Shoppers get fresh with local farmers

The Stacy Watler Agricultural
Pavilion may seem quiet throughout the week. But on Saturday mornings the Lower
Valley facility is flooded with farmers and organic food enthusiasts alike.

Cayman’s fresh produce market
caters to early risers, with doors opening from as early as 5.30am. With a
closing time of noon, the saying the early bird gets the worm applies here. Or,
in this case, the early shoppers get the goods.

One of those attendees who choose
from the array of fruits, vegetables and craftwork on display is Brit Linda Brown.
Last Saturday she passed by and got a white turnip, basil and string beans from
vendor Patrick Paton and his stand for East End Garden and Gifts. Brown says
that, for her, coming to the market is a must.

“I’ve been in Cayman eight years
and I come to the market regularly,” Brown said. “I love it. It’s all organic
and not treated with preservatives or pesticides. It’s great to not pay
transport costs for things like you would in the supermarket, and also you’re
buying something grown locally. I find it tastes better because it’s like
picking out of your own garden.”

The Spotts resident went on to say
that attending the market is an event, as she invites friends to join her in
the hunt.

“I encourage my friends to come.
It’s a word-of-mouth thing. We’ll get together and come down to buy things for
the home. There are a lot more stalls than there used to be, so there’s more
variety for us as a result. In a way it’s exciting because you’re not sure what
you’re going to get.”

Many of the vendors are preparing
for customers like Brown from dawn. Many sellers represent farms nearby the
pavilion. Among them is Donovan McDonald who works for Sparkies Amazing Farm.
He says he is part of a small outfit that produces a number of goods like sugar
cane, cucumber and pumpkin.

“I normally work on the farm as one
of a handful of employees,” McDonald said. “This is the first time I’ve been to
the market for a long time. All we have here is fresh stuff. It was picked on
Friday and then brought to be sold Saturday morning. It’s a nice feeling to
meet the people and sell the things I helped produce.

“The market as a whole is just a
fulfilling experience. I enjoy answering questions about the characteristics of
the goods, like how they were harvested, how to care for them and so on.”

Interestingly, McDonald says the
market has not proven to be a great revenue-earner for the farm. But he does
say that it’s good for exposure for the outfit and for produce connoisseurs.

“From what I can see, business at
the market is sometimes up and sometimes down. We’ve had people come by lately,
but it’s not as much as before. We’ll probably see more in the coming months. I
think being at the market is important, not from the monetary side, but for the
people here. It’s worth it selling local things to visitors and residents
alike. Nothing beats selling something locally grown. It’s good for the people
of this land to consume what is grown on this land.”

CAYLIFElocalMarketSTORY

Shoppers have to come early to get the goods.
Photo: Matthew Yates
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