The last few years have seen a number of new markets emerging in the upmarket suburbs of Harare focusing on fresh, healthy food and delicious homemade gourmet treats. This is in line with a growing worldwide trend away from highly processed foods produced on a commercial scale using artificial fertilizers and pesticides, and an increasing shift towards a more natural and eco-friendly way of living and eating.
Most of the products on sale are not available elsewhere – certainly not in the major supermarket chains. The majority of the stall holders are small scale, local producers and their offerings are necessarily governed by seasonal availability.
There are numerous benefits for all concerned. For buyers they can be assured that the produce is fresh and grown or prepared with organic principles in mind. Many products are cheaper than they would be in large retail stores as there less cost involved in processing, freezing, packaging and merchandising, and as most of the produce is local there is less transportation cost. There’s also a bigger variety on offer, like free range eggs and poultry, handmade cheeses, pickles and breads, and homemade cakes, biscuits and sweet treats. For consumers a trip to the farmers’ market is more relaxed than the supermarket and it’s a more sociable event where shoppers can meet up with friends and neighbours and even enjoy a coffee or a light meal.
For producers it’s a great way to market their wares. Producers can introduce new varieties on a small scale and it’s easier to gauge the buying public’s response.
Most of the markets have diversified slightly to include handmade crafts and speciality stalls. Some sellers only go to one of the weekly markets while others go to two or three so each market has its own flavour and unique atmosphere.
Amanzi Fresh Food Fair takes place every Friday morning from 9am to 1 pm at Amanzi Restaurant on Enterprise Road. There’s ample safe off street parking and the gardens and water features alone are worth the visit. Amanzi has a fairly strict policy and concentrates on food and beverages with no craft stalls. There fresh and organic fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds, yoghurt and dairy products. There are homemade pickles and preserves, delicious Greek delicacies, artisanal breads, cakes and biscuits and even readymade convenience meals prepared with the fresh ingredients. Rest your weary feet at The Shop Café @ Amanzi for a coffee and a slice of cake or enjoy their delicious vegetarian buffet. A percentage of the proceeds go to help support ZNSPCA.
Upmarket on Maasdorp Avenue is the biggest and busiest of them all. It’s frequented by ex-pats and diplomatic staff from the Embassies in Belgravia, so it has a very cosmopolitan feel. There’s a barista mobile cart at the entrance so you can get your caffeine fix while you’re there. The market is open every Wednesday and Saturday morning, with Wednesdays focusing more on food while Saturdays have a larger craft component. There’s a very wide range of foods – from fresh mushrooms to Indian and ethnic foods, as well as lots of fresh baked goodies and even French crepes prepared as you watch. They sell beauty products, jewellery, antiques and collectables, fine art, and clothing. There are new and old books on sale. There’s Madd on Flowers and The Cellar wine store, both of which are open daily. Just next door is The Bottom Drawer for fabulous teas and light meals. Across the road is the fairly new Maasdorp Market, which although independent feels like an extension of Upmarket. It’s not as busy but there are some special stalls there – free range ducks and duck eggs, fresh tofu and a stall selling fried Oriental dumplings and beef skewers. The only downside is that there is only on street parking available and when it’s busy you might have to leave your car at quite a distance and negotiate your way through the street vendors.
The newest kid on the block is the market at The Jam Tree in Mount Pleasant which is open on Thursday mornings. At the moment it’s still fairly small so it has a friendlier neighbourhood atmosphere and all the stalls are under cover, so there’s no chance of being rained out. Most of the stall holders here don’t sell at the other markets so it’s a bit special and different. One exception is Lushgreen Organics, which is one of the few suppliers that operates at all three markets, selling a unique range of healthy and unusual products. There is fresh produce as well as homemade pickles and dips, cakes and goodies and home cooked frozen meals. They also have clothing, jewellery and health and beauty products as well as selected crafters. The Jam Tree Restaurant is perfect for a coffee, a drink or a light meal.
Shopping for good food and great gifts has never been easier, so get out there and support our local producers.