Produce markets are becoming de rigueur around the world as consumers move towards fresh, regional food. It was only a matter of time before Cayman joined the party.
The Weekly Market at Camana Bay is encouraging this ethos with a range of local produce and crafts.
Held every Wednesday in the ambient Gardenia Court, the Weekly Market is the perfect place to sample the many tastes of the island, from the spicy tang of pepper jelly to deliciously ripe tomatoes.
The initiative was born out of the success of the Market at the Grounds, which the town hosts every quarter. Ken Hydes, manager of Camana Bay’s Town Centre, says the aim was to encourage a sense of community and inspire locals to buy from their own backyard.
“People worldwide are rediscovering the benefits of buying local and a weekly market day has become a part of normal life in towns and villages everywhere,” Ken explains.
“At Camana Bay, we see this weekly ‘ritual’ as being the cornerstone of community life, providing benefits to individual vendors and consumers but also downtown business owners and the community as a whole.”
Although the Weekly Market was intended to showcase fresh produce, it has expanded to include hot food, homemade bread and arts and crafts. It is home to an expanding array of vendors, including Stingray Kisses, which produces mini doughnuts, Chef John BBQ and Willies Fresh Fruit and Vegetables. The vendors each have something unique to offer consumers but the main focus is on providing local goods.
“For those who live, work and play at Camana Bay, the Weekly Market is a convenient way to purchase fresh, flavourful produce and locally-made products,” Ken says. “And for visitors, it’s a great way to meet local people, sample local foods and learn about local culture. We definitely see the Weekly Market evolving and growing to include different types of vendors.”
Dawn McTaggart is a regular vendor at the Weekly Market, where she sells organic bread at her stall, The Bread of Life. It is bread “as nature intended,” explains Dawn, who bakes all the bread herself using freshly milled, organic flour.
“I go to the Market at the Grounds [every Saturday in Lower Valley] and I also come here to the quarterly market,” Dawn says. “But I found some people wouldn’t go to the Grounds, and some people wouldn’t come to Camana Bay, so with the Weekly Market, we have the best of both worlds.”
Dawn has been making bread for her family for years, but it was at the encouragement of her daughter-in-law that she decided to sell her products. Her bread is available in both sweet and savoury varieties, including Seven Grain, Pumpkin and Raisin, White Wheat, Red Wheat, Cinnamon and Raisin, and Onion and Poppyseed. She also offers spelt and gluten-free bread. A percentage of the profits from The Bread of Life are donated to help special needs children.
“There are no preservatives. We use as organic ingredients as possible,” Dawn says. “You can give this bread to your kids. After eating this bread, your body will thank you.”
The quality and convenience of the Weekly Market is winning over customers. In half an hour, a dozen people stopped by Dawn’s store and more were meandering through the sprawl of vendors.
So, what does Dawn love about the Weekly Market?
“We’re like a little family here,” she says with a laugh.