Monthly New Forest vegan food market to launch in Brockenhurst
INSPIRED by her flock of rescue chickens, Blackfield baker Clare Ellis is set to launch a monthly vegan food market in Brockenhurst.
The former chef and animal lover became interested in vegan cookery four years ago after volunteering with a hen rescue charity, and has since developed her passion into a new career.
Clare (36) and partner Stuart Moxon share their home and garden in Blackfield with two turkeys called Sage and Onion, two cockerels, 10 ducks and a flock of around 40 chickens.
“We rescued 12 tiny and frail ex-battery hens just over four years ago,” said Clare. “When egg-producing chickens are 18 months old they go to slaughter as they slow down laying slightly and are deemed by the farmers as no longer viable.”
The couple volunteered as part of the transport team with a charity that rescues up to 2,000 chickens at a time. She said: “When we went to the farms we were horrified by the conditions they were kept in. We looked into it more and became vegan – we didn’t want to contribute to the suffering.”
Having always enjoyed baking and making cakes for friends, Clare did not want to miss out on sweet treats and began experimenting with vegan cakes.
“I wanted to prove to non-vegans that the food we eat isn’t boring or just grass,” she said. “I like to think, ‘anything you can do I can do vegan’.”
She launched The Vegan Scullery from the tiny kitchen in her bungalow, and booked a stall at a vegan food market.
Clare said: “We sold out within two hours and I received such lovely feedback I thought, maybe I could give this a real go!”
After taking part in markets across Hampshire and growing her local customer base, Clare launched a website during lockdown selling doughnuts in an array of flavours including Biscoff, lemon drizzle, berry drizzle and salted caramel.
“The business has been going amazingly but I realised there were no specialist vegan markets in the New Forest area,” she said.
“I really began to feel that setting one up would be a great way to showcase some of the amazing local businesses that are creating vegan food and also encourage people who are thinking about adopting a vegan diet.”
The first New Forest Vegan Market will be at Brockenhurst Village Hall on Sunday 18th July, and then on the third Sunday of each month.
“Eventually, it would be lovely to have around 30 stalls, with some variations from month to month. Bearing in mind social distancing we will probably start with around 20 stalls and build up as the restrictions are further eased.”