6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Hampshire Life today click here

Alex Handford: Hampshire Life’s 2016 Food Hero

PUBLISHED: 11:48 01 August 2017

2016 Hampshire Food Hero Alex Handford with her award

2016 Hampshire Food Hero Alex Handford with her award


With 2017’s Hampshire Life Food and Drink Awards about to launch, Claire Pitcher spoke to Alex Handford, of Hampshire Farmers’ Markets, who won the Food Hero accolade last year, much to her surprise

Last year’s Food Hero award was deservedly taken home by Alex Handford. A familiar face across the county, many people will have met her at their local Hampshire Farmers’ Market. She first started working for Hampshire Farmers’ Markets in 1996 as temporary maternity cover: “I was supposed to be here six months, but I stayed,” she laughs. She’s now business manager, based at Rotherfield Park in East Tisted, where she organises the county’s popular food markets, with at least one taking place every weekend of the year.

Hampshire Farmers’ Markets (HFM) not only fulfils the important role of introducing us to the county’s best producers every Saturday and Sunday, Alex has always shared her commitment to buying local by promoting the way in which it benefits the rural economy. “By coming to the markets and engaging with our producers; finding out how their produce is made and the ingredients they use, customers genuinely want to support our members through the purchases they make and by spreading the word about the quality of ingredients on offer on their doorstep.”

Selling at market is, of course, a major part of being a member of HFM, but as Alex explains: “We’re also here to offer advice, put them in touch with other businesses in the county who might want to buy their produce and help promote them through our own marketing. If our producers are doing well then ultimately we all are. They will attract regular customers at the markets and word of mouth is definitely the route to success.”

Always a smiling face at the markets she runs, her passion is the reason why she was honoured at the 2016 Hampshire Life Food and Drink Awards. “I couldn’t quite believe it when it was announced I was taking the award home. I truly never expected it. To be recognised as a ‘food hero’ feels a little bizarre. I just love our county’s abundance of producers, I truly enjoy spending time with them and introducing new people to them every weekend.”

Alex’s skills don’t end at organising the markets; she’s found exciting ways to bring producers together with the public by organising popular festivals throughout the year. There are two based in the pretty village of Hamble. The first was back in May and the next is on September 2. Following the success of AppleFest last year at Hill Farm, there’s also the Alresford Apple Festival to look forward to on October 15.

“It’s all leading up to our own Hampshire Farmers’ Markets Producer Awards in October,” Alex says. “Where once again we like to turn the spotlight on those of our members who’ve done fantastically well over the last 12 months. This is the general public’s chance to show their appreciation.”

The hard work continues for our outgoing Food Hero: “We have more producers wanting to come to market, I have great plans for our festivals next year and there are regular networking events and workshops to put together.”

How Hampshire Farmers’ Markets got started

Hampshire welcomed its first farmers’ market to Winchester in 1999. Francis Stokes, of Hampshire County Council, discovered Bath’s market and decided, running alongside Hampshire Fare, that there should be a Hampshire farmers’ market.

With help from Mike Smales of Lyburn Cheese and Mike Woodhall, HFM was launched. In 2002, Hampshire County Council gave HFM independence and it became a not-for-profit organisation. The same year, HFM became accredited by FARMA (Farmers Retail and Markets Association), giving customers assurance that markets were affiliated to a respected organisation.

To become a member, producers must meet strict criteria. At least 20 per cent of the ingredients they use must be sourced from the county or within a 20-mile radius. Any produce reared, grown or raised must spend at least 50 per cent of its time with the producer.



Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Tue, 10:18

Some of Hampshire’s best known personalities have revealed what they most love about the county. Here, we compile some quotes from our interviews over the years

Read more
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Events to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death reached a peak in Basingstoke with a statue of the author being unveiled. A colourful art trail also gives visitors a tour of an area she knew well, says Simon O’Neill

Read more
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Deep below the Test Valley, natural mineral water is waiting to begin its journey to tables around the globe. Viv Micklefield meets the royally appointed company bringing about a refreshing change to our drinking habits

Read more
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

August brings us a feast of art, with painters, potters, sculptors and other creatives throwing open their doors for Hampshire Open Studios. Sandra Smith spoke to just some of the hundreds taking part this year

Read more
Monday, August 14, 2017

A successful athlete can be inspired by a hero of their chosen sport, pride in competing for their country, or the support of family. Roger Black is inspired by all of the above, plus his home county of Hampshire, as Bernard Bale discovered

Read more
Monday, August 14, 2017

The issue of travellers provokes strong reactions on both sides of the argument, as was evidenced by a recent incursion in Hampshire

Read more
Monday, August 7, 2017

Interiors editor Carol Burns is always looking for show pieces that offer up the wow factor – and have their own unique story. Enter Hampshire’s Seat Threads

Read more
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Home is where the heart is for illustrator Sam Hiscock and that means Southampton. It has allowed him to learn and grow as an artist and have his work exhibited all over the world, as he tells Sandra Smith

Read more
Tuesday, August 1, 2017

With 2017’s Hampshire Life Food and Drink Awards about to launch, Claire Pitcher spoke to Alex Handford, of Hampshire Farmers’ Markets, who won the Food Hero accolade last year, much to her surprise

Read more
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Celebrities and other famous figures who went to school in Hampshire

Read more
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Chris takes a swipe at hotels which demand his credit card details up front. And as for those automated telephone systems...

Read more
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

England and Wales has 55 High Sheriffs, but only one has had lunch with Michael Jackson. Despite her starry Beaulieu upbringing, Simon O’Neill discovers that Mary Montagu Scott prefers hard work, family and sailing to the limelight

Read more
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It’s challenging, keeps you active and can be played alone, with a partner or family. No wonder women’s golf is on the rise. Kay Walshe, Captain of Hampshire Ladies County Golf Association explains how more ladies can get into golf

Read more
Monday, July 10, 2017

Mumpreneur Kelly Barfoot thinks inside the box when it comes to fresh fruit and veg. She tells Emma Caulton about her mission to spread the word about quality produce, with help from husband and business partner Jon

Read more
Pure Weddings advert link
South West Life advert link
A+ South & South West
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
Hampshire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Hampshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search

Search For a Car In Your Area