Last Saturday I was invited to attend the opening of the brand new Paardevlei Farmers Market on the former AECI site, and visited the Lourensford Harvest Market too, which re-opened after a building renovation and winter break. Both markets are in Somerset West, and are owned by two driven, goal-orientated entrepreneurs!
Lourensford Harvest Market
Last Saturday the Lourensford Market re-opened, after a winter and a renovation break. I had never visited this market previously, and it appears that they have made the trading structure permanent, with very neat-looking clearly-demarcated custom-made stalls, and a roof which covers all the stalls and most of the central seating piazza. Colorful paper flowers were a wish last week for Spring to make its appearance soonest!
Lourensford is a very large wine estate, and staff directed one to the market. Freshly washed cars will not do well here, as one drives on a gravel road to get to the parking, from where one can walk to the market area, not visible from the parking. A tractor and trailer takes one to the market, or one can walk to it. Parents will be delighted to see the large number of slides and jumping castles in different colors and shapes for their children. It is here that Lourensford Harvest Market owner Aleit Swanepoel saw me, and immediately offered to show me around, a welcome service. Aleit is dynamite, energetic, well-connected, loved by all, with a massive smile, and an entrepreneur de luxe (in main photograph). Outside the offices of The Aleit Group on the same property all the companies are listed, and these include their brewery A BRU, Aleit Music, a Tek, Aleit and IS Art Gallery, Lourensford Harvest Market, Aleit Events, The Aleit Academy (teaching students event planning), Stir Food (catering for events such as the Nederburg Auction next week), aFilm, and the best known of all, Aleit Wedding Coordination, his wedding creations around the world being astounding and bursting with creativity, not one wedding design looking like another! He has been appointed to coordinate the wedding of Miss South Africa Roeleen Strauss. He is extremely humble, and credits the good team that he has appointed to make the detail that he conceptualises happen.
As if Aleit did not have anything else to do, looking after his daughter at the slides, and filling time until his mother arrived to have lunch with him, Aleit walked me around the market, introducing me to some of his key traders, and arranging for me to receive a wrap at one of their stands. I was impressed with the cleanliness (there are bins everywhere), the wide aisles in-between the stands, so that one is not held up by others, and the large amount of space dedicated to seating shared with others at long tables and benches. Here I bumped into my friends Gundel and Annette Sogor, and we had a lot of catching up to do.
There were no fresh vegetables, herbs, or fruit, but it appears that this will come. Most of the stalls sell prepared foods, but there are some interior decor stands too. They open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10h00 – 15h00, some of the traders being the same on both days, and others only trading on the one or the other day. The live music did not stop while I was there, and the George Ezra-like sound was popular as the real singer was in our country last week. I saw stands selling coffee (Magnificent Barista Boys), wire art, Froggit dressings and sauces, cakes, Burger de vine custom-made hamburgers, Tao’s Yum Dim Sum & Sushi Bar, Funki Fungi, Sweet Dreams fudges, Jaffels, Hout Cuture wooden everything, Ginger & White Emporium gourmet toffee apples and chicken liver pate, Lourensford wines, A BRU craft beers, Tunisian Delights, Stokkiesdraai Biltong, a German Bratwurst stand, Tuin Jong, Mistress of Spices, Pure Pancakes, The Butcher’s Son, Lebanese Cuisine, The Eatery Bakery Bar, and many more.
The secret to Aleit’s success is his attention to detail, and his responsiveness, emailing me a list of his traders while I was there, and sending me copies of his photographs taken just before I arrived, not being sure if I could capture his market perfectly in my photographs! The traders were all very friendly, and they know that Aleit has a sharp eye on their stands and quality of produce. Aleit is hands-on at his market, and even Lourensford owner Dr Christo Wiese had come to pop in!
Lourensford Harvest Market, Lourensford Wine Estate, Lourensford Road, Somerset West. Tel 087 121 0665. www.thealeitgroup.com Twitter: @LFHarvestMarket Saturdays and Sundays 10h00 – 15h00.
Paardevlei Farmers Market
The newest market to have opened in the Western Cape is the Paardevlei Farmers Market, which opened in Somerset West last Saturday. It is run by Elsje Schoeman, who has traveled the world to research markets, and volunteered at the Oranjezicht City Farm market with co-founder Sheryl Ozinsky for three months, to learn from her. I was invited to attend the market opening, and I and fellow blogger Errieda (right) du Toit (with her husband Ian) were spoilt rotten by Elsje, who sat us down at a table, and brought platters with slices of bread, olive tapenades, cheeses, ice creams, cup cakes, cake, freshly squeezed carrot juice, and more for us to try, and to photograph.
Elsje (left) told me that the City of Cape Town has bought the 700 ha land from AECI, an explosives manufacturer, for R 400 million. The property contains 3 heritage buildings designed by Sir Herbert Baker, and which are let as office space. City of Cape Town Councillor Benedicta van Minnen sat at our table too, before she did the honors in officially opening the market. Councillor van Binnen explained that they are ‘land banking‘ the space at Paardevlei, given a future shortage of residential space to accommodate the 30% growth rate which Cape Town experienced in the past 10 years. It will become a job creation node too, she said.
It was an honor to also meet sculptor Anton Smit (right) and his painter son Lionel Smit (left). They are working with Elsje on a new 1000 m² Sculpture Park project, which will be housed elsewhere on the Paardevlei Precinct once she has obtained the approvals and has established her market, which is currently located in the Triggerfish Brewery building. Elsje is excited about the next phase of this development, describing it as ‘the Central Park of Somerset West’. She has plans to create an Academy of Artisans at Paardevlei, which will be the home of artisanal bakers, chocolate makers, as well as of art. Ultimately she would like Oranjezicht City Farm to create an Urban Farm on the land, with the permission of the City of Cape Town. The final phase is to transform staff hostels at Paardevlei into small shops, run by people who have been ‘upskilled’, Elsje shared. She will launch a Park Run in January, with Bruce Fordyce. A Cycle Route of about 10 km will be established. The Power Station building would be ideal as a wedding and an events venue, she has visualized. Her model for Paardevlei is the Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney.
Elsje is proud of her traders, many of whom have left the corporate world to set up their own small businesses, reflecting her own journey from big business, to creator of this new Market. She sources her produce from Vorentoe Boerdery in Kuilsriver, a supplier in Paarl, and JJ Organics. Elsje let me have a list of her traders, and this includes Tuist Craft Ice Cream, owned by Ziska Baumgarten, who makes natural delicious-sounding flavors such as avocado and lime, saffron and honey, rose petal, lemon meringue, apple Calvados, and Dulce de Leche; Slangbossie olives and olive products; cheeses; venison pies; lovely melktert; The Drift wines and Cluver & Jack beers by Bruce Jack, who operates from Paardevlei too; farm butter; cup cakes, mini cakes; flowers; muffins; Banting Brownies; coffees; Triggerfish craft beers; mushrooms; Orpens apple cider; homemade soaps; free-range eggs; free-range chicken; croissants; Danish; charcuterie; quiches; rusks; and much more.
It was harder to find the Market than I thought, having to use Google Maps on my phone, but that led me to a residential area called Paardevlei. Once I typed in Triggerfish, I received clear directions as to how to drive to the market. The Cheetah Outreach project is based in the Paardevlei Precinct, but is much closer to the entrance. A staff member at the boom to the precinct explains that one should just carry on straight, even if one thinks that there are no buildings left to find, when Triggerfish appears around a bend.
There is ample parking, a blessing, given what a shortage many markets have in this regard. The Triggerfish branding is visible on the building, the only sign that one has arrived at the Paardevlei market. The market signage is at the back of the building, therefore not visible when one arrives. Some of the traders set up outside, the weather having been good enough to do so, and it is clear that it is not only a food market. I saw a Bread Shack sign outside the building, and it is the bakery of Lucas Sivanjana, originally from Butterworth, who bakes daily from this space, his bread being sold with the beer inside the building. Lucas’ day starts at 3h00, and he bakes a variety of breads (rustic loaf, 50% rye, 90% rye, Farmer Brown bread, soft rolls, white sourdough, seed loaf, gluten-free bread, cinnamon rolls, baguettes, energy bread, and more), for which he would like to receive orders from local restaurants. He is proud that his breads help feed others, and that they are healthy too. His breads are organic, with no chemicals in the flour he uses.
On a grey day the building interior was quite dark, and was filled with traders’ tables, making it difficult to get through the aisles at the popular tables, especially when prams and chatting market-goers block the flow.
The Paardevlei Farmers Market is rustic and informal, with a wide mix of traders and products. Cellphone reception is poor, but the City of Cape Town Councillor plans to add a cellphone mast to address this weakness.
Disclosure: Elsje was extremely generous, packing together a bagful of treats, including an aubergine, fennel, a lemon, a bunch of flowers, a loaf of bread, a scarf, a bag of mixed vegetables, and a shopping bag.
Paardevlei Farmers Market, Triggerfish Building, Paardevlei, Somerset West. Saturdays 9h00 – 14h00 (amended on 6/9).