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How to Shop Local

Experience the joy of independent Christmas shopping in Kent. From festive food for feasting to gorgeous gifts for giving, shop knowing your purchases will truly make a difference.

The benefits of shopping locally are infinite. From stimulating the local economy, creating jobs and fostering a sense of community to being more environmentally friendly and providing one-of-a-kind products, the positives are truly endless. As we come to the final days of a year that has hit the global economy hard and seen the rise of stomach-churning phrases such as ‘cost of living crisis’ and ‘post-pandemic recovery’, we face a brand new year that we must take on headfirst to make things that little bit better and leave those irritating phrases in the midsts of the past. 

But, before we sign and seal 2023 off with an alleviating rendition of Auld Lang Syne, there is one joyous way we can already contribute towards a better new year, and a much merrier Christmas. By making a commitment to shop local and support small businesses this festive season, you cycle money back into your community, reduce your Christmas carbon footprint, help support local people and their jobs, while ensuring that whatever you’re buying is almost always a whole lot better quality than something you purchase at a big chain or supermarket. This not only includes gifts both made and sold by local creatives, but also encompasses the glorious Garden of England’s delicious fresh produce itself. 

In a world that is striving to be more sustainable, green and eco-friendly, never before has eating local been so important – especially at this annual time of great feasting. With a growing population that shows no signs of slowing down, sustainable agriculture and being able to track the supply chain back to the point of origin to evaluate ecological processes has become increasingly more crucial in a world where such practices so greatly benefit the planet. If you need any more persuading, lessening the mileage that food travels before it arrives on your plate is a largely contributing factor when it comes to helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and plastic packaging, as well as contributing towards improving our carbon footprint as a whole. 

And where, we might ask, is better to be a locavore (person that eats locally grown food) than the good old Garden of England itself? All year round, us Kentish folk are spoiled for choice by the bountiful array of marvellous fruit, veggies, fish, meat and other crops all carefully grown and reared by the seasoned farming extraordinaires that call this county home.  

That’s why we at insideKENT know that Christmas shopping can be kept entirely local and this means that you will have the tastiest, most wholesome Christmas with the most thoughtful and cherished gifts to give. From sourcing your entire Christmas dinner – from canapes through to after-dinner chocs – to your New Year’s party outfit and special presents for all the family, here is our guide to keeping it Kentish this Christmas. 

Produced in Kent – Strive to Buy Five

Helping folk to be Kentish champions all year round is trade organisation Produced in Kent. This Christmas, they are encouraging shoppers, from both near and far, to ‘Strive to Buy Five’. Dedicated to supporting and promoting all types of food, drink and craft businesses in Kent, Produced in Kent provides vital support to a diverse range of businesses which in turn provide valuable employment opportunities throughout the county and are at the economic heart of our rural communities.

We spoke to CEO, Floortje Hoette, about the Strive to Buy Five campaign: “This year our message to everyone is ‘Strive to Buy Five’ locally produced presents, or festive food and drink items. From handmade candles and soap bars to locally distilled gin or sparkling wine from a local vineyard, Kent producers will have something for everyone. If everyone buys five products from Kent this year, it will help to support and grow local business in what has been a very challenging time for independent producers.”   

Produced in Kent has gathered ideas and offerings from its hundreds of members and compiled them into one handy Christmas directory. There are four sections covering ‘Christmas Food’, ‘Christmas Gifts’, ‘Eat, Drink & Stay’ and ‘Experiences’ on their website. You can check it out at www.producedinkent.co.uk/christmas-directory to be inspired, or take a look at insideKENT’s How to Hamper feature on pages 60-62, which features lots of lovely Produced in Kent Champions.

“You don’t have to spend big to gift local,” says Floortje. “With cosmetics from Romney Marsh Wools from as little as £6 and candles from Pure Wix at £15, there are some fantastic options for a small budget. For those with a deeper wallet, you might like to consider a bottle of Blanc de Blanc from Gusbourne or a bottle of Lavender Gin from Castle Farm. If an experience gift will be more appreciated, there are lots of options from local tasting flights for the grownups to quiz trails for the kids or a Brogdale Orchard Pass for the family. And for those who just can’t decide; a Champions membership from Produced in Kent is the ultimate gift solution at just £25 for an annual membership with exclusive offers and money off different products and experiences every quarter.” 

A Kentish Feast – Where to buy your Christmas ingredients and gifts for foodies 

insideKENT recommends 

Pre-ordering your meat from your local butcher or local online delivery service. The same goes for your vegetables – help them keep on top of the rush by pre-ordering from your local farm shops or a veg box delivery company such as Foodari. 

As well as our roast turkey with all the trimmings for Christmas Day dinner, anyone will be delighted to receive treats such as chutneys for cold meat sandwiches, unique teas and coffees, and lots of little sweet treats from local fudge makers and chocolatiers. The yuletide indulgence doesn’t stop there either! Christmas Pudding or Gingerbread flavoured ice cream from Simply Ice Cream will be the perfect lazy pudding to complete your festive feast. So head out to one of Kent’s fantastic farm shops, stocking everything from brilliant Brussels sprouts to the perfect panettone. 

insideKENT’s Top Three Picks for Local Food Shopping

Macknade, Faversham

A true foodie haven with everything you could possibly desire for a delicious Kentish Christmas at its very best. Home to a beautifully stocked farm shop, delightful eatery, their very own butcher, a delicious deli counter with cured meats and olives galore, and even a fabulous florist for those yuletide decorations. Expect a diverse range of vibrant local produce and upmarket international (predominantly Italian) products that honour the heritage of owner Stefano. This includes all the Italian Christmas cake favourites – so there’s no better place to purchase a panettone. Chutneys, jams, pickles and preserves shine like jewels on the shelves, and rest assured your Christmas cheeseboard will be no less than magnificent if you buy your fromage here. The helpful and knowledgeable staff, all experts in their field, will help you make those difficult decisions – this includes the professional butchers and designated wine shop. Artisan snacks perfect for whipping out as impressive nibbles are also stocked at Macknade – so if it’s quality and taste, with a lot of Kent and a little bit of Italy thrown in – there’s no place better. 

Macknade

The Goods Shed, Canterbury

A farmer’s market, food hall and restaurant all rolled into one, The Goods Shed will not only provide you with a bustling open farmer’s market to feast your senses upon, but also an award-winning restaurant which makes the perfect viewing platform to witness the hustle and bustle of this fabulous food metropolis after you’ve completed your shop. A great location to buy English wines sourced from local vineyards, you can purchase any treats that have you salivating for more at the in-house butchers, fishmongers, veg stall, bakery, cheesemongers, charcuterie or wine store. Slow-proved loaves are drawn from the ovens in the bakery throughout the day and meat is freshly prepared in the butchery to be cooked in the open kitchen or outside on the grill.

The Goods Shed

Broadditch Farm Shop, Gravesend

Experience Broadditch Farm Shop’s Magical Christmas Shop, a wonderland of decorations, festive lights and unusual gifts. A lovely festive addition to this Kentish farm shop, Broadditch will also host a Festive Food Hall, both to open daily until Christmas Eve. The Farm Shop will always have everything you need for your traditional Christmas dinner. You will find shelves bursting with an abundance of fruit, vegetables, condiments, dates, nuts, stuffing, cold meats, cheeses, cream, incredible Christmas hampers, festive cakes and lots more including goose fat for those delicious roast potatoes and chestnuts perfect for roasting.

Glorious Gift Shops and Inspiring Indies 

Although Kent is best known for its fresh produce perfect for our plate, this county is also celebrated for being one of the most creative. With seaside towns such as Folkestone and Margate famous for their thriving arts scene, Kent also has a plethora of artisan markets, brimming with boutiques, independent gift, homeware, antique shops and more. In Kent, festive shoppers are certain to find gifts to give that will be treasured.  

insideKENT’s Top Places to Visit for Unique Gifts     

Folkestone’s Creative Quarter 

Here you will find galleries galore with local artists selling their pieces including goldsmiths and talented jewellers such as Aimee Craddock. As well as artists and makers, the Creative Quarter is home to lots of indie gift shops and unique creative businesses ideal for alternative gifts. These include vintage clothes shops such as Ben’s Vintage, and incredible high-end gift shops selling everything from artistic interior pieces to quirky crockery such as The Great British Shop, Whimsy & Bloom and Folkestone Rocks. If you’re shopping for little ones, Folkestone’s Creative Quarter will be the answer to your Christmas prayers – Moo Like a Monkey and Custard HQ, as well as many others, stock plenty of lovely presents and sweet stocking fillers for children. 

For those difficult to buy for types, Folkestone also has your answer in the form of Foras. Foras’s owner Alex, makes small-batch unisex fragrances that smell utterly divine and take inspiration from the natural world. From eau de parfum and soap to skincare and oils, no matter the personality of who you might be buying for, they are sure to love a Foras’s product. Foras also sell Kentish brand Pelegrims, which is also crafted by Alex. Products include their award-winning anti-ageing balm and each is made from the grapes of Westwell Wines. Given together or individually, Foras and Pelegrims make beautiful Kentish gifts that will enchant anyone.  

The Pantiles Market and Chapel Place, Tunbridge Wells

As well as The Pantiles Festive Market, which offers an array of food and drink, artisan goods and ingenious Kentish gifts (think scented candles melted into Whitsable oysters!), Tunbridge Wells is full of eclectic independent shops that will have you browsing in awe for hours. Stop by at Le Petit Jardin, a garden-inspired gift and homeware shop that is certain to satisfy even the most difficult of recipients. insideKENT particularly recommends the Fer á Cheval gentled perfumed soap in honey and almond. Just across the street is Settle Home, in which you will find larger interior items ideal to give as bigger, more extravagant gifts. Think stunning lamps, beautiful crockery and statement mirrors. 

Everyone loves a good book at Christmas, so stop by Hall’s Bookshop in Chapel Place. Selling everything from current bestsellers and cookbooks to niche collectables and annuals, get ready to be swept away at this reader’s haven. 

Don’t forget the pets! Wolfit is a family run business with pet Shops in both Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge that were established over 25 years ago. Guaranteed to have all the cute treats and toys to let your pet know they are loved this Christmas.

Rochester

As well as plenty of history and the Dickensian Christmas Market, Rochester has lots of brilliant independent shops that are perfect for Christmas gift hunting. Our favourites include I Dig Dinos, which specialises in fossils, minerals and history-based gifts, Baggins Books Bazaar, England’s largest secondhand bookshop, and Kaizen Antiques & Jewellery, a treasure trove of beautiful jewellery, antique furniture, silver, paintings and ceramics, with people often comparing the shop to an Aladdin’s cave.

Kiss Kiss Heart and Rocket and The Plant Room are two distinct boutique shops under one ownership, each with its own distinct personality. Rocket is a fun shop with a mix of modern trendy fashion, homeware and giftware embracing all things vintage with a strong love for the 1950s. Kiss Kiss Heart is thoughtful brands with strong ethical and quality values that make them a bit more special than usual. A huge selection of lighting, furniture, home fragrance, ornaments and faux flowers spanning styles from industrial to hygge.

One of the newest arrivals on Rochestser’s High Street is Get Ready Comics. A fun shop, selling American comics, subscriptions, graphic novels, comic supplies, action figures, t-shirts, pop vinyl and cult entertainment merchandise, this is the place to go if you want to buy merchandise featuring a giftee’s favourite characters!

For those looking for more expensive gifts to last generations, visit Fieldstaff Antiques. Established on Rochester’s High Street for over 30 years, this shop offers three floors of showrooms. Get ready to browse antiques and collectables including a wide variety of furniture, silver, glass, ceramics, records, costume jewellery and vintage clothing and accessories.

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