The green movement is well underway as evidenced by the establishment of a number of organic markets in and around Johannesburg of late. One such market is the organic Farmer’s Market at the Bamboo Centre in Melville.
The market is held every Saturday from 9am to 1pm on the roof of the centre and aims to meet the needs of the local community’s weekly shopping needs. Although diminutive, the market is well represented by a variety of organic food sellers. According to a market organiser, the market is working towards becoming affiliated to Slow Food International, a non - profit organisation established to counter fast food and fast living.
A table loaded with baked goods was the first to catch my eye. Products on display included delicious freshly baked ciabata, seed loaves, doughnuts smothered in thick chocolate, croissants and spinach and feta bread. I purchased a loaf of spinach and feta bread and a cup of ‘Bean There’ coffee which I drank safe in the knowledge that it was derived via fair trade channels.
Next door, ‘Sprouts Kitchen’ offered a variety of dehydrated, gluten free, vegan friendly snacks. Flavours included lemon and thyme, apple and cinnamon, banana and coconut and tomato and coriander. Herb flavoured flax crackers were also available.
I wondered past Marcel’s House of Crepes where mouth-watering pancakes were being prepared and found myself chatting to a ‘Positive Cycle’ representative who discussed the benefits of growing your own vegetable garden. Positive Cycle’s MD is actively involved with food growing training at disadvantaged schools and also consults on ‘edible landscapes’.
Being green doesn’t necessarily mean going the vegetarian or vegan route as the next market stall proved. This stall’s owner was all but sold out of his organic biltong, boerewors, dry wors and biltong powder, the majority of which was made from game meat.
If olives are your thing be sure to visit Bamboo’s Laharna Farm stall where you’ll find olives in every shape and form. Think basil and garlic flavoured olives, olives drenched in salt and vinegar, chilli olives, olive chutney, stuffed olives, olive pesto and of course olive oil. Other fresh herb products were also available, all of which are grown at the Laharna Farm near Ladysmith.
Fusion Deli’s fresh chilli and herb pestos were particularly tasty and ranged from mild to red-hot on the ‘hot’ scale. I bought a tangy, bright red ‘Gojipeno’ pesto made from goji berries and jalapenos which works well with cheese and crackers. Fusion Deli’s chocolate and lavender fudge was also delicious.
Foxy’s Foods also proved a dab hand in the pesto department. Pesto flavours included rocket, basil, sundried tomato and green olive and pepperdew. Foxy’s homemade spaghetti mix is also apparently a hit with patrons.
As the name suggests, all things of the lemon persuasion were on sale at the ‘Lemon Story’ table. Lemon candied peel, lemon chutney, lemon cordial, lemon shortbread and lemon squares were but a few of the products available all of which were made from home-grown lemons. The lemon ‘posset’ was particularly delicious. Posset is a decadent pudding of medieval origins made from double cream, lemons and sugar and is definitely not diet friendly.
Other market products included free range duck and chicken from Last Horizons Farm (the duck eggs are apparently particularly popular), fresh hard and soft handmade cheeses, marmalade and cream from ‘Tarragon’, raw food preparations from ‘Red Avo’ (their banana pudding is particularly good) and crisp organic fruit and vegetables. If you haven’t stuff yourself by the time you get to ‘Exploration of Flavours’, don’t hesitate to treat yourself to their spring rolls or chicken korma.
It was interesting to note a number of locals browsed the market accompanied by their small dogs. At one point a local band drummed its way up the street to mark the start of a poetry festival and a horse drawn cart also made an appearance during the day; none of which would have been seen at your local shopping mall.
If for some strange reason you don’t feel like buying any of the market’s food, you can try out Bamboo’s ‘Service Station’ restaurant which serves tasty deli style meals. Other stores include amongst others, Nap, Black Coffee, Entropy, Tinsel and Love Books. Interestingly, the majority of the stores are interconnected and all offer beautiful, unique products.
A number of festivals have been held at the market, the most recent of which was an Asparagus Festival. Christmas markets have been earmarked for December and if the Saturday market is anything to go by, these will be well worth diarising.