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Market blooms as local farmers shine

August 15 - 21, 2018

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Market blooms as local farmers shine

Every Saturday, starting at the beginning of December, Bahrainis and expats flock to the flourishing Farmers Market in Budaiya Garden to soak up the sunshine, snap up fresh local produce and picnic in the community park on traditional breakfast.

When the market comes to an end, it leaves many of its followers waiting in anticipation.

However, farmer fans can now enjoy the kingdom’s locally grown goods along with non-Bahraini products at a permanent fixture every year from July to October in Hoorat A’ali.

Earlier in March, Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, wife of His Majesty the King, President of the Supreme Council for Women and National Initiative for Agricultural Development (NIAD) Consultative Council President launched another Farmers Market to establish an agricultural ecosystem that will encourage and revitalise the growth of Bahraini crops as well as empower local farmers.

The massive building, which houses 32 booths selling Bahraini crops and other items such as handmade carpets and fans as well as plants and flowers, was financed by Tamkeen and the Bahrain Development Bank and opened in partnership with the NIAD, the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning and the Department of Agricultural and Marine Resources.

Princess Sabeeka believes that this market is an excellent platform to promote and expand green spaces in Bahrain as well as provide farmers a place to exchange their expertise to better enhance the quality of their goods in order to compete with foreign products and meet part of Bahrain’s food security.

Farmer Hussain Ali, who works for Syed Ebrahim Jaffar Farm, is delighted with the new location and is looking forward to greeting more people to his stall which features products such as cherries for BD3 a kilo, peaches for BD3 a kilo and Bahraini mangoes for BD2 a kilo.

He said: “This market is excellent and Alhamdulillah we are getting visitors, although it could be better. In Budaiya, we attract more visitors because its outdoors and the park is beautiful. But now, when Saturday’s farmers market ends, this one will then open and it will keep us busy.

“The customers will love it too. They can go on Saturday for a change of scenery and then in the summer you have an air-conditioned market.”

The industrial-designed facility offers a recycled and loft-style feel with its wooden stalls and benches and metallic counter tops. As visitors weave through the market, friendly farmers are proudly showcasing their greens and greeting customers with several samples to entice the sale.

Every booth features different vegetables and fruits including favourites such as kale which is popular amongst health fanatics.

Flight attendant Carolyn Eccles, 38, visits the market around once-a-week to purchase several vegetables.

Carolyn, who lives in Juffair, said: “They have really nice kale here but unfortunately they don’t have it at this time of year because it’s really hot. I make a lot of green juices so I tend to buy a lot of vegetables such as cucumbers and celery. I love coming to this market as its quiet and cool.  I used to go to the one in Budaiya every Saturday but its only Saturday morning and if you miss it then you have to wait a week. I love that this market is a permanent fixture and has longer timings.”

Shopper Hanan Mohammed, 35, loves that the market isn’t far from her home in Isa Town and makes the short trek a few times-a-month with her family and friends to stock up on vegetables and fruits.

She said: “The prices at the market are pretty good and I get a lot of great vegetables for salads. I love that this market is indoor, air conditioned and looks chic too. It’s more elegant and spacious.”

The market also includes booths boasting handicrafts such as Um Mohammed Sefafa’s basket weaving area. According to her friend Kadhem Ali, who handles her stall when she is unavailable, Um Mohammed has been weaving baskets, carpets, bags and other items for years. She launched the stall around five months ago.

He said: “Sometimes she makes the goods from home and other times she is weaving here. Her booth has attracted visitors interested in old style chicken cages, bread baskets, fans, picnic baskets, table tops and more.” Prices for her items start from BD1.

After a day of shopping, customers can still delight in a traditional breakfast, which is a Farmers Market staple every Saturday, or from a selection of burgers and croissants.

Instead of picnicking on the grass, people can feast in a dedicated area featuring benches and tables with a friendly janitorial team waiting on the side-lines to keep the place in tip-top shape.

Chef Manal Al Abbassi’s Fatima Gül Café dishes out delicious breakfast treats such as Turkish-style eggs, tikka roub sajj and halloumi and zaatar sandwich made fresh every day. The 39-year-old mother-of-three who lives in Janabiyah, said: “I have been running my Fatima Gül Café and Restaurant for the past five years in Janabiyah and I opened the café at this market four months ago. I only serve breakfasts with a dish of the day for lunch from time to time such as madrouba (beaten rice) and warak enab (vine leaves). Some days I receive a lot of hungry customers and some days it’s still quiet as not many people know about this place yet. However, I did notice that our visitors are a mix of locals and expatriates.

“I love cooking here especially as I can pick up any vegetable I want from the market. I can come up with a dish on the spot or let the vegetables on sale guide me. This market is a great concept.”

After breakfast, cool down with some Japanese ice cream from the Kane Mochi stall featuring coloured egg-shaped scoops.

According to its sales executive Cherelyn Torrequemada, it’s gluten free ice cream covered in sticky rice with no added food preservatives.

The market is open to the public every day, except on Sunday, from 8am to 3pm.

To find out more about the new Farmers Market, follow its Instagram account @farmersmarketbh

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