Dargle Local Market in the KZN Midlands might be little but, quality-wise, it’s a giant. And, it truly is local. Held on the first Sunday morning of each month at the Lions River Club, the market is unique in that everything on offer is produced in the beautiful Dargle Valley. The sense of community is tangible as you stroll around the stands set up on the wide, wraparound veranda of the clubhouse. Everyone seems to know everyone else and, even if you’re an outsider, you soon feel part of it all.
It’s a highly productive agricultural area where farming methods yield good, clean and fair food, the likes of which were on sale that morning and included plump, free range chickens and the award-winning Dargle duck, fillets of which sizzled on a braai in the garden. In most cases, the farmers themselves are the stallholders and, so, those of us who are conscious about the provenance of our food, can get the facts straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Thus reassured, I bought free-range chicken eggs (free-range duck eggs were also on sale); yoghurt (arguably the best I’ve eaten), the thickest cream (that stayed fresh in my fridge long after normal shop-bought cream would have soured), ice cream (real dairy and sublime!), cottage cheese and feta (all made from the milk of happy Jersey cows).
Market-goers snapped up strawberries, home-made breads, biltong, cheese and soaps, and I bought heirloom vegetable seeds from Rebel Seeds owner, Éidín Griffin, a talented artist who paints a picture of what the seed will grow into on each packet. I look forward to harvesting my own organic yellow wax bush beans and mizuna greens in a couple of months’ time.
There were also fresh seasonal veggies, like organically grown artichokes, beetroot, carrots, spinach, spring onions and herbs. Yellowwood trees were for sale, and they were being guarded outside by a coterie of little boys and their puppies. A young school girl/budding entrepreneur had made popcorn, which she packed into handmade paper cones and sold for R3 a cone.
We breakfasted on Nikki Brighton’s scrumptious carrots with cumin on focaccia and followed that with fresh strawberry frozen yoghurt that was more than moreish! A pity it was all sold out in no time at all. And, that’s the case with almost everything! So, get there early. When you’ve done your shopping, settle down on the lawn with a cup of coffee – Irish if you choose, which is appropriate given that Dargle was named after an area in Ireland – and enjoy the rural views. Take your pooch – like everyone else, dogs are most welcome. Which is why some people call it ‘Dogle’ Market.
By Andrea Abbott