It all started with the opening of the Neighbourgoods Market in Woodstock more than ten years ago. The fresh food and veggie market at the Old Biscuit Mill soon became the natural gathering point for Capetonians who wanted to be part of a world-community of conscious consumers.
Today, food markets for independent local farmers and artisanal food producers have become popular destinations around the city and its neighbouring communities.
Neighbourgoods Market is open every Saturday from 09.00. Make sure to come early because it easily gets quite packed around the cooking stalls, juice bars and beer taps. There is something for every taste bud. Curries, smoothies, dumplings, flatbreads, steaks and paella. Not to mention the famous mushroom kebabs and the seared tuna salad.
Next to the food and veggies you’ll find some of the best craft produced in Cape Town. This is the place to browse around slowly. Look at designer clothes, pottery, leatherwork, watches in bamboo and quirky trinkets. Then it’s time to enjoy the live band playing and sip a glass of wine in the sun. Word of caution. This is by far the most famous food market in Cape Town and you’ll be sharing the space with crowds of locals and tourists. To beat the lunch-rush, make it your first stop of the day.
Just as accessible (possibly even more so) but less of a tourist-magnet, is the Oranjezicht City Farm (OZCF) at Granger Bay (close to the Waterfront). OZCF started off as a city farming-project. In the beginning, the market was next to the farm but a couple of years ago it had to move for bureaucratic reasons. Despite its new location, it has kept its local feel to it. Capetonians come here to do their weekly vegetable shopping, enjoy lunch or buy compost and gardening supply. The actual garden is still situated in Oranjezicht and is open to the public. On the first Wednesday of each month, everyone is invited to come and pick their own harvests. The motto is to inspire the community to help build an alternative food system – with home-grown veggies and arrangements for where to put your compost even if you don’t have your own garden.
The market-trend has spread all over the Western Cape. In Hout Bay the market is open from Friday to Sunday, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek both have their separate markets on Saturdays. On Thursdays Earth Fair Market is gearing up for lunch-eaters on St George’s Mall, right in the middle of Cape Town. If you’re lucky you can eat and even dance in Company’s Garden on a Saturday afternoon.
The growing interest of where and how food is produced has also had some positive spin-offs in the townships. One organization that has worked with women’s empowerment and food production since the 80’s, is Abalimi Bezekhaya. The growing awareness amongst consumers has made it possible for them to start a more commercial wing of the operation. Every week, Harvest of Hope delivers vegetables to subscribers in the suburbs around the city. The fresh organic vegetable boxes make up the core of the social business enterprise where everyone is a winner.