I have always been fascinated by markets although I am not fond of crowds. Why do people from different places and backgrounds like to flock together around food and drink and other random products, and how do these products end up together at these markets? I suppose there are quite a number of answers to the first part of the question, but it is the second part that I would like to explore in the next few months as I venture from market to market and discover interesting and tasty products and the people behind it.
My first stop was at the quite new but increasingly popular Root44 Market situated between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. This market, the brain child of Trevor Strydom and Richard Downing, started with 60 traders on 12 January this year. They now have 130 traders with a wide variety of stalls, trading in the three huge Downing tents come rain or shine – drawing about 7000 people on a good weather weekend. They cater for old and young with live entertainment over lunch and enough covered play areas for kids of all ages (I tried my luck at the shooting alley and was surprised that my shooting skills did not deteriorate too much since I last participated in target shooting at school). For the more adventurous families, Root44 Market joined the Parkrun movement and now every Saturday morning kicks off with a timed 5km run at 8am. In the busy food tent, the heart of the market, it is difficult to choose between typically South African favourites such as vetkoek, pannekoek, roosterkoek and jaffles, and the more exotic offerings of sushi, bratwurst, nacchos, Hungarian chimney twists and even pan fried duck.
The 3D puzzles of Chantal Froneman’s Xplore Designs (www.xploredesigns.co.za) caught our eyes first. My son lost his heart on a helicopter and in the end we just had to go back for it. According to Chantal, her partner is very much a child at heart, and he came up with the idea of 3D puzzles for kids. It is a fun, educational alternative for kids to activate their minds, rather than sitting in front of TV screens and play stations. The whole family can be involved in piecing the puzzle together. They also have décor products such as wall art, clocks and cake stands.
Chantal and her partner, who runs his own business, live in Strand. He helps her whenever he can during the week and over weekends at the markets. During the week Chantal is kept busy with Xplore Designs, getting ready for the next weekend’s markets and any other work that comes in. Working every weekend can be challenging – especially over the Christmas season when they work seven days a week. Then there is little time for family or for themselves, but according to Chantal their families understand the pressures of running a business.
Root44 Market is special for Chantal because it is indoors and can be enjoyed anytime of the year. “There is something for everyone of all ages to enjoy which means a great day out for the entire family.”
At Lynn Denyssen we had a pit stop for lunch – although her handmade chocolates were very tempting, the kids opted for fresh roosterkoek with butter, and homemade gingerbeer. My eldest daughter wanted to go back for roosterkoek the following day!
Lynn says her products are unique and that she only sells products that she would eat herself. She studied practical cookery and kitchen management, and then also got trained as pastry chef. She aims to deliver good food which is value for money.
Home for Lynn is on a small farm close to the community of Raithby where she lives with her parents and brother. Her mom grows organic strawberries and passionfruit (which she uses for her famous homemade passionfruit ice tea). Her father is supporting her career by building her a coffee shop next to their house.
As she loves what she does, Lynn does not mind working over weekends. During the week she and her boyfriend, Allvin George, make decorated wedding and birthday cakes and prepare for the weekend’s markets. Because of her busy life, she misses the family time, but it helps that they are regulars at Root44 Market.
The thing Lynn likes most about Root44 is the atmosphere. “You can sit underneath the big trees listening to music and enjoying the smells of all the good food.”
You go girl! Let us know as soon as your coffee shop is up and running – we will definitely visit! Lynn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .
In Part 2 of this series, we will meet an inspired cancer survivor who exchanged the rat race of finance and IT for his food passion, a lady originally from Natal who now likes to spice up the Boland with her North Indian cuisine, and finally a lady who was handed a bag of lemons and decided to make lemon curd.