x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai's Farmers' Market to kick off with greater variety

Dubai's first Farmers' Market this year has added four new farmers that will provide a greater variety of produce through the growing season.

People shopping at the Baker and Spice Framers Market at Souk Al Bahar on Friday, April 8, 2011 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
People shopping at the Baker and Spice Framers Market at Souk Al Bahar on Friday, April 8, 2011 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

DUBAI // Four more farms will set up stalls at Dubai’s first farmers' market this year, providing shoppers with a greater variety of produce through the growing season.

The farmers' market, organised by the Baker and Spice cafe chain in Dubai, will now offer produce from seven farms in Al Khawaneej, Sharjah, Liwa in the Western Region and Al Ain.

"Others will come along as their growing season kicks in," said Yael Meija, the founder of Baker and Spice.

The market's fourth season is expected to begin in the second or third week of November.

"We're already getting tomatoes, aubergines, wild and local rocket, peppers of various colours, cucumbers and some herbs like fresh basil," said Ms Meija.

"As the season progresses, there’s lots more including radishes, onions, spring onions, lots more herbs, fresh peas, cabbages, broccoli and celery."

The market also offers Indian organic produce such as rice, lentils, spices and legumes.

After Souk Al Bahar and Al Manzil in Downtown Dubai, the market opened its third site in February at Marina Promenade on Saturdays.

Many of the farmers participating in the market also supply produce to Union Co-op supermarkets. "They're good because their vegetables are not pre-packaged," said Ms Meija.

But not all supermarkets are good at promoting local produce, she said. "Supermarkets are not your best friend. They will put it in front of you and hope you're not that informed and you won't ask questions."

Ms Meija said shoppers were not making local food enough of a priority. "I thought people would just jump at the opportunity to do the right thing and buy what's better for them. It seems that either it's not on everybody's agenda or it's not as important to some people."

Dubai resident Razanne Ali admits she never thought of local produce in the UAE. "Seeing as we live in the desert, I never really thought local vegetables could beat the imports we get here," she said. "I've heard about all these local markets opening and I think I might give them a try because imported food doesn’t always last that long or taste that good."

For Ms Meija, the problem lies in awareness. "There's a huge information gap still," she said. "You're so used to seeing things all year round, all the time, everywhere that you lose the sense of 'how come?' Nothing grows all year round in the same place all the time. This has become the new normal."

The market will be open in city-centre locations on Fridays and in the Marina on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.

cmalek@thenational.ae