Inner-city dwellers find a taste of the countryside

A community initiative to bring a taste of the countryside to inner city Birmingham is becoming a co-operative with the help of Co-operative Futures.

Farmers’ market 24 Carrots started in July last year, and brings around 20 market stalls every month to the trendy Jewellery Quarter.

Following a successful pilot of five markets in 2009, the event is now a regular fixture in Birmingham’s calendar, attracting around 700 shoppers to each event.

But as well as bringing fresh produce to the middle of the city, 24 Carrots has a social aspect. Unusually, the organisers are not the farmers themselves, but people who live in the Jewellery Quarter and work together to create a sense of community and bring an atmospheric and lively event to their area.

The long-term aim of the organisation is to turn a profit, which can be ploughed into less affluent parts of the Ladywood area of Birmingham, which has the highest unemployment rate in the West Midlands.

Clare Sillery, one of 12 committee members behind the venture — easily identified on market days by their carrot-coloured hoodies — said: “We want to take the idea of healthy eating into the wider community. We also plan to produce a book featuring fabulous pictures, anecdotes and recipes.”

24 Carrots celebrated its first anniversary with a birthday carrot cake, a handful of jewellery stalls from the surrounding businesses, and a tombola with prizes donated by stall holders. 

The party was joined by Martin Saunders and Phil Etheridge from indie rock band The Twang, who come from Birmingham and whose second album, released last year, was called Jewellery Quarter.

The group is currently forming the community co-op with support from the Midcounties Society, which is helping members through the process of formally setting up the organisation, and the western region of Midlands Co-op, which is paying the group’s Financial Services Authority registration fee.

• For more details visit: The next market dates are November 20th and December 18th. 

In this article

Join the Conversation