The Fruit Stall, Chapel Allerton

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It’s probably become quite clear to people who know me, follow me on Twitter, see me about, that I love where I live. I mean, I really do. I’m a relative newcomer to suburban life, my move out of the city centre coincided with my wedding last September, but man have I adapted well. I’m fully into it. The neighbours, the local independent scene, my single piccolo at 9am every morning, served to me by my friendly neighbourhood barista. I’m one of those people now. Those inner city flats, they’re just so impersonal, aren’t they?! You can’t get asparagus fresh from the ground down there, can you! Those people just don’t understand what they’re missing. </patronising> Joking aside, I know you can shop independently in the city centre, but no one makes it easy for you. What I love about being in Chapel Allerton is that there are lovely, local people running lovely, local businesses everywhere. It’s great!

Anyway, I’m here to tell you about The Fruit Stall. It’s funny because it’s a shop, not a stall. But it was a stall. In the 18 months leading up to the opening in March, Richard set up his fruit and veg on Fridays and Saturdays under a canvas umbrella outside Yorkshire Bank on Stainbeck Lane. Now they have permanent premises in a unit just round the corner on Harrogate Rd, next to Neil the Butcher, so they can trade for longer hours and from a Wednesday through to Saturday.

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I’ve talked on the blog before about how, as I’ve got older, eating locally and seasonally has become much more important to me, so when I heard The Fruit Stall was expanding, I got pretty excited. It seemed like just the antidote the people of Chapel A needed, shortly after the announcement that a new Morrisons superstore was on it’s way. I mean, I’m not judging, I’m realistic: it’s easy to nip into the supermarket on your way home from work – they’re open late and they’re cheap. But the thing is, I believe that supermarkets have us missing out on the way things are supposed to be eaten and enjoyed. Personally, I don’t want to eat strawberries in February and asparagus in December. The supermarket confuses me. Everything is available all the time – and there’s a trade-off for that. Taste.  

That’s what I love about having The Fruit Stall so close to home. They stock what’s fresh. It’s out of the ground that morning, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Come September, those peaches are no where to be found and you just have to live with it until next June. Thing is though, there’s a silver lining: in return, you get plums. Modern day convenience, maybe not – but the taste comes back. Things are ripe, juicy. Shiny and green. You get what’s there at its very best, and I’m really into that.

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Way back in January I wrote about my philosophy on How to Eat Well. In that post, I explained that the way I operate is to buy little and often, what’s fresh and looks good. A little of what I fancy when I fancy it, if you will. It’s a very Nigel Slater way to be and it suits us in the Dix household. Annoyingly, it’s not the cheapest way to do things, and in some way it contradicts some of what we spoke about last week in Meal Planning. Buying day to day can be more expensive than planning ahead, but buying from independents can help keep that cost down. While a lot of local products are charged at a premium, what they sell at The Fruit Stall is amazing value for money. I rarely spend more than £3 a pop, and I still seem to have fresh fruit, veg and flowers at home for days. Packaged produce at the supermarket may have a longer shelf life, but the stuff grown around the corner is often bigger, rounder, brighter. All together, much more appealing.

I guess the purpose of this post is much the same as the purpose of my post on The Greedy Pig from a few weeks ago. I’m surrounded by a lot of people who have no qualms waxing lyrical about the sad state of local economy, but it’s those same people I see walking home with flame-orange Sainsbury’s bags every night. I’m not trying to vilify anyone, I don’t want to preach – after all, we all do it. I’m just here to slowly prod you, slowly coax you into visiting your local butcher, greengrocer, coffee shop, cafe, family-run restaurant. My generation is one of the first to become truly consumer driven – favouring cheap prices and bright, white warehouses over small spaces shrouded in passion, effort and history. Thankfully, there’s started to be a little backlash. If we make it a part of our routine to keep good, quality establishments in business, if we shake off that need to be anonymous as we browse but instead say hello as we hand over the cash, it should start to feel like second nature. Don’t you think?

/rant.  What do you think? Do you shop locally or do you see it as out of your price range right now?

The Fruit Stall 138 Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 4NZ | @TheFruitStall

  • I really like The Fruit Stall – I’m always amazed at how little it comes to at the till, even when I’ve filled my basket to the brim, and I love that it’s so busy on Saturday mornings (even if you do have to manoeuvre around all the prams to get to the doughnut peaches #chapelaproblems).

    My main problem with shopping local is the convenience. I really really want to only buy my meat from Neil’s and my fruit & veg from The Fruit Stall but due to both of us working 9-5, our only opportunity is Saturday morning. We do it as much as we can but it’s just not feasible most of the time.

    Sadly it means that if we’ve run out of something the local Co-Op or Sainsburys is our only option – if they opened past 6 then I would definitely much rather pop in on my way home (or vice versa, an early opening would mean I could go on the way to the bus stop…). I know that it’s obviously difficult to run on limited manpower but I do wonder what a change to opening times would do for business?

    I often think this about other places in Chapel Allerton as well – I want to give local businesses my money but they’re often shut when I want them (i.e. evenings and weekends). It is my resolution to make more effort to go on Saturdays in the coming months, now that the rush of summer is over.

    • I’m the same as you Amy Liz. I love all the local shops in Chapel Al (lived here 11yrs and do not intend to move any time soon)…but I find I can’t visit them often due to work and being away a lot at weekends. One trick I keep trying to remember is coming back on a lunchtime (I only work in Headingley, so it’s easier for me to pop back over in the car) to shop. In practise though, I find myself working through lunch breaks or in meetings. I’m currently two weeks late to pick up some jeans from the Zip Yard 😀

      • Lil

        Hi girls!

        I totally understand your plight. I know that it’s only because I’m freelance that I can visit The Fruit Stall and Neil on a Tuesday at 2pm, and practically live in Opposite Cafe, instead of queueing with the throngs on a Saturday morning. I think it would be SO great if the local shops could open late some evenings, or even early like you suggested Amy. Maybe we should talk to them about it! I think even the cafes would benefit from a late night – especially in the summer, but I understand that staffing costs etc are too high to make it feasible.

        I’m glad you love our local area as much as I do! Thanks for the comments, as always 🙂 xxx

  • chloe

    I shop in Leeds market as often as I possibly can, it is most definitely the cheapest/best option. I love the little fruit and veg stalls that are scattered around Hyde Park too!

    I wish I lived in Chapel Allerton, it seems like an amazing place; I need to go for an explore!

    chloex

    http://www.bythelock.com

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