Two weekends ago, Jessica, Emily and I headed out bright and early to catch the opening weekend for two Somerset West markets, namely the brand new Paardevlei Farmers Market and the reopening (following the disastrous storm damage earlier in the year) of the enjoyable Lourensford Harvest Market.
Paardevlei is a massive 700 ha area of land that used to belong to explosives manufacturer AECI, and which has since been bought and rezoned by the City of Cape Town. The property is home to three heritage buildings designed by Sir Herbert Baker, and is currently a mixture of things, including high-end residential units, business units, a Cheetah Outreach programme, a brand new hospital, a brewery (Triggerfish), and a host of very rundown industrial-looking sites – and then there is of course the revitalized vlei itself.
Anyway, Paardevlei Farmers Market, run by Elsje Schoeman, is certainly brand new – and unfortunately it shows.
First problem – it’s quite tricky to find it, given Paardevlei’s size, and rundown, work-site nature (further in). Whilst I love the outdoor art installations that line the newer, developed roads, this didn’t help one bit in finding the actual market, meaning that in the end I gave up and followed everyone else, eventually arriving at the place we needed to be.
In other words, signage. They’re going to need a lot of it. (On that note, they should actually take a leaf out of the excellent Century City Natural Goods Market’s signage approach, who share a similar problem of being tricky to find! I remember this well, seeing as we used to trade there quite often back in the day…)
The market itself is housed inside what appears to be a disused factory building, meaning tights spaces, dark spots, and when there are lots of people milling about inside, a hint of claustrophobia. That said, the live music created a lively atmosphere and you certainly could’t fault the vibe one bit.
All the usual food-based and fresh produce type stalls were present and accounted for, and I’m sure over the next couple of weeks some more craft stalls will throw their lot in as well.
There isn’t much public seating available yet, and things do feel a little primitive at the moment (though perhaps that is part of the charm), but there is plenty of parking in what at the end of the day is quite an interesting area and not one that locals find themselves ever visiting.
However, the tight, noisy, busy spaces wasn’t ideal for me, my toddler or my four year old little girl, and so we didn’t hang around for very long at all!
Already a favourite of ours, Lourensford Harvest Market is a much more kid friendly market, and I’m happy to report, the structural changes made following the storm damage is definitely all on the positive side (though I am a little sad to lose the grass area).
The first big change is how you access the market – essentially they’ve now rerouted the parking to a field behind the market, where you can take either a convenient tractor ride or short stroll along the ground road, past the vineyards (in bloom!) to the new main entrance for the market (although it doesn’t look like the main entrance at all – signage, signage, signage!).
Lots of new seating options have been added, the grass area swapped out for a gravel covered one (allows for more tables to be put down), and of course, sturdier roof structures covering the main stall layout (which hasn’t changed at all in case you were wondering).
No fresh produce, but loads of food and craft stalls, and of course, the live music was an absolute treat. There is space, a giant jumping castle field for the kids, and a good vibe – meaning that this was a much better market for the girls and me!
We bought a new bedtime story book, ate pancakes (damn it Pure Pancakes, fix your recipe already so that my mouth doesn’t dry out and taste of baking powder at the end of each pancake devouring session), and indulged in some delicious chocolate fudge (which the girls couldn’t get enough of!)
Oh, and Jessica’s favourite part without a doubt was the tractor ride back up to the car at the end of a ‘lekker’ morning out with my girls! :)