This story was updated on 21 January 2019.
Plan your weekends around local country markets and stock up on fresh, homemade treats. These are our favourites in and around KwaZulu-Natal…
Have you heard of KZN’s bartering markets?
1. The Litchi Orchard Night Market, Salt Rock
A monthly night market (there’s also a morning market on the second Saturday of every month from 9am to 1pm) aimed at the family in the holiday spot of Salt Rock. Pets are welcome (on leads). As the name suggests, the market is in a litchi orchard where there’s delicious local food (think home-made curries), live music, original handmade arts and crafts and, when in season, litchis. Get comfy on a hay bale or roll out your picnic blanket and indulge in your purchases. Don’t miss out on home-made ice cream, artisan croissants and gourmet feta.
- When: Last Friday of the month, 5pm to 9pm
- Where: Seaforth Drive
2. Bellevue Market, Kloof
This artisanal market focuses on local talent in the beautiful courtyard setting of the Bellevue Campus with its large trees and architecturally interesting buildings. So expect home-made delicacies like preservative-free pâtés, organic butters and cheeses, smoked trout and gluten-free falafels. Sip on craft beer and local wine and browse the home-decor stalls. There’s also a very good coffee vendor. (Stalls vary from month to month). Live music and, later on, starry skies and moonlight add to the atmosphere of this market.
- When: From May to September on the last Friday of the month, 4pm to 8pm
- Where: 5 Bellevue Road
3. Shongweni Farmers & Craft Market, Shongweni
The early bird catches the worm at this family- and dog-friendly country market, where you can start with breakfast enjoyed on a hay bale and spend the rest of your morning browsing and tasting your way through the many stalls. There’s excellent coffee to keep you going (add a tot of brandy or home-made liqueur), sinful pastries and Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, French and English delicacies. Don’t miss out on Chrissie Briscoe’s extraordinary cheeses and duck confit from the Duck Lady.
- When: Saturdays 6:30am to 11:30am
- Where: Lot 457, Mr551, Shongweni
4. Dargle Local Market, Dargle
This small country market’s vendors are all from Dargle, their goods locally produced and as fresh as can be. The seasons largely dictate what’s for sale and so each market is different. In the main, though, you’ll find veggies and fruit, free-range eggs and chickens, dairy products from pasture-fed Jersey cows, home-baked bread, bottled preserves, lemon cordial, heirloom seeds, biltong, and, to eat while you shop, delicious ciabatta sandwiches and good, old-fashioned bacon and egg rolls.
- When: First Sunday of the month, 8:30am to 11:30
- Where: Lion’s River Country Club – R103, take Dargle Road turn-off
5. Midlands Country Market, Lidgetton
Regulars in the know, as well as tourists, flock to this lovely country market with its view over the Caversham Valley. Local, fresh, wholesome and artisanal products are the flavour of the day, such as home-baked bread, farm-fresh yoghurt, double-yolk eggs, Vietnamese spring rolls and seasonal jams. The waffles and German sausages are legendary. Lions River craft beers are enjoyed on the lawns and ad hoc bagpipe performances are a delight. Other stalls include gemstones and crystals, beadwork and natural skincare products.
- When: Third Sunday of every month, 9am to 2:30pm
- Where: Peter’s Gate Farm, on the R103
6. Karkloof Farmers’ Market, Howick
One for the early risers, this indoor market supports local farmers and producers in the KZN Midlands. Start off by tucking into a hearty breakfast or a stack of delicious pancakes, then fill your picnic basket with items the market is known for – organic cheese and yoghurt, Wedgewood nougat, Nguni biltong and newly harvested fresh produce and herbs.
- When: Every Saturday, 7am to 11am
- Where: Along the Karkloof Road, 2.6km from Howick
7. Rosetta Country Market, Rosetta Village Lake
The picturesque setting of this market on the lake entices you to stay all day long. Great breakfasts and coffee are available, before you browse the stalls with all that locally grown and made produce you’ve been hunting down forever – fresh veg, farm cheese, free-range eggs and milk, quiches, cured meats and lamb. There are also craft beers and even Banters are catered for with a stall especially for them. Those looking for unique arts and crafts are at the right place – there are beautiful paintings, greeting cards and soft, knitted scarves. You can also take home a pot plant or hanging basket of petunias. A ‘pay it forward’ community stall sells surplus fruit and veg and small-batch homemade products from locals, with the proceeds going towards charity.
- When: Every 2nd and 4th Saturday, 8am to 12pm
- Where: Kamberg Road (about 500m from R103 on the left)
8. Blythedale Coastal Adventure Market, Blythedale
A dirt road through sugar and gum plantations and exquisite coastal forest leads unexpectedly to a big, open area, the Blythedale events bowl, site of the Blythedale Coastal Adventure Market. As the name implies, this is not a traditional market, more a Country Fair. An abundance of activities like giant inflatables, Segways, paintball, trampolines, and pony rides ensure that children aren’t bored. Many stalls are geared toward that set too: toys, clothes, sweets, toffee apples – there’s no shortage of interest for the young ones. That aside, there are the more usual market stands. Food
vendors are mostly housed on one levelled area, and non-food stalls on another. Vendors change from week to week but the day I visited, the fare and wares included craft rum, veggies, beautiful artisan breads and patisseries (a market wouldn’t be a market without those), sensational ice-cream macarons, decor items, and lots of jewellery. This being the KZN North Coast, curry plays a leading role, while in the entertainment tent, musicians play their role too. But if it all gets too much, you might want to retire to the Bush Bar in the cool coastal forest behind the dunes. Just take the Blythedale exit off the N3. Signage along the road leading to Blythedale indicates where to turn off on the dirt road to the events bowl.
- When: Every Sunday from 9am to 4pm.
- Where: 4449 Blythedale Beach, Durban
9. Howick Exchange Market, Howick
News about barter markets in the KZN Midlands intrigued me, so I meandered up to one in Howick. I arrived to a convivial and informal scene where market goers were spreading homegrown/
home-made produce and other goods on the ground, before getting down to some gentle bartering. Not a cent changed hands, the values of items based not on any fiscal system, but on some other indefinable notion of worth. So, for example, I saw a loaf of artisan bread go for a packet of heirloom seeds; a bunch of beautiful beetroot for a tub of tree tomatoes; proteas for a pair of tights. There was no noisy haggling, just quiet agreement as items changed hands. Some barter markets do allow for payment in hard cash for those who have nothing else to offer, but at Howick, money is taboo. Currency is thus something you’ve baked or grown; or books you’ve loved; flowers from your garden; clothes in good condition or anything that others might want or need.
- When: The second Wednesday of the month from 8:30am to 10am and the last Saturday of the month from 9:30am to 1pm.
- Where: Howick Exchange takes place on the Miller Street Common on Ridge Road
- Contact: 083 473 3074
10. Drummond Farmer’s Market, Drummond
This is a market not to miss. Opened about six months ago, Drummond Farmer’s Market showcases the produce and products of local farmers and artisans in a truly rural setting in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Here dogs are welcome and children can play in the outdoors – there’s even a foefie slide and trampoline – while grown-ups get down to the serious business of sipping craft G&Ts as they shop for top-quality fare. And what a variety there is. From churros (Mexican doughnuts) to award-winning cheeses, biltong to burgers, quails eggs to quite irresistible cakes, skin-care products to handcrafted decor. There’s something for everyone. ‘Paint your own cookies’ was a big hit with non-adults. We went home with artisan-baked ciabatta and croissants, raw honey (the real, unadulterated thing), Jersey cream, free-range chicken, the freshest greens and a pack of clothes pegs made entirely from plastic waste.
- When: Every Sunday 9am to 2pm
- Where: 29 Thousand Hills Drive, just off Old Main Road near the Comrades Marathon halfway mark.