Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Farmers' Market at Tai Po 大埔農墟

It's no secret that I can't resist a farmers' market.  

Wherever I travel in the world I search them out like a ferret.   It doesn't matter how difficult they are to reach and all the complications of figuring out how to get there in a foreign language.  These little journeys always become memorable adventures and as always the farmers are dedicated and passionate, generous with their time and patient with us when we don't speak the same language which more often than not, we don't.

During our annual visit to Hong Kong last week, off hubby and I went on a Sunday, fearlessly in search of the Tai Po Farmers' Market, armed with just a map and an Octopus Card. After a subway ride, a short train ride, and an interesting 10 minute walk, we arrived at the charming Tai Po Organic Farmer's Market, founded in 2005.

Compared to North America, Organic Farmers' Markets in Hong Kong are small and not well known. The FVMCS or Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department provides resources for those wishing to convert their current farms to organic ones but according to the FVMCS, there are only 184 farms engaged in organic farming practices.  Remarkably few for a region the size of Hong Kong.

Fanny-Min Becker and Steven Ma
Most of the organic produce you'll see in Hong Kong is in speciality sections of larger food shops, the biggest of which I found at ThreeSixty in the stunning Landmark Mall.

Katherine Ho and her entertaining neighbour
But for me, the best thing about a farmers' market is getting to speak directly with the producers and soaking in their passion.  Of course, finding some interesting products is a plus.

The Tai Po market had about 20 booths with products ranging from wine, breads, dry goods, cosmetics, fruits and vegetables.
After wandering around a bit, we met a charming woman, Fanny-Min Becker and spoke with her about her company, FM International Resources, and her personal journey that brought her to where she was now, all in flawless English.

That day she was showcasing Fair Trade products from Kablon Farms of the Philippines.  We bought some of her interesting, Pure Tablea organic chocolate made from fermented cocoa beans and some Pure Coconut Nectar both of which I'll be playing with in the kitchen.

We next met Katherine Ho of Cheer Land Company, importer of organic French wine Puig-Parahÿ from near the Spanish border.  She spoke English well which of course we really appreciated.
Apple Tsang

Her neighbour was both effusive and entertaining and he told us in his few limited words of English about a cousin of his who visited Banff. He also had some excellent strawberries and sweet carrots which I bought and ate on the spot, crunching away while we looked at the other booths.

Not far from Katherine, we met Apple Tsang who had some beautiful vegetables and beets which I would have bought had I had a kitchen.

The highlight of the visit for us was speaking to Katherine, Apple, and Fanny who made the trip worthwhile and memorable.  

Next time we visit Hong Kong, I think I'll bring them a few organic gifts from our part of the world... 

Tai Po Farmers' Market
Tai Wo Road
Tai Po, Hong Kong
9-5PM, Sundays

Koi soap

Little mandarin oranges


1 comment:

BitterSweet said...

Whenever I travel, I always hit the farmer's market or grocery store first, before unpacking or anything. It just gives you such an excellent view of everyday life, and excotic fresh produce to tide you over. :)