A number of organic markets have sprung up in and around Johannesburg of late in line with the global ‘green’ shift and a desire for intimate, non-clinical shopping experiences.
The Bryanston Organic & Natural Market was the first of its kind to appear in Johannesburg and is arguably one of the most well-known in the country. History has it that the market originated in 1976 when a group of women gathered outside the Michael Mount Waldorf School every Thursday morning to sell organic vegetables and produce out of the back of their cars.
Their wares became a hit with passing motorists and it soon became apparent that the operation needed to expand. With the school’s permission, the dynamic group moved to another portion of the property and their ranks were soon swelled by other like-minded craftsmen and women. Wooden stalls and meandering footpaths were constructed and added to as demand dictated and today, 35 years later and thanks in no small part to the school, the market is going strong and is a firm favourite with locals and far-flung visitors alike.
Encompassed within the market’s charming stalls are a multitude of organic products and hand crafted goods including home-made bread and pastries, organic cosmetics and creams, jewellery, crystals, leather shoes, candles, vegetables, aromatherapy oils, toys, cheese, meat, curios, cakes, fish, pottery, sauces, preserves, art, clothes and much more besides. The list is extensive, the talent and dedication behind it obvious. Best of all the products are good for the earth.
The market is open every Thursday and Saturday from 9am to 3pm.Throughout the year, special events such as origami workshops, photography exhibitions, fashion shows, health and wellness promotions and food festivals take place. Over the Christmas period, special moonlight markets take place and are well worth a visit. Christmas decorations festoon the stalls, children decked out in Christmas garb sing Christmas Carols and all manner of Christmas orientated products are sold. Suffice to say an evening at one of these markets is guaranteed to put visitors in a festive mood (and lighten your wallet!).
Of course a visit to the market wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a meal courtesy of one (or two) of the resident eateries. My personal favourite is Bettina’s Coffee Shop which never fails to have a variety of luscious, decadent cakes on the menu. Their organically certified, free-trade Puro coffee also deserves a mention.
Of course the other food stalls are just as tempting and include, amongst others the Photosynthesis Tea Garden, Chai’s Place and Pizzazz which serves mouth-watering pizzas and burgers. Around Christmas time the menus take on a distinctive Christmas flavour and most meals can usually be enjoyed against a backdrop of live music courtesy of the market’s musicians who play on a specially built platform at the Photosynthesis Tea Garden.
The market is special and all it takes is a brief visit to confirm this fact. The stalls owners are friendly, the products are glorious and the quaint, cottage-like setting, which is softened by a number of indigenous plants (of course), allows one to forget that in fact, you’re walking around in the middle of a built up Johannesburg suburb which is highly appealing in its own right.