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
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
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
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.