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It may be just seven weeks in operation but already a new initiative offering the public an easy way to obtain quality food from local producers has doubled its customers in just one month!

Neighbour Food Newry is hosted by Camlough woman Elaine Quinn and the facility gives customers a safe and easy way to shop. You have a choice of products from over 20 different local suppliers, with new suppliers being added all the time. It has also added another purpose for the iconic Newry Market which at present is closed due to the pandemic.

As Elaine explains "The idea behind the Market is that everything is sustainable, seasonal and ethical and it cuts down on carbon emissions from 'food travelling'. It's better for the environment in the long term and better for our community."

Elaine Quinn, Neighbour Food Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Elaine Quinn, Neighbour Food Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

It's part of a country wide network of local markets selling produce local to that area and virtually everyone involved sells at the same price as they would in their own premises.

Elaine found it difficult working full time while juggling family life with two young children and decided on this change of direction which substituted her full time job for a two or three days a week job. "I needed a different quality of life. 2020 had a big impact on everybody, a tough year and I've two young children and when I went back to work in September after maternity leave I hardly saw them."

How it Works

Elaine is passionate about food and her new journey is also a personal drive to find out what's going on with food in Ireland while giving producers who don't have a route to market through large supermarkets the opportunity to sell to a larger audience. She also believes sometimes modern life is just too hectic to visit butchers, bakers, greengrocers et all so a centralised facility can take a lot of the pain out of the weekly shop.

The Market is producer led allowing them to set their own shops up on the website, add products and descriptions and set prices.

Elaine launches the market online on a Friday, sends out an email to her 800 members and over the weekend lets people know about new products they have, new venders etc on their social media channels.

William Baird, William Baird Butchers, Canal Street, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
William Baird, William Baird Butchers, Canal Street, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Prospective Customers sign up and shop online at WWW.NEIGHBOURFOOD.CO.UK from a Friday right through to Tuesday night.

On Wednesday the producers get a list of purchases and start prepping their meats and baking their breads etc.

Thursday the producers bring the orders to the market.

You collect your purchases from Newry Variety Market on Thursday with the system allocating people a half hour slot between 5pm and 7pm.

Safety is one of the top priorities. The Market has been checked by Environmental Health and gained a five star rating. Temperatures are measured, high risk foods are delivered in cool boxes and only placed in your basket when you arrive.

Products

You can buy fish, meat, vegetables, breads, cakes and bakes, wine and cocktails and more.

The Market offers fresh fish, meat from William Baird's, Newry;  Rosemount Cottage Farms, Portadown and Castlescreen Farm, Downpatrick. Seafood is available  from Sea Source Seafood Shop

Chapel Lane Eggs from Whitecross are also suppliers along with Ard Mhacha Shiitake Mushrooms from Silverbridge.

Elaine prepares her orders at Newry Market. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Elaine prepares her orders at Newry Market. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Also supplying are Armagh Cider Company, Great Northern Larder, Hawthorn Wellness Clinic, Microgreenway, Raw Fusion, Synge and Byrne, The Gluten Free Bakery, Old Schoolhouse Bistro, Ballylisk Dairies,Urban Indian, Fresh Finds, Sugar Drops, The Yellow Heifer and Unglu-d.

Elaine adds "We find as much as we can in terms of Irish vegetables. There's not a lot of Irish veg growing at the moment so we import some things as long as they are ethically sourced."

Not one to stand still Elaine is already looking at another site for a Market and checking out the possibility of doing deliveries.

Any local producers interested in supplying through the Neighbour Food Newry portal should contact Elaine via Instagram or Facebook.

To shop or to find out more information try any of the links below.

WWW.NEIGHBOURFOOD.CO.UK

WWW.FACEBOOK.COM

WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM

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