Lilongwe Farmers Market
One of our favorite things to do in Lilongwe (confession--we've only done it once, but once was enough to convince us we will be doing it every month) is go to the Lilongwe Farmers Market. This is an expat-friendly farmers and craft market held at Woodlands Lilongwe Hotel on the LAST SATURDAY of each month starting at 7:00am and ending at 1:00pm.
WHY WE LIKE IT
- Great Place to Network: You can meet a lot of interesting expats doing (possibly) relevant work to what you are doing and exchange contact info! I made a great contact with UN Women, and I found out all about a farming co-op where we can go and pick our own fruits and vegetables!
- Fresh Produce You Can Trust: Sometimes it can be dangerous to trust produce you buy at the market for a number of reasons (use of pesticide, unsanitary handling and transport, etc), but here you can learn a lot more about the farms themselves, how they grow their produce, and know that it is safe to eat.
- Novelty Items Available: After a month of living off chicken and rice, chicken and rice, chicken and chips, chicken and rice, chicken and chips, words cannot describe how good it felt to go to a market where we could buy things like salsa, tortillas, homemade lasagna and ravioli (made by a real Italian woman), fresh bread, baked goods, etc.
- Shop without the Hassle: One of the hardest things about shopping as a white person in local markets is that the vendors can get really pushy with you. They follow you around, they talk loudly and draw a crowd, often blocking your view of what you're actually trying to shop for. In Jordan's case, being ex-military, he gets extremely uncomfortable when he feels like he is being boxed in while out in public and that can very often happen. All the Malawians at the farmers market treat the customers very respectfully. No one pushes, no one follows, and no crowding! For that alone, it can be worth it to pay a little extra, just for the peace and quiet!
Bring a shopping bag (or two) because you will definitely be leaving with fresh produce, homemade breads, crafts, and more! On our first trip we bought a delicious loaf of homemade pull-apart bread, a carton of fresh strawberries, homemade salsa, a small painting, and a few headbands (here I am shopping for headbands--above) and you can see the strawberries we picked (below).
The farmers market is in a great location--totally covered by trees, so it's shady and cool. When we went they had brought in a large inflatable bouncer for kids and there is already a playground area complete with trampoline in the back of the market. They have a full breakfast bar with tea, coffee, juice, and I think even a few stronger things if you need it. Live music played the whole time, courtesy of a local band, and when they took a break a troupe of young boys performed acrobatic moves.
Meet some of our new friends!!
Meet Zillie, of Zillie's Chilis!! Maker of homemade, artisanal hot sauces, her recipes vary according to season, so some of the flavors I wanted to try were not available! I'll have to wait until the ingredients are in season!
Grace of God Orphanage: Homemade Salsa and Spaghetti Sauce
This is our new friend, Luke Ulrich. He and his wife, Jamie, have started a new business making and selling delicious homemade spaghetti sauces and salsas, with all proceeds going to fund the orphanage they run called Grace of God Orphanage. July was the first month they attempted to sell their sauces. They started small with only about 40 jars and they completely sold out before 11:00am....and July is the slowest month of the year! By the time we left, Luke already had a lot of orders made for more sauces! We are so excited for them to see where this new venture leads. We will watch while we crack open a bottle of our new salsa!
George Malimelo, Local Artist
Finally, meet our new friend George Malimelo. He is a local artist and he does really fun animal prints using pen and watercolors. We bought this really fun elephant print from him and Jordan had him pose for this picture! He is happy to take requests as well or special orders. While we were there an American family requested an elephant scene with two adults and three baby elephants, so it would be like a family portrait! Cute idea!