Vendors reap market benefits

Market at the Grounds gets high marks

Local agriculture has steadily gained momentum in recent months. Proof of that can be seen with the Market at the Grounds attracting farmers and craftsmen.

Last weekend was a special event: the Taste of the Agriculture Show. The Stacy Watler pavilion in Lower Valley saw extra vendors and patrons as details around the 44th annual Agricultural Show (which takes place 9 March) were released.

Among those present was Patrick Patton of Garden and Gifts.

A regular at the market, the American farmer, whose father was born in Cayman, has been in agriculture for years. Mr. Patton, who moved to Cayman in 1995, says the market is a worthwhile venture.

“I started having a stall here two years ago back in January 2009,” he said. “I started as a plant vendor only. I joined the market to get more exposure and make plant sales. But I decided to plant food and sell that because I was late in the game and other farmers had established clientele.

I had to offer something different with things like purple tomatoes.“It has been good and I’m looking to capitalise on being here. With all of the nationalities we have now, people don’t understand that many of them are used to buying fresh produce where they come from.”

Mr. Patton’s take on the market is interesting considering his recent adventures in farming. His farm recently relocated from East End to Bodden Town and he has specialised in growing exotic produce

. He says business has been decent.

“The company started being called East End Garden and Gifts and did landscaping and lawn maintenance. Farming only came about recently. The focus now is to grow things other people are not growing.

Sure, we do standard things like pumpkin and lettuce, but we also do Asian and mustard greens that offer an array of nutrients.

“Ivan kicked us out of East End. We have 10.5 acres in Bodden Town now with one-and-a-half acres being developed and an acre for farming. The plan is to use four acres for tomato growing. We really look forward to tomato season as we can do green and yellow tomato crops. Also we’ll do heirloom tomatoes as they are popular. After doing a taste test with them, we found people really like them.”

Farmers are not the only ones flocking to the market. A number of people involved in local craft work are attracted to the Lower Valley site.

One of them is Cira Bush. The Bodden Town resident is originally from the Dominican Republic and has been in Cayman since 1993. Bush, who has a day job and sells paintings and crafts on the side, says the market is a good outlet for locals.

“This is my first time coming to the market,” Ms Bush said. “I signed up to sell prints and original crafts. I love it; it’s very friendly and open. It’s nice because the tourists feel very comfortable in more ways than one.

I had a lot of sales today as I sold about $250 worth of stuff. I’ll definitely try to come here more often. I love it here.”

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