Makers' market partners with social enterprise cafe

The popular St Andrews monthly makers’ market has teamed up with award-winning social enterprise café Zest to provide a sustainable pop-up café service at the market from Saturday (March 9).
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Rose & Thistle Markets is set to hold its next market at St Andrews Town Hall in Queen’s Gardens from 10am to 4pm. R & T Markets was started in October 2012 by American maker and mum-of-three Ellie Buck with other members of the Fair Ladies of St Andrews group as a way of supporting and encouraging other local makers bakers and artists while benefiting a local good cause.

The first two markets, held as Fair Ladies charity events, gave all proceeds to Family First and Storehouse Foodbank and were so successful Ellie decided they should continue as a monthly event, donating 10-20per cent of its table revenue plus any donations.

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Ellie set up Rose & Thistle Markets, which held its first two events in February and March 2022, collecting £168 plus non-perishable food and warm clothing donations for two Fife charities.

Team RTM - Kelly Hodgson (left) and Susan McMillanTeam RTM - Kelly Hodgson (left) and Susan McMillan
Team RTM - Kelly Hodgson (left) and Susan McMillan

Rose & Thistle Markets was recently taken over by two local makers, Kelly Hodgson and Susan McMillan. They liked how award-winning South Street social enterprise café Zest used its stall selling coffee beans & equipment as part of its mission to develop young people with additional support needs into meaningful employment, so asked owner Lisa Cathro if she’d like to extend Zest’s involvement.

Lisa immediately agreed as the two businesses share common values around ethics, community support and environmental sustainability and suggested they provide a pop-up café at each market to provide refreshments to market visitors and stall holders. But not just any café – one where everything on offer has strong sustainability credentials!

From Saturday its stall will offer filter coffee, small snacks, freshly roasted coffee beans and equipment for making coffee at home as well as using its new gluten-free fairtrade organic oat milk.

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Lisa said: “The collaboration was a no-brainer for us as, like Zest, the market has a strong focus on showcasing local sustainably-made product.

Lisa Cathro (Zest) and another stall holder at a trial run last monthLisa Cathro (Zest) and another stall holder at a trial run last month
Lisa Cathro (Zest) and another stall holder at a trial run last month

“Filter coffee is the most sustainable way of making coffee - with the lowest carbon footprint compared to one latte which is equivalent to one mile driven. Our coffee is also responsibly-sourced from a family-owned Scottish business with historic links to St Andrews.

“This monthly pop-up is also a learning opportunity for the Zest team - they’ll get the experience of working in a different environment, which helps their confidence and social skills, as well as embedding and practicing their coffee knowledge. They’ll also learn business, digital and event-planning skills and how to monitor and review each event.”

She added: "We hope both locals and visitors will come each month to support their community, local makers, and our social enterprise by shopping local. The products sold are unique, handmade, and sustainable. They can also find out about custom-made products as they meet the folk who produce them.”

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Free stalls are offered to a local charity each month and all profits are donated to charity annually. This month we have Fife Folk Museum and a trader collecting for CHAS. Between markets, it also spotlights new makers, community fundraisers and the sponsored charity on its Facebook and Instagram pages.

R and T Market in actionR and T Market in action
R and T Market in action

For more about Rose & Thistle Markets, go to its Facebook page @roseandthistlemarkets

Zest, a multi-award-winning social enterprise which supports people with additional needs to help them learn valuable work skills to achieve or maintain employment, works alongside Fife Council Supported Employment, DWP Job Centre Plus, HMP Castle Huntly to provide learning opportunities through work placements.

Zest, which opened in 2008, takes pride in its endeavours and celebrates its successes as a group. Zest believes this collective attitude is what makes it different and is reflected in its name - Together We Are Zest.

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In addition to its employment philosophy, Zest believes in a great quality product served by an enthusiastic, motivated, and well-trained team.

Zest only uses high-quality looseleaf tea and ethically sourced Specialty-grade coffee.

Zest’s awards to date:

· 2023 – FSB Community Award – Finalist for Scotland

· 2022 - Disability Confident Leader

· 2019 & 2022 - Disability Confident Employer

· 2022 – Highly Commended, Best Independent Café, The Courier Menu Awards

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· 2022 – Highly Commended, Sustainability, The Courier Menu Awards

· 2018 & 15 - Investors in Young People Accreditation

· 2018 - Best Cafe Design Scotland, Scottish Cafe Awards

· 2017 – Community Justice Award

· 2016 - Responsible Business Champion - North East Fife, All-Party Parliamentary Corporate Responsibility Group

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· 2014 - Employer of the Year, Scottish Union of Supported Employment

· 2014 - Micro Employer of the Year 2014, Skills Development Scotland Modern Apprenticeships Awards 2014

· 2010 - Scottish Business Diversity Award, Scottish Union of Supported Employment

The Zest website can be found at

About Rose & Thistle

Rose and Thistle Markets is a well-established free-entry monthly market, which was recently taken over by two local makers. Community and sustainability remain the core values of the market.

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At the heart of the market is a thriving community of local makers, bakers, artists, and charities who support and encourage each other. A different local charitable organisation is sponsored at each market.

Each month the best of the best local makers are selected based on the quality of craftsmanship, uniqueness of product and sustainable approach to their business and design process. As there are new makers and a different local charitable organisation to support each month there is always something new to see.

This ensures that Rose and Thistle Markets offers a unique shopping experience of not only high quality handcrafted products, but also a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

Whether you are looking to treat yourself, give the gift of handmade to someone special, or want a souvenir of your time in Scotland, the Rose and Thistle community have the perfect handmade pieces for you.

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The market takes place every second Saturday, excluding August, between 10am and 4pm at St. Andrews Town Hall, Queen’s Gardens, KY16 9TA. The next is Saturday 9th March 2024

Social media links

Facebook – @Rose and Thistle Markets

Instagram - @roseandthistlemarkets

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