The Shongweni Farmers' and Craft Market started out exclusively as a farmers’ market to give the green-fingered folk of the Midlands somewhere to retail their lovingly grown and reared produce.
For most of the stall holders at the Shongweni farmers' market, organic isn’t a buzzword, but a way of life. Their commitment to their products, the environment, and their pride in the provenance of their wares means there are few better or more convivial places to shop for hormone-free meat and free-range chicken; farm-fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, cream, milk, butter, olive oils, and home-made pickles, conserves, bread and cakes.
The farmers' market in the Midlands is especially good for cooks searching for unusual and seasonal treasures. Discoveries can include guinea fowl or rabbit for a cassoulet or fresh duck eggs, forest-picked porcini, beetroot-infused cheddar cheese, or whiskey marmalade.
Moreover, there’s a genuine desire to convert visitors to a healthier way of living and eating. Vendors are chatty and generous with their tasting samples, recipes, and advice. Some, like Home Organic, aim to change the world one organic veggie garden at a time. They’ll sell you all the kit and seeds you need and ply you with free advice.
The Shongweni Farmers' and Craft Market is renowned for its hearty, healthy breakfasts. The trick is to arrive just after the market’s opened; shop a little, and then break for the Full Monty: free-range eggs, wood-smoked bacon - the works! The kids can be safely left to tear around the large lawns, visit the farm yard animals, or befriend the countless pooches patiently waiting for a morsel of sausage to ‘fall’ off a plate.
Crafts include handcrafted wooden furniture, jewellery, clothes, hats, bags, paintings and water colours by local artists and ornamental metal and stone sculptures from Zimbabwe.
By now, the hour ought to be respectable enough for you to visit the Robson’s stall. Sherene and Stuart Robson make a range of handcrafted beers at their brewery in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The pair is passionate about pairing beer with food, and they take great pleasure in recommending which smoked meats or cheeses sold at the market complement their five premium ales, or their exotic fruit beers.