Produce market promised

Will debut at Ag show

A fresh produce market at the 40th Annual Cayman Islands Agricultural Show will give Cayman residents a preview of what is intended to be a weekly Saturday event in Lower Valley.

‘There will be a specially laid out marketplace,’ Leader of Government Business and Minister of Agriculture Kurt Tibbetts said at the Cabinet press briefing last week. ‘In previous years, there was only [produce] that was on display.’

About 8,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Ag Show on Grand Cayman on Ash Wednesday, 21 February.

‘We want to use [the Agricultural] Show as a sort of pilot to get a good taste of how [the marketplace] will work,’ he said.

A Saturday market is something the Government has wished would happen for quite some time, Mr. Tibbetts said.

‘We wanted to make sure with a clear indication that the majority of farmers would participate,’ said Mr. Tibbetts.

Public requests that plant and seed outlets be open Saturdays led to that happening last year.

‘We’d like to accompany that with a Saturday market,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.

In addition to fresh produce, Mr. Tibbetts said he wanted to see a farmer’s market at the same locations that offered refrigerated coolers, so that local beef, mutton and pork could also be sold.

The produce market would be open to anybody with fresh fruits and vegetables to sell. The vendors would include major farmers as well as backyard growers.

‘It will probably end up with the larger farmers having the major stalls,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.

The backyard farmers might choose to wholesale their produce to the larger farmers so they didn’t have to stay at the market all day.

The Saturday market is not intended to be a stand-alone event.

‘It’s part of a bigger picture,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. Eventually, the market would become part of the agri-tourism project planned for the area.

‘We are in the closing stages of acquiring two pieces of property we need for the agri-tourism project to make sure it had enough space,’ Mr. Tibbetts said, adding that once the agri-tourism project is completed the Saturday market will become a part of the entire operation.

Mr. Tibbetts said he thought a successful Saturday market, which is intended to be open year round, would have two effects.

‘Not only will it increase demand, but supply, too,’ he said.