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Two Years: Market at The Grounds

Buying some okra from George Davis of Sparkies Amazing Farm.

The ability to sustain trade over the past two years is a testament to the commitment of vendors, patrons, the market committee, and in fact all who have embraced this uniquely Caymanian experience.

—Agriculture Department Assistant Director Brian Crichlow

Launched two years ago to provide an outlet for everything Caymanian, Market at The Grounds has done just that, according to those connected to the enterprise.

Held each Saturday morning between 7:00 and 12:00 noon at The Grounds in Lower Valley, the market celebrated its second anniversary on 8 August. That same day, officials opened Kid's Zone a new on-site play area for children.

Minister of District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs, the Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, JP noted: "The Market at The Grounds is a key part of the plans to transform these grounds into a multi-purpose facility. The venue will offer the best that we produce, plus great family entertainment and education on our heritage and culture."

She said that with the planned purpose-built market for vendors, the agro-processing facility, and an entertainment site, The Grounds would become the centrepiece of the effort to expand links between tourism and agriculture.

Commenting on the market's growth, Department of Agriculture Acting Assistant Director Brian Crichlow said: "The Market at The Grounds is fast becoming entrenched in the social fabric of the community.

"It is now a regular part of Saturday morning shopping for many locals. And it doesn't end there for we also get visitors from hotels and condos who come out to buy produce and craft items, as well as sample local foods."

Mr. Crichlow added that the market has also served as a business incubator for new companies wanting to market-test new products.

"The ability to sustain trade over the past two years is a testament to the commitment of vendors, patrons, the market committee, and in fact all who have embraced this uniquely Caymanian experience," he said.

"There is a core group of 15 to 20 vendors who continue to demonstrate their loyalty simply by coming out with their goods week after week, even when business is not as brisk as it might be," he added.

Mr. Crichlow was also keen to remind persons that market items are available for a full five hours each week. "Some patrons seem to believe there is nothing good to purchase after 9:00 a.m. But we have asked farmers to provide a steady supply of produce until midday and they have responded favourably."

And despite the challenges the vendors remain optimistic. "It has been a great experience being part of Market at The Grounds. I not only sell my products, I also meet new people from all over the world," declared vendor Annie Litchmore who sells locally-crafted kitchen and clothing accessories.

"I have seen the market get bigger and better, especially with the inclusion of special promotional activities tied to Easter and Christmas," she said.

"Market at The Grounds remains the only place in Cayman that people can come and buy fresh fruits and vegetables, locally-processed foods such as jams and jellies, and local arts and crafts," Ms. Litchmore concluded.

Andy Ebanks who sells handbags and other women's accessories made from recycled material, agreed. "The market gives us a chance to be creative; we need to please the tourists and that means we have to make interesting local products from whatever we can find," she noted.

Farmer and Hamlin Farms owner Hamlin Stephenson commented, "It has been a good two years and I have seen tremendous improvement. I am also hoping that the Kid's Zone will bring out more parents with their children."

And parent Derrick Thomas who was out with his family, readily agreed that the play area should make a difference to those with children.

"Most entertainment activities in Cayman are geared towards adults. This new kid's attraction is great since it allows me, my wife and kids to come out here without my children getting bored," he said.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Prudence Barnes