The Peak District's Farmers' Markets feed money straight back into the local farms.: Local organic produce at a farmers' market, peak districtThe Peak District's Farmers' Markets feed money straight back into the local farms.: Local organic produce at a farmers' market, peak districtWith a farming history stretching back 6,000 years, and with nearly half the region given over to farming today, it shouldn't be a surprise to discover that there are literally hundreds of artisan food producers and outlets selling local specialities in the region. You, too, can do your bit in supporting the local farming communities by buying and eating local, and here's how.

To market: With over 2,000 farms within its borders, there is a thriving farmers' market scene in the Peak District. Produce normally comes from within a thirty-mile radius, helping to reduce food miles and keep the money within the local economy. If you enjoy good food, there’s nothing better than tucking into a juicy homemade beef burger amidst the hustle, bustle and delicious smells of a lively food market, so here is just a handful of the dozens of regional monthly markets to get you started:

Bakewell (last Sat of every month, except July and Dec; 01629 813777); Buxton (usually 1st Thurs; 01298 23114); Castleton (1st Sun, except Jan; 01298 813539), Hathersage (1st Sat, except Jan; 07931 960770), Matlock (3rd Sat; 01629 583042)

Select from a huge array of locally sourced goodiesSelect from a huge array of locally sourced goodiesFarm shops, butchers and bakeries: Small outlets selling local meats, cheeses, homemade breads, and a variety of local specialities are springing up all over the Peak District, giving visitors the opportunity to avoid supermarkets on holiday and contribute instead to the local economy. Try Castlegate Farm Shop (Stoney Middleton; 01433 630400) for the best beef, lamb, pies, pastries and sausages in the area; J W Mettrick & Son has traded in Glosop for over 100 years and only sources lamb from Peak District farms managed for conservation; E W Coates Butchers (Two Dales; 01629 733504) prides itself on only using animals reared on local farms which use responsible and sustainable farming procedures; Tindalls bakery and deli (Tideswell; 01298 871351) is a multiple award-winning traditional bakery, producing bread, cakes, original pork pies and home-cooked local meats.

Down on the farm: Don your wellies and head to the farm to buy local produce. Farm-gate sales means food miles are practically non-existent and, with no middleman to deal with, money from sales goes straight back into the farms. At Big Fernyford Farm, sheep and cattle are reared using traditional husbandry methods on land managed in an environmentally sensitive way, and Church Farm in Alsop breeds the rare Gloucestershire Cattle.

Ice cream parlours: And with all those thousands of cows grazing the dales and moorlands, ice cream parlours are popping up on farms, allowing visitors to enjoy a scoop or two of the cold stuff in a beautiful natural setting. Tucked into stunning Derbyshire countryside, Matlock Meadows has been in the family since the 1930's, but their ice cream, inspired by trips to Italy, is an exciting new venture. And if ice cream isn't your thing, don't worry - there's a coffee shop selling treats of a warmer variety, and there are plans afoot for a new viewing gallery from where you can watch the first stage of ice cream production happen - the milking of the cows! Hope Valley is a haven for lovers of wildlife and ice cream alike. Here, conservation is key; as a result the hedgrows, streams, trees and meadows are teeming with wildlife and wildflowers. Their delicious homemade ice cream has some unsual flavours (try orange marmelade crunch) amongst some old favourites, like rum and raisin and raspberry sorbet.