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Posted on: Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Community markets off the beaten track

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Cape Town Markets

Cape Town Markets

It’s summer, the countdown to Christmas has already begun, and it won’t be long before everyone is bitten, or smitten, by the market bug that sees us careening off on Saturday mornings, baskets in tow, to revel in countless delicious food markets, craft markets and the like that make Cape Town such a great place to be.

Local markets turn shopping into an experience. Instead of a mall, fluorescent lighting and countless numbing shelves filled with innumerable products, the origin of which many of us will never know, we get a personal, face-to-face connection with local people who grow and make the products on display.

Community Exchange Market

Talent Exchange Market

Cape Town in particular is brimming over with markets. One’s choice on a Saturday morning is overwhelming, it’s so bountiful, and food markets abound:

The Neighbourgoods market in Woodstock, the Porter Estate Produce Market, and the Earthfair Market in Tokai, the Triangle Market in Fish Hoek, and its counterpart at De Waterkant, the Rondebosch Village Market, the Stellenbosch Fresh Goods market and its other Slow Food counterpart at Willowbridge, the Timour Hall Road Organic market in Plumstead, the Franschhoek Farmers’ market, the Stellenbosch Organic Farmers’ market, and now Eden Market in Bloubergstrand, and Natural Goods Market at Century City.

But this past weekend, I took my family off to visit two off-the-beaten track community markets. Markets that might not be on the popular ‘got-to-visit’ route, but deserve a mention nonetheless.

Community Exchange Market

Talent Exchange Market

Our first port of call was two markets at the Oude Molen Eco Village – a Talent Exchange market and alongside them, a Craft in the Park market. The Talent Exchange Market Day is exactly what it sounds – you buy goods for talents. Talents are a form of currency created by users of the Community Exchange System (CES), a way of breaking free of the money trap.

We arrived fairly early, as our day was more than a little full, and already traders were setting up stalls. In particular the book stall right at the edge of the market, which happily and sedately settled in amongst the beautiful trees at Oude Molen, was a find. Whilst Henry trades in fine books, old and new, during the week from his new independent book store called Folio just next door to Jaqui Daya, the Good Food Store in Newlands (a way of combining book combing and good coffee for those after a rainy day haunt!) he also accepts Virtual Rand – another way of trading similar to Talents.

Community Exchange Market

Talent Exchange Market

The Talent Exchange market doesn’t only trade in talents, although those who do put up signs saying ‘talents accepted here’. What I love about this market, and its emphasis on recycled and home-made goods, is some of the original ideas. Someone had created a ‘coffee space’ simply with a pretty Indian spread on the grass, a sign that said ‘coffee nook, talents accepted’ and an array of books in which to indulge whilst sipping.

Others were selling plants and herbs, organic vegetables, handmade clothes and any number of bootsale items, which proffered exciting rummaging moments. CES markets always make for some fine ‘people watching’ opportunities, so the coffee rug would have come in handy!

Next door, the Craft market didn’t show too much originality, although there were some stalls worth a lingering moment for stocking fillers. The location though is lovely, with wonderful views of the mountain, surrounded by the goings on of the eco village – it’s a fine way in which to spend a Saturday morning.

Menngos Market

Menngos Market

Next stop was the Menngos Slow Food Community Market, which, Petrina’s email to us had assured, was aimed at supplying traditional foods and healthy produce sold at affordable prices, as a way to build the local community in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. It took place in the main hall of the Lansdowne Methodist Church

The stalls were a mix of organic produce, grown in the Menngos market garden, traditional foods and handmade art and craft, and the place was humming with supporters, whilst the children practised their social skills on the jumping castle just outside the hall.

There were organic plants, vegetables, olives, onion marmalade, strawberries, halaal rotis and curry, boerewors rolls, vegetarian meals, snacks, sweets, organic jams, lemon atchar, homemade breads, konfyt, and a stall selling green clay beauty products.

There is a movement of people in the southern Cape Flats who are producing high quality produce and products at very affordable prices, and the emphasis on Cape Malay foods and vegetarian fare was evident. It’s a great way to stock up for those evening curries with friends, or Christmas gifts.

We came away laden with goodies, and gifts, and thoroughly impressed with markets that are serving the community directly.

Useful Links:
Cape Town Farm Stalls & Markets
Cape Town Arts & Crafts
Things to Do in Cape Town
Cape Town holiday accommodation


Photographs: Taken at Oude Molen Eco Village and Menngos Slow Food Community Market:

Wanda Coustas


Wanda Coustas has written in one form or another for 10 years, seven of them as a copyblogger. She has travelled the Western Cape extensively and the rest of the country in protracted road trips that have given her both joy and an ongoing relish for experiencing what she writes about first-hand. She is a trained opera singer, poet, eurythmy dancer, philosopher, and bee whisperer.

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