A Stroll Round The Farmers’ Market

A number of people have told me that I really should pay a visit to the Farmers’ Market at the Purdy Arms down Marula Lane in Karen. Well, to give it its full name, it’s the Organic Farmers’ Market. But, having hoed too many boring rows of cabbages and cauliflowers on my mother’s shamba in the fenlands of Lincolnshire when I was a schoolboy, I have never been too fond of farming things.

Not only that – I am a bit sceptical about this organic label with its ‘good life’ image and its implications about wholesomeness and health. I reckon this scepticism can be traced back to an incident when I was I was leading a youth group climbing in the Pyrenees Mountains that separate France and Spain. We were camping high up by the side of a stream, with its clear waters gurgling down over smooth rocks.

‘This is the way water should be,’ I remember saying something like that, as we drank clear and cold mugs of it to refresh ourselves at the end of a hot and hard climb. But next morning, after we had struck camp and recommenced our climb to the snow-covered summit of Mount Aneto, we very soon came across the bloated carcass of a sheep lying in the stream from which we had been so happily drinking a few metres lower down.

Anyway, last Saturday the sun was shining at breakfast time, and our son, Andreas, said ‘How about a visit to the Farmers’ Market and a lunch at Purdy Arms?’ So that’s what we did.

To fill in a little background: The Organic Farmers Market is held every Saturday at Purdy Arms. As its website tells us, it was started in 2010 with about 10 farmers (now there are over 20), at The Talisman in Karen. I guess it outgrew (apologies for the pun) the Talisman, and it is now hosted on Saturday from 9am to 4pm at the much more spacious grounds of Purdy Arms.

Again, as the website says, the market welcomes ‘certified organic farmers offering farm fresh organic produce and various healthy food businesses’. Also, as a generous act of community service, the market provides the Kenya Children’s Home with produce every month, helping to give the children in their care nutritious, balanced meals. (By the way, the website is http://www.ofmkenya.org)

Yes, last Saturday we found many of the stalls were selling fresh farm produce: vegetables of many kinds that tempted my vegetarian wife, Lut, who filled a bag with various healthy items of green stuff. And there were many processed (home processed) foods, such as cheeses, sausages, breads, and peanut butter. I found a jar of chunky and bitter marmalade to add to my wife’s bag.

I’m not sure how healthy they are, but I couldn’t resist buying some chocolates from the stall of ‘The Chocolate Factory’, after I was offered a taste of one flavoured with rum and raisin. To a few of those I added tastes of cranberry and ginger. (Didn’t a recent research report claim that dark chocolate is good for the heart? And this is nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.

It was a very pleasant stroll round the stalls – a number of them also selling health products and crafts – and it set us up very nicely for the lunch at Purdy Arms.

It was a day for a Pimm’s – that refreshing gin-based drink with fruit chunks and ice cubes. (You can get a big jug of it for 1,500/-) And the menu at Purdy Arms is a varied and imaginative one, whether you are looking for a snack or something of more substance.

I had enjoyed my usual Sunday morning bacon and eggs, so I kept my eyes on the Purdy starters and opted for the Homemade Liver Paté with toasts. Lut, a vegetarian remember, chose the delightfully named Falafel Fatuous, with a salad of tomatoes, red onions, cucumber coloured peppers and coriander, and a light humus dressing. Andreas is no vegetarian, and he went for a filling Chicken and Mushroom Pie, with chips and a few boiled vegetables.

If I had been more hungry I would have tried the Purdy’s homemade safari sausage with onion gravy and mashed potatoes – though I might have changed my mind for the gammon slices with apple and pineapple chutney with, of course, chips.

There are three kitchens, and you can also choose from a pizza or an Indian menu. Kids have a special buffet of fish fingers, meatballs in spaghetti sauce, sausages. chips or rice, carrot sticks and humus – and, naturally, ice cream. And there is a kid’s meal free with each adult main meal – on offer from Monday to Friday from 4pm to 6pm. The Purdy Arms is very much a family place.

Published in Kenya’s Sunday Nation