Every time I’m in Sedgefield, there are five to twelve paragliders in the sky. Just minding their own business, floating in front of the hills over the piece of Garden Route between Wilderness and Knysna. Today was no different. They were the colourful specks of peace above the swarming turmoil that was the Saturday market at Sedgefield.
Sure, the famous market area is always busy. But before my car turned into the petrol garage entrance, three minibuses full of school kids on a weekend camping trip also made their way to the already full parking lot. There seemed to be a traffic jam on only this specific spot on the N2 highway, and what baffled me most was the large presence of international faces and voices.
Passing Nibbles Cafe and a local street artist playing the guitar (and a cooldrink bottle cap that sounds like a kazoo), I enter the Wild Oats Community Farmer’s Market – the food section of the weekly market.
Visitors are met with more music as a Kaapse klopse band, dressed in powder blue, welcomes you with their traditional accordion sounds and Cape Malay voices. Fresh farm produce and organic foods are available here, and even a few foreign options such as Indian or German food stalls. All around me were people. Often I heard a Dutch accent, once or twice a French one (I think) and more than half of the visitors seemed like they were either local hippies, eccentric foreign nomads or hipster tourists. I loved it.
There’s everything from pineapples to pancakes to herbs to freshly pressed juice (I had a lemon and lime one). There are various options for healthy eaters: a plant-based deli, falafel servings and other vegan food. After walking along the circular stall collection underneath the green canopies, I decided on a chermoula chicken pita, flavoured with a spicy north-African marinade, with an option herbal salad. It was divine. To get out of the thrum of the walking shoppers, visitors can take their refreshments to a low table with chairs, all made out of tree stumps. Just don’t climb the surrounding trees. According to a very specific sign repeatedly mounted on the barks, they break easily.
The market is only open from 07:30 (08:00 during winter) until 12:00, so the best would be to get some food first before the Wild Oats market is sold out. Heading back out, I passed a mime artist – one of those who stand statue-still until you throw a coin or two in his plastic bucket. A little boy, probably about ten years old, was looking at him curiously and asked me (an innocent passer-by) if this guy was real, or just a doll. I gave him some coins and told him he’d find out if he dropped it in the bucket. He did, and the mime made a few minor shifts in position – 50 cents doesn’t get much of a show, I guess – to the delight of the ten-year-old.
Back towards the garage, the Mosaic Outdoor Market reminds me a little of the wooden arts-and-crafts stalls in the Hermanus square. I strolled through African themed animal paintings, bead ornaments, gemstone shops, jewellery and clothing stalls. You can also buy some edible goods here, such as pretzels, jam or artisan fudge. It’s also family-friendly, as the youngsters can explore the playground in the middle of the stall ‘village’ while parents lounge at picnic tables.
A singer was performing live on a makeshift stage. It made for a nice background vibe as I made my way through the stalls, back past the coffee place and the petrol garage. In addition, the guitarist with the cooldrink kazoo from before was now singing a unique rendition of ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door.’
The last stop has even more crafts for creative shoppers to see, in the form of Scarab Village at the other side of the N2 turnoff. The first attraction (distraction, for some?) is the craft beer brewery to the right or the gin bar near the building’s entrance. Another live performer was singing a Sam Smith cover and selling CD’s – it’s like the artists are just out of earshot of each other, to ensure visitors are entertained wherever they wander. An engraved wood sign describes the atmosphere perfectly: “The Artbeat of Sedgefield.” More South African crafts follow, as well as clothes, woven rugs, soap, wooden crafts, glass crockery… the list goes on.
I was always one of those children who couldn’t keep their hands behind their backs in an antique shop when their mothers scolded. So, walking through so many beautiful things, my artist’s hands were longing to feel the different textures and details… but at 23, I know better. Instead, I took it all in as I was walking back to my car at 11:30. There were even more paragliders now. I thought about the locals who host the market, the tourists and foreigners fascinated by what they find there, and my creative mind can’t help but be inspired. This place is definitely worth a second Saturday’s visit.
Liked this post? Drop me a comment in the space below – have you been to any craft markets recently?