Witness writes Dargle Story

We all love the Dargle Local Market, but it is always a pleasant surprise to find that others do too. Lizzie Purbrick, popped in for the first time this month, and was charmed. “The Dargle Market was superb, your stalls just out of this world. You would  have to travel to the beautiful town of Lucca, Italy to find goodies that match up to yours! Fantastic things you Dargle Dames do. I so miss the Dargle community spirit in England where, sadly, I spend 80% of my time now.”

Journalist Julia Denny-Dimitriou visited too and was insprired to write the following article. Published in the Witness on 10 August. We had 96 hits on the DLL blog that day! We can expect some new customers at our 2 September market, certainly.

Local Living is Lekker by Julia Denny-Dimitriou

A group of Midlands residents have combined to try and live more sustainably by starting a movement called Dargle Local Living and a produce market.

“When you say ‘conservation’, many people just think about rhinos, oribi and other endangered species. But conservation is about much more than just wildlife. Food is a conservation issue too, and in fact the future sustainability of the whole human race. We have to reduce our dependence of fossil fuels and the industrial food chain and many Dargle residents are committed to living as locally as possible,” said Nikki Brighton animatedly. She was speaking in her capacity as vice chairperson of the Dargle Conservancy, and one of the organisers of the monthly Dargle market.

Launched in late 2011, the market takes place on the first Sunday of every month in the Dargle. “We want to encourage people to try and live more sustainable lifestyles by growing and producing their own food and living locally as much as possible,” Brighton explained. The Dargle Conservancy website describes it as “not making unreasonable demands, taking only what is needed and being mindful of the entire process.” The picturesque valley is home to small producers of a wide range of food stuffs and other items including: flowers, compost, clothing, soap, bread, fruit, trout, vegetables, free-range chickens, ducks and eggs, honey, yoghurt, cheese, herbs, pork, milk, cheese, baked goods and marmalades, jams, pickles and preserves.  “The idea is that Dargle residents bring their excess produce to the market to sell to other residents and the general public,” Brighton said.

Stall holding is open to residents of the Dargle only, but no fee is required. “The idea is that people will just come and sell their goods and produce whenever they have any.  The market is part of a broader proactive response to climate change and peak oil usage aimed at building a better, carbon-free and more sustainable future for our community. It is also an important social event for the valley and helps build a sense of community,” Brighton explained.

This was an element of the market experience that attracted Ross Young. Now retired, he bakes artisan bread and makes biltong. “These are really hobbies, but they keep me busy and I enjoy coming to the market once a month.”

Sam Rose, who had muesli and baked goods on sale, is the inspiration behind the Midlands Local Exchange, another initiative to build local resilience, self-reliance and community (see box). She could be seen at the market enthusiastically recruiting people for the Exchange and explaining how it works.

Odette Handley’s Riverlea soap business keeps her extremely busy as she supplies to outlets in Johannesburg, Cape Town, London and the USA. She also supplies local outlets. Her hand-made soap is made without animal products and with as many natural fragrances as possible. “The soap that sells best locally has earth tones and natural fragrances. Highly coloured and fragranced products sell well in Durban, but not here,” she said, explaining the brightly-coloured range on display. “This is excess from a market I attended in Durban.”

Dean de Chazal, owner of Dargle Ducks enjoyed the social aspect of the market, but also had a serious motivation for attending. “This country consumes 35 million chickens a month, but only 10 000 ducks. Duck meat and fat are far healthier as it is polyunsaturated. It is fun to be here and interact with people, but I also want them to taste duck meat.” De Chazal supplies duck fat, whole ducks and duck portions to a range of accommodation venues, restaurants and food outlets.

The next Dargle market will be held on Sunday, September 2 from 9 am till 11.30 am.

MIDLANDS LOCAL EXCHANGE

THE passion behind the development of this exchange is Sam Rose. It is modelled on the international Community Exchange System (CES). This is a community-based exchange system that allows users to exchange goods and services. It is like a complementary trading network that operates without money.

The exchange allows members to post on its website the goods and/or services they have to off and also their “wants”. By providing goods or services, they earn currency called LETS, which can be exchanged for goods or services they require. Earning half LETS and half Rands is also an option. One LET is equal to one Rand.

The value of different goods and service is determined by a national rate, and all dealings on the exchange are transparent.

A range of goods and services is offered on the Midlands Local Exchange website, varying from accommodation through food and drink to reiki, full body massages and sustainability tours.  “The exchange is just starting, so the offerings are limited, but there are quite a few ‘wants’, so we look forward to trading soon”  See www.ces.org.za

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