I make no apology for featuring the enterprising market gardeners Lucy and Jonathan Bowden on this page once again. Theirs is a good luck story that has come about through their hard work and enthusiasm. It supplies evidence, too, of Eynsham’s amazing community spirit which has triumphed once again.

When I wrote about the Bowdens in January 2010, I had met them at their market stall on a winter’s day when the temperature was well below freezing. They were both wrapped in fluffy hats and scarves as they served customers with vegetables they had harvested from the frozen ground the day before. Their hands were blue with cold, but their smiles were radiant. Their endurance through that period won them admiration from us all and that has not diminished. It’s thanks to the community that Lucy and Jonathan are now proud owners of their own little shop — The Market Garden — opposite the site of their original stall in Mill Street. As at the stall, many items they sell have been harvested from their three-acre market garden in nearby Long Hanborough. They also sell local cream, eggs and honey, and home-made cakes and biscuits baked by members of Eynsham’s Community Market. They both admit it is a dream come true.

Jonathan explained that it all began when premises occupied by a bookie closed down.

“Every Saturday we would look over at this vacant shop, which was becoming more and more grotty and unloved by the day. As it stood in the centre of the village, opposite the Emporium and next to the Post Office it was a prime location.

“At first we just made little comments to each other, saying it would be nice if we took it over, but of course that was just a dream at first, though we did enquire about the cost of rent and its availability. Finally, after much deliberation, we made an offer to the agent. This was accepted initially, then we were gazumped. Our offer had been topped by a company running fast food outlets.

“From the word go people began grumbling — no one seemed to want a kebab house in what is mainly a residential area. Eynsham already has several fast food outlets. Then there was the problem of the cooking smells, the noise of extractor fans and late-night customers.”

This was when people-power kicked in.

“We put a petition on our stall and collected 100 signatures of protest within a few hours and members of the community began sending round-robin emails. I have never experienced the power of a community acting in unison like this before. It was simply amazing. There were only three or four days for this protest to work, but during that time, hundreds and hundreds of emails were winging their way round the village. People were offering financial help, too, enabling us to top up our offer just slightly. It was overwhelming. Suddenly the shop was ours!”

Transforming scruffy premises into an attractive fruit and vegetable outlet was hard work, but with help from the community and Lucy and Jonathan have done it.

The couple knew that competing with supermarket prices was one of their main problems. They were aware that prospective customers might assume that as the shop was privately run and attractive, prices might be high. Actually, they are not. In most cases produce costs far less than in supermarkets, thanks in part to the fact that they grow their own and are not having to share the profit with a middle man.

Mixed salad leaves are their best-seller as they are sold by the gram, enabling customers to help themselves to the exact amount they need. As the leaves are not packed in gas-filled bags, or commercially washed, they are equivalent to leaves we would all like to grow in our gardens.

None of their vegetables is washed; customers buy them just as they are, dug straight from the ground. Seasonal vegetables that they are not yet growing themselves at the moment, such as asparagus, are acquired from nearby market gardeners.

Fresh cream comes from the Upper Norton Jersey Cream Company at Church Hanborough, which they collect every morning as they drive from their Hanborough home to Eynsham. The home-made cakes and biscuits are freshly baked, and cooked to order when required.

Keeping their three-acre plot flourishing and also running a shop is not easy. It calls for early mornings, back-breaking work and a lot of midnight oil — but they are coping and splendidly.

The Market Garden is closed on Monday. It opens at 9.15am most mornings and at 8.30am on Saturdays, with 6pm closing on Thursdays and Fridays.

For further information and to learn more about their local produce go to: millwoodmarketgardens.blogspot.co.uk