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San Isidro Farmers' Market

Farmer's Market in San Isidro de General - 200+ stalls of delicious fruits and vegetables.
Sheelagh Richards - December 2008

We had a good laugh hearing the news that the European Commission had decided to stop regulating the size of carrots - whoever benefited from that that pointless bit of bureaucracy?

Thankfully there's no such madness in our feria (the farmers market) in San Isidro where great fruit and vegetables come in every shape and size - it's a weekly fixture we wouldn't miss.

The market is huge; over 200 stalls with a tremendous variety of fresh produce. Open at the crack of dawn, its hard to believe some of the farmers have driven for over two hours to get here, many bringing crops from up the mountains that don't grow well at our lower and warmer elevation.






Today, cantaloupe melons had arrived from Guanacaste - pricy at nearly $3, but that's not surprising as the melon crops have been badly affected by the floods this year. We're 'tattie' lovers and it's a similar situation for the potato crops so it's a search for the best at the moment, and they're nearly $2 a kilo. OK, we were paying much more before we left the UK, but its surprising how quickly lower prices become one's norm.

Tico farmers reputedly use a lot of chemicals, including some no longer used back home. It's a tricky topic, as John learnt with his early attempts at growing veg - manifold diseases and voracious bugs quickly dented his gung-ho optimism!





Lots of expats get there early and head straight for the growing group of organic producers. I head for the only grower who doesn't cut the bulb off spring onions, which most do, a curious habit.

Midst all the standard fare, there's a growing band of specialists - home bakers, fishmongers, an orchid grower (deep breath and keep walking, they are SO hard to resist!) some wood-workers and artists. Sylvia and Melissa are among the new entrepreneurs selling jams and chutneys - their garlic paste is dynamite!





By happy coincidence, this cactus grower was showing off Costa Rica's largest flower - aristolochia grandiflora - when I went armed with the camera. We got talking about this fascinating plant - stinks of carrion to attract flies, traps them until pollination takes place and then lets the fly escape.

Contrary to popular belief, they aren't carnivorous. Having stopped to admire his bloom, I was rewarded with a handful of seeds - such a typical Tico gesture, people love to share their plants. Since we have the smaller relative, aristolochia elegans, it was nice to return the gesture with seeds from ours.





This small encounter sums up Costa Rica and its lovely people; the feria is a social venue where jokes about the price of tatties are enjoyed and we commiserate over the woes of melon farmers and shell out the $3 knowing well how much they have suffered this year.

The social bit extends into town where expats from miles around gather at favoured restaurants for lunch - time for social networking, welcoming new faces, and comparing the triumphs and dramas of life.

Oh, and the orchids aren't always irresistible - here's one (onchidium dragmara) now blooming happily in its new home - nice Eh?





Written by VIP Member Sheelagh Richards. Sheelagh is originally from Scotland and her husband John who is from Wales are two inveterate British travellers who fell in love with Costa Rica, the beauty of the Talamanca mountain range and the perfect climate of the Rio General valley where they have established a small Bed & Breakfast called Casa de Los Celtas. You can see a free online video interview with John & Sheelagh Richards here.

You can see more about John and Sheelagh's very affordable B&B outside San Isidro here and photographs and prices here.

If you have an interest in buying real estate in the San Isidro area, please see the video interview with our Recommended Realtor Victor Guerrero here.

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