“Riverside farmers’ market began with a dozen stalls, once a month” – Steve

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I was born in Wrexham in 1950, so I am one of the ‘sixties generation’ and still shares its values.

I’ve always loved markets, and after living in different parts of Europe and Canada, I came back to Wales in 1993 to work at Community Music Wales in Cardiff, carrying in the back of my mind the idea of setting up a farmers’ market here.

I spent a year at the School of Social Entrepreneurs set up by Michael Young who also set up the Consumers’ Association and Open University. The idea of the course was to learn to be “business-like but for social benefits”. At the end of that course I was ready to put my dream of running a farmers market into motion.

I set up Riverside farmers’ market in 1998, pipped to the post by a couple of months by Bath farmers’ market to being the first in Britain.

It began with around a dozen stalls appearing once a month, then went weekly, and eight years ago moved to its present site on the Taff embankment opposite the Millennium Stadium.

The idea of setting up a market really inspired me because it has an economic dimension, a social justice dimension, environmental and cultural dimensions. The social and personal sides of the market are just as important to me as the fact you can buy good food there..

I am disappointed that farmers’ markets are still perceived as being for a limited number of people, the affluent or those with high level of education.

But I think that the food landscape is about to change massively.

Food production and distribution is highly dependent on oil, and as oil becomes scarcer, the intensively farmed and imported food we buy through supermarkets will become more expensive and the alternatives relatively cheaper. Local food markets are going to slowly but surely become a much more important part of the food supply for everybody. In the meantime we’re trying to make sure there’s enough of a small scale agricultural economy in Wales while the bigger picture is changing.

Much of the food on sale at the farmers’ market is competitive with supermarket prices anyway, but we have been hypnotised in this country to think when it comes to food that cheap is good in a way the rest of Europe has not. My experience of France, for example, is that people are not buying sliced bread, they’re buying a fresh baguette and some nice cheese.

They may be spending a bit more of their income on that but we’re talking about quality of life here. It’s what you choose to do with your money. Health, quality of life, being part of a community are as important as anything else. If people spent a little more of their household income on food, as they do in many continental countries, they might value food more.

In this country between 20% and 30% of what people buy gets thrown away. If you buy vegetables you can have fantastic food really cheaply if you make it yourself, and it’s a pleasure to cook if you know how to. And it’s healthy for you and your kids to eat stuff that’s been made from fresh.

If I go down to the Riverside market I can never spend less than two hours there because I have to chat with all the stallholders. They’re really interesting characters because they’re all individualists.

Other activities, which have been part of Riverside’s work since the early days, include work with local schools, taking schoolchildren to farms, and running cooking sessions in the local community.

We also run a community allotment garden in Cardiff and have rented some land in Cowbridge to create an organic horticulture business that will be growing and selling food locally and training people to grow their own.

I think that good businesses of the future will be need to be more environmentally sound and based on collaboration than competition. It’s a change of culture. That makes me happy because that change of culture is precisely what the ‘60’s generation always wanted to achieve.

Steve Garrett oversees Riverside Community Market Association (RCMA) and its associated activities, including setting up three other farmers markets in Cardiff; education and outreach activities (including the Riverside Community Allotment) and the RCMA Market Garden project, a new social enterprise, which will provide training in horticulture for local people and help create a sustainable food chain in Cardiff. He sits on panels and committees that advise local and national government on food policy, and hopes to contribute to a more sustainable and future-oriented food system in Wales. In the little spare time he has, Steve plays guitar and gigs under the name of Stainless Steve. He is proud father to an eight-year old son who keeps him on his toes, and he is governor at Severn Primary school. He currently lives in Riverside.

Steve was photographed at Riverside Farmers’ Market by Adam Chard

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‘I’ve loved Cardiff’s arcades for as long as I can remember’ – Amy

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It took me five years to fall in love with Cardiff. Maybe I’d been in love with it from day one, there was certainly some kind of mysterious force keeping me here. But I only realised how hard I’d fallen a few months ago.

I’m not a native Cardiffian. I’m not even Welsh (although for some time I did believe I had Welsh grandparents…). I moved here for the same reason I imagine many thousands do – university.

The strangest part about my decision to move to Cardiff was that I’d never even visited the city before I agreed to come and live here. It just seemed like the right thing to do. So up I rocked on day one, no clue where anything was, no clue about the history of the place, just sureity that this was where I was meant to be – and thankfully, I was oh so right.

Fast forward five and a bit years (and it really does feel like fast forward) and I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else. Even after I graduated and got a job in Bath, 50 miles away, I took the decision to commute rather than move. Now, while commuting has the odd strange benefit, believe it or not, it’s not exactly a picnic, so what is it about this place that still keeps me in its clutches?

I probably don’t need to tell anybody reading this about the many marvels of Cardiff, but I think it’s only now that I’m not a student and I actually spend a lot less time here than I used to, that I really appreciate it for what it is.

I’ve ended up with a city centre flat surrounded, pretty much, by all the things I love. I have the wonderful Bute Park only a few minutes round the corner, the magnificent Castle is opposite and the extra special Victorian and Edwardian Arcades line the street I live on – I couldn’t really ask for more.

The funny thing is, a lot of the places that I love, I didn’t really discover until after I’d made the decision to stay here after graduation. It sounds blasphemous, but it took me until last year to discover Wally’s – if you can believe that – I’d walked past it a few times but for god knows what insane reason not been in. Jacob’s Antiques, just behind Central station is another place that I often find myself in on a lazy Saturday afternoon, shamefully again something I’d seen from the train window a million and one times before I actually went in.

I could go on (and on) and list a thousand other great places, but I simply wouldn’t have time, because there’s too many, and you probably already know about them. Suffice to say, now that I know what I’d be missing out on if I left, I’m more in love with the place than ever before, and I also know there are so many more gems that I’ve probably also missed just waiting for me to explore.

It’s my love of all things Cardiff that led to the sudden lightning bolt of inspiration I had just the other night. I’ve been taking part in a Project 365, where you take one photo a day for a year, when I casually strolled into the Morgan Arcade one evening looking for that day’s picture. I’ve loved the arcades for as long as I can remember, and I think it’s fantastic that there’s a place that’s so uniquely Cardiff literally on my doorstep.

I tweeted that it might be a cool idea to do a photography project based entirely around the arcades and since then it has snowballed, there’s been a lot of interest and it’s now a full-blown project. So now you see, I really can’t leave, because I’m committed now to seeing through my Arcades project develop into something that I can be proud of, and it’s hopefully something that other people will get a lot of enjoyment out of.

So that’s my story, in a very tiny nutshell. I wonder what else Cardiff will ensnare me with over the coming years? Whatever it is… I can’t wait to find out.

Amy Davies is a journalist and photographer living in Cardiff city centre. Having moved to Cardiff 5-and-a-bit years ago for University, and never having the decency to leave, she now calls it home. During the day she boards the train of fun for her daily commute to Bath working on a photography website, and most of the rest of the time she’s either taking photos, writing things, baking cakes or a combination of all three. Visit the Cardiff Arcades Project website for more details on her latest project of insanity.

Amy was photographed at Cardiff Castle by Adam Chard

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“Laser, smoke machine, and two spinning turntables” – Doug

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It finally dawned on me one day last summer that I think of Cardiff as home and have done for quite a while. It seems obvious now but it took a rare visit to the village that I grew up in to make me realise quite how much of an impact this city’s made on me.

I was back in England for a friend’s wedding and felt detached from the once-familiar surroundings. The accents didn’t sound right. Road signs were monolingual. I was a long way from the coast. People weren’t wearing pyjamas in supermarkets.

It was late last century when I first drove a car-load of belongings over the Severn Bridge with no idea of whether it would be a temporary or permanent move. To put a historical perspective on it: it was around the time the National Assembly for Wales was established, the Rugby World Cup was about to come to Wales and Cardiff Bay was preparing to open for business. As with many things in my life it turned out alright, more by luck than judgement.

Things were happening here. The promptly-constructed Millennium Stadium brought FA Cup finals and other major events to Cardiff while an over-budget, delayed Wembley Stadium was under construction. Cardiff City developed from third division mediocrity to Premier League hopefuls. Just last year the Swalec stadium put the Wales back into England and Wales cricket as the Ashes came to town.

Things outside the sporting world were gathering momentum too with gigs, clubs and daily trips to the basement at Catapult Records to keep tabs on new releases. It wasn’t long before I was immersed in music in Cardiff and I loved it. One of the main things that struck me about the city then – and it still does today – if you want to get involved, you can. This is where a compact capital city has its advantages.

I found my own slice of Cardiff, promoting and playing records at one of its true gems, Clwb Ifor Bach. It was one of the first places that really defined Cardiff for me when I arrived here. I managed to get a foot in the door, helping out at the now-defunct Hustler Showcase events and ended up doing a five-year stint with monthly club night Sumo.

Those heady days may be behind me but I still love that place. Guest DJs loved it. I’m guessing a few other people did too because they kept coming back each month: laser, smoke machine, and two spinning turntables.

Meanwhile, back in 2011, things are still happening here.

You only have to look to autumn’s Swn festival to see how well things can work in this cosy, friendly city. If anyone ever suggests that the ‘biggest bands’ don’t come here, the chances are they probably already have – and delivered a memorable gig to 100 grateful people in a city pub.

Whether you’re into music, arts, sports or something else, there are a lot of talented, creative, hard-working people in Cardiff and that won’t change any time soon. There are also a lot of people who know how to enjoy themselves. Often they’re the same people and that’s one of many things that make this city great.

Ten years after graduating from a journalism degree in Cardiff, Doug is still here and these days can mainly be found at home in Splott, at work for the Welsh Assembly Government in Cardiff Bay or running around Cardiff training for some event or other. Online: @dougjnicholls on Twitter or D_J_Nicholls on Flickr.

Doug was photographed at the Imperial Cafe by Adam Chard

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“Cardiff Bay – what’s in a name?” – Jeremy

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I get out and about in Cardiff quite a bit, it goes with the job. Unsurprisingly, then, I’m often asked the question ‘where do you live?’ It’s a fairly humdrum, commonplace way to initiate small talk. For some people the reply to such a query would roll off the tongue without a second thought. In my case though, it’s not such a straightforward matter….

For the record, I live in a terraced street in a cluster of Victorian houses near where the River Taff ebbs and flows its way towards the Bristol Channel. The houses on my street were built to accommodate the families of men working in what was one of busiest seaports anywhere in the world. The houses all look pretty much the same from outside, but all are built slightly differently – some quite considerably larger than others to reflect more senior positions of the inhabitants, with the Sea Captain’s houses being the largest. The house I live in is one of the smaller ones and was home to a docker’s family for 65 years. That family has gone, but the stories of their time here lives on in the memories of my neighbours who have lived on the street for decades. It’s a friendly and welcoming place to live; the community is richly diverse in ethnicity, and that’s nothing new – the area is part of what many regard as the oldest multi-cultural community in Britain. To those who’ve lived here for generations, this area is known simply as ‘The Docks’. Separated from what used to be Tiger Bay by Clarence Road, it’s a small enclave that survived both the bombings of World War 11 and the brutal bulldozers of Cardiff Corporation in the 1970s.

To call it ‘The Docks’ is a nod to its history, its heritage – to the stories of the people who lived and died here, but it can’t be denied that the name no longer reflects the area. What remains of Cardiff Docks is a good couple of miles away, and the only vessels we now see calmly making their way down to the barrage are yachts and the occasional Water Bus. Estate Agents have applied the term ‘Cardiff Bay’ to these streets for 20 years or more, and unsurprisingly that’s how many others of my neighbours describe where they live. The street is a stone’s throw from the heartland of ‘new’ Cardiff – the Wales Millennium Centre, Mermaid Quay, The Red Dragon Centre and the profusion of restaurants and arty shops that have transformed this once neglected part of the City into a thriving cultural hub. For me, though, all the impressively shiny newness is a stark counterpoint to what it replaced. The decaying but still majestic empty buildings at the top end of Bute Street and the abandoned railway station in the Bay are screaming out for investment while new constructions – which could be anywhere in the UK – are still springing up.

As far as maps – and Cardiff Council – are concerned, I live in Butetown. The area of the City about which most books have been written, and which inspires reactions as diverse as the district itself from people who have never been here. It is in Butetown that Cardiff’s only community radio station has its studios. Indeed, Radio Cardiff is the only radio service exclusively aimed at the city. It’s an extraordinary operation. It receives no grant aid and employs no staff, but has a team of over 50 unpaid volunteers who put together programming that is quite unique and with a definite Cardiff accent. The team behind it ran short-term restricted licence broadcasts (under the names Tiger Bay FM, Bay FM and latterly Beats FM) regularly from 1992, and then in 2007 succeeded in winning the licence to broadcast the full time ‘Radio Cardiff’. I joined at its official launch, first as a newsreader and then as a presenter. Now I co-ordinate the volunteers who produce the news output and a youth programme. I also present the Saturday Breakfast Show. It’s more than a radio station for the community, it’s a community within itself – multi-cultural and across age ranges. I have learned so much from being part of the team there, not just about radio but about the city in which I live. I have been privileged to meet – and often interview – many of the people who have contributed to make Cardiff what it is today.

So, just where do I live? I totally respect the idea of referring to my area as ‘The Docks’ but in truth it’s a name that reflects a time I wasn’t here and so it doesn’t really feel right. I’m not a ‘Docks Boy’ – I grew up in the Swansea Valley and lived much of my adult life in London so while I love hearing the stories of its past, they are not my stories. I’m uncomfortable with calling it ‘Cardiff Bay’ perhaps because of what was cleared away to create it – it’s still raw for many who grew up in Tiger Bay that the unique community that meant so much both to them and to the city could have been swept away by a planners blueprint. I have no problem with the name Butetown other than it refers to the larger district, and so whatever the Post Office may say, I live in ‘The Bay’,

Jeremy Rees works for Voluntary Action Cardiff, – the organisation supporting charity & voluntary organisations in the City – and at Radio Cardiff where he presents ‘Soulful Saturday Breakfast’ every Saturday morning 7am-9am. He currently lives in the Bay.

Jeremy was photographed at the Radio Cardiff studios by Adam Chard

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