The family who own the farm I’m staying at mainly make their money by selling produce at their little roadside shop outside their house, and by selling produce at the market at the nearest town called Princes Town.
People sell at Princes Town on various days of the week, but the main day is Sunday, so that’s when they go. There are indoor areas which can be rented by vendors, but if you don’t want to pay, you have to find a spot outside on a first come first served basis. This means that the group from One Family Farms (where I stay) leave their house at 2am every Sunday morning to make it to Princes Town for about 3am to get a good spot without paying. Last weekend, I decided to join them…
The market team consists of Jashel (the 13 year old grandson of the farm owner, Noriga. He lives with Noriga and has been learning everything about the farm since he was really young), Tony (Jashel’s dad who lives down the road from Jashel and Noriga), Marcus (another traveler who has been staying with the farm family for about 4 months now, and drives Noriga’s car) and Francis (a close friend of Noriga who has a small pick up truck and lives very nearby).
The preparation for the market happens from Saturday day time (and sometimes before), doing things like washing the yams, separating the bananas and plantains into the appropriate crates, peeling the corn, packing it all into the car and Francis’ truck etc.
It was a bit strange driving to Princes Town in the middle of the night, and it kind of felt like we were going to the airport or something, but we successfully got there before any of the other outdoor vendors, so Jashel picked the best spot for us – right outside a bar on the same road that the indoor market is on.
There were some crackheads and drunk people about, but apart from that it was pretty chilled and we took our time setting up the stall on the ground. Gradually other vendors appeared, and some of them came over to chat to Tony and the others. Some people even made purchases before the sun had come up! This is what we were selling:
There’s only one pair of scales, so really, only one or two people are required at the stall at one time (for example one to weigh and one to bag), so there’s a lot of time to wander round and do whatever you want. The first thing I did was buy a coconut to drink for 7TT (70p in English money) from just around the corner:
Other than that, I ate three doubles (doubles are a Trini street food which I’ll write a post about another time, but they’re addictive and amazing and you can eat any amount between one and about eight depending on how hungry you are), and I had a beer break with Marcus at 10am:
By the way, beer here costs 10TT (1 pound in English money) and people in Princes Town were drinking from about 6am.
The time I spent actually behind the stall was fun too, probably because it was an interesting experience for me. We stayed there until about midday or 1pm, by which time we’d moved positions because the police had moved us on, but unfortunately it wasn’t a busy day at the market so we came home with a lot of things unsold. I think in total we came away with about 2000TT, so a few hundred pounds in English money.
In general, even though it wasn’t particularly stressful or anything, I think it’s important to remember how much time they put into it for not very much profit, and it made me realise even more how important it is to support small businesses and market sellers etc. This is Francis, Jashel and me behind the stall: