemp was and also what the CBD oil can do.”

Camilla at the Bee Friendly stall 

One of Prince Charles’ first greetings was to Camden’s first therapy cat Quita, who caught his attention as he arrived. After about an hour in the market, meeting dozens of residents and donating a tree, the royal couple left with their security entourage.

The Avenue Road development has had opposition from residents living nearby.  The council rejected the entire project in 2014 after receiving hundreds of objections only to be overturned two years later by Greg Clark, the then secretary of state for local government.

This decision led to claims that local democracy had been undermined. Concerns then flared about how construction vehicles would use the area.

The New Journal has contacted developer Essential Living for comment.

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