Published on: March 16, 2014
An island is a small place. Even when you’re from Diego Martin, it’s easy to have family dinners in Arima, have a beach day in Toco or go kite surfing in Mayaro. You could choose between your sushi on Ariapita Avenue or San Fernando and Debe is never too far for early morning doubles. Despite its smallness, somehow it can always surprise you.
No matter how well you think you know its streets, traveled its winding roads and explored every corner, there is always something you’ve missed – a corner down which you have never turned, a left where you usually make a right, or something new that popped up as if from nowhere on your regular commute when you weren’t looking.
Santa Cruz is just 6 or 7 miles away from Port of Spain, nestled in the hills of the Northern Range. As you get further and further into the valley, office buildings give way to mountains, city smog gives way to cleaner air and huge supermarkets give way to small corner stores and fruit stands amidst wealthy housing developments with pools and golf courses. It’s not far flung enough to remain unexplored, but holds a few surprises of its own.
As we discovered, it’s the perfect setting for the San Antonio Green Market, a not so new farmers market, hoping to make it’s name as the first fully organic, sustainable farmer’s market Trinidad & Tobago. Tanya and I share a love for food and the idea of fresh produce, grown organically was enough to get us out of bed before 6:00am on a Saturday morning to go searching for this new green market we’d heard of through the grapevine.
The market appears as if from nowhere. If you don’t know it’s there you could miss the turn off entirely but once you bend the corner you are in a space that seemed to have been carved out of the mountainside. Nestled within the arms of the brown and green hillside were thatched huts, wooden and stone benches and fruit and vegetables of every description. The first thing I smelled was cocoa tea; this was no manufactured powdered hot chocolate sold in commercial coffee chains, this was the real thing – grated from cocoa pods and flavoured with spices. San Antonio Green Market smells like home or what you wished your home would smell like.
From hydroponic lettuce to basil, tarragon and mint plants, large pumpkins and ground provisions to fresh coconut bake and all natural shea butter, the market signals the awakening of something fresh reemerging in Trinidad: small artisans, craftsmen and farmers coming together to offer something new and yet not so new. We’re a people of Saturday morning markets, Paramin chive, Charlotte Street vendors and roadside fruit sellers; markets aren’t new to us thought it might be easy to forget in the deluge of supermarket chains, coffee franchises and Miami styled cinemas. From this green market, to more farmers markets, to craft and jewelry markets, pop up clothing shops and vintage thrift sales, there is a movement of independent entrepreneurs that are organizing themselves in a way that is about empowerment of the seller to offer a wider array of options to the buyer. We’re interested to see how this develops.
There are worse ways to spend a Saturday morning than sipping cocoa tea on a wooden bench, high above the market, surrounded by orchids watching the soft early morning brighten, harden and bloom into being. We’re officially adding this to our weekend ritual.
Writer: Ayanna Gillian Lloyd
Writer & Editor bsed in Trinidad and Tobago