orton farmers’ market
On Saturday December 12, I had the opportunity to visit the Orton Farmers’ market on the third day of my two-month walk across the constituency. It was great to meet local farmers and shoppers, and to see the range of high quality food produce from Cumbrian farms. Penrith and the Border is really leading the way for the future of rural economic development – over 20% of the population are self-employed – which is one of the very highest figures in the country. I met some incredibly hard-working and creative small business owners in the Orton market, who were attracting shoppers from well-outside the county. We need to make sure these businesses are given the freedom and the support to prosper.
It’s also striking how much effort and energy is invested in making the local community a good place to live, and how welcoming these villages are to visitors. Every day of my walk teaches me more about Cumbrian hospitality. On Friday, I was invited in for lunch in Newbigging; the head of Ravenstonedale parish council walked up the hill to keep me company, a fourth person offered me a bed in Orton and at dusk outside Rysbeck another lady shouted ‘not far now’. The next morning, my lunch-companion was at the magnificent Orton Church, my walking companion was singing in the choir, my evening host was serving mince-pies and the last lady was in her formal dress as a vicar, introducing the Bishop of Carlisle. The choir and congregation were drawn from thirty miles of Cumbria. The Orton Farmers’ Market was not a just a great demonstration of Cumbrian enterprise but also a wonderful symbol of the community coming together, working together and showing hospitality to all.