A Bryanston Shopping Spree

I don’t go to Joburg’s northern suburbs often. To be honest, the northern suburbs — Sandton, Bryanston, Morningside, Fourways, etc. — remind me too much of the bland American suburbs that I fled to Africa to escape. (No offense to those who live there.  That life just isn’t for me anymore.)

But for some time I’ve wanted to visit the Bryanston Organic & Natural Market, billed as “Joburg’s original outdoor market”. I love farmers markets, and have yet to find one in Joburg that meets the high standards I developed while living in Washington D.C. I finally went to the Bryanston market yesterday with my friend David, who is a regular there.

The Bryanston market is a large warren of wooden pavilions, housing dozens of stalls. I loved it there. It’s relaxing, family-oriented, and a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon. The Bryanston market is not a farmers market though; it’s a high-end craft market that also sells specialty food products, gourmet meals, and a few fruits and veggies. My search for a “real” farmers market — one where real-life farmers come and sell large quantities of produce from the backs of their pick-up trucks — continues.

So I didn’t get my grocery shopping done at the Bryanston market. But I did buy some nice gifts and take lots of photos. Here are my favorites.

One of my favorite stalls at the market: Violet Moon Paper Craft. Everything sold here is made of recycled paper, including beautiful greeting cards that double as wall decorations.

A ceramic bowl by artist Peter Mthombeni. The bowl showcases all of his ceramic colors on the inside, and the color names on the outside. Unfortunately this bowl is not for sale.

Peter Mthombeni himself. Check out that plate behind him — Madiba and MJ!

Beaded piggy bank.

Passing the time.

Taking a break for some gelato. It tasted like regular ice cream to me though. (Photo: David Penney)

A wall of beaded sandals. I wanted some so badly but I’m too broke at the moment.

This sunny stall caught my eye instantly. The products sold here — embroidered napkins, placemats, potholders, towels, etc. — are made and sold by a group of women in Alexandra Township. I may have bought something here. I don’t want to give it away though because a person reading this post will probably receive my purchase as a gift.

Happy, the lovely lady managing the Out of Alex stall. Despite her name, I could not coax her into smiling for the camera.

Beadmaster Douglas Dawah shows me his prized creation: a one-of-a-kind beaded rooster. This is Doug’s own unique design. No other bead artist has ever created anything  quite like it. 

I struggled to capture the spirit of this glorious rooster photographically. David, a fantastic photographer and stylist, stepped in to help. (Photo: David Penney)

Recycled glassware (made of old Black Label beer bottles) from Green Glass filters the afternoon sunlight.

The Bryanston market accepts credit cards. They have a great payment system that allows you to shop all afternoon and then pay for everything at once at a central cashier. Very convenient for both the customers and the vendors. But be warned: It’s easy to overspend here. There’s lots of fabulous stuff and it ain’t cheap.

The market is open Thursdays and Saturdays from 9:00 to 3:00. I’m going for breakfast next time.

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  • Reply miadidthis April 22, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go check out that market, thanks. There is one real farmers’ market I know if, but it is in Pretoria, and even when we lived there I never went, because you have to be there at 6am already to get the good stuff! Perhaps we should brave the early morning one day and go. My friends who are regulars swear by it, and the traditional treats on sale there.

    • Reply 2summers April 22, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      Ooh, that sounds intriguing! Would love to try sometime.

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough April 23, 2012 at 1:38 am

    God, I would love that place. The beaded rooster is amazing!

    • Reply 2summers April 23, 2012 at 11:23 am

      Yes, there are tons of great crafts there. I didn’t even get the chance to look at everything.

  • Reply Gail Scott McDonnell Wilson April 23, 2012 at 7:39 am

    The Farmer’s Market in Pretoria is called the ‘Boeremark’ and held at Pioneer Park in the East of Pretoria – yes you have to be there at the crack of dawn as they close at 9h00. It’s an awesome market but if you are going in winter be sure to take a torch or lantern as it is still dark and not all the stall are well lit. (hopefully that has been sorted out by now).

    • Reply 2summers April 23, 2012 at 11:24 am

      I definitely need to check that out! Although, ouch, that’s early.

  • Reply Caitlin April 23, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Also not a real farmers market, but the closest I’ve come in terms of function is the Johannesburg fresh produce market in city deep. Definitely not organic, and no farmers in sight. But, pallets and pallets full of good quality, super fresh, cheap produce (some of which is in the backs of trucks). It’s more aimed at the produce-stall folks in town than the farmers market crowd…but it still makes a good outing 🙂

    • Reply 2summers April 23, 2012 at 11:23 am

      Yes, I’ve heard of that market and am curious to go. I need to make a plan!

  • Reply Sine April 23, 2012 at 8:03 am

    You beat me to it! I’ve been wanting to write about the Bryanston Organic Market for some time (as it’s practically in my backyard – yes, I am one of those suburbanites:-). But so many other blog posts to write first… By the way, I heard about a farmer’s market the other day but didn’t remember the details. Was it in Illovo perhaps? Or was it Irene (I always confuse the two). I think it might have been Irene.

    • Reply 2summers April 23, 2012 at 11:14 am

      Yes, someone else just mentioned the Irene market. Where is Irene?

      Sorry, hope I didn’t ruffle your feathers with the bland suburbs comment. I know the suburbs make sense for lots of people, jut not for me 🙂

      • Reply Sine April 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm

        Nonono, you didn’t! My feathers are not easily ruffled:-). Irene is near Pretoria but that’s pretty much all I know. And if I remember correctly it’s also only once a week, or perhaps even only once a month. Will try and find out where I heard this to get more info.

  • Reply Lu April 23, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I love that beaded rooster – what a gorgeous piece of art!
    I haven’t found a farmer’s market myself – but in Hartebeespoort there is Jasmyn (on the left as you come into town on the R511), which is a farm stall and sells local produce direct from farmer to consumer.. No middle man to leave the stock lying in the sun whilst they unpack all the veggies from the truck! However, I’ve yet to spot the actual farmer in the shop 😉

    • Reply 2summers April 23, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Thanks the for the tip, Lu! So, I seem yo have lost track of your comings and goings…Are you back in SA for good now?

      • Reply Lu April 23, 2012 at 11:20 am

        I’m still “in transit” – heading to the UK early May, only to return again to SA in September. Hoping then to settle (whatever that means!) in the Cape. I’m super excited 🙂

  • Reply eremophila April 23, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Like others, I too loved the rooster!! However, the paper craft and the ceramic bowl took my eye also. It does look a lovely venue.

    • Reply 2summers April 23, 2012 at 11:44 am

      Yep, lots and lots of beautiful handmade stuff. I could have spent lots of money there if I were rich!

  • Reply Lu April 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Here’s what I think I know about the Irene Market:
    It is held in the grounds of Jan Smut’s house – just outside Irene. To get there from Jozi – head north on the N1 to Pretoria – take the Botha Ave exit (M18) – turn right (go under the highway, name becomes Main Road) and continue until you reach the 4-way stop with Nelmapius Rd. Turn left – steep dip under railway line and turn first right – this road/track should lead up to Jan Smut’s house.
    I think the market runs every 2nd and last Saturday of the each month. I stand to be corrected on that!

  • Reply beaded animals March 12, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    The beaded rooster is unique. I like the idea of using what the crafters call “scoobie” wire or coated wire in the feathers.

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