One of my favourite places at the moment is the vegetable market in Verulam about thirty minutes up the coast from Durban and just inland from Umdloti. Like all good markets, it’s rather a grubby place but what it lacks in cleanliness is more than made up for in freshness and friendliness – I’ve been invited ‘home’ for supper twice now by near strangers. Many of the vendors have been there for generations and although much of the produce comes from wholesale markets, it’s also an outlet for local farmers who tend smallholdings closer to the sea. A dozen knobbly lemons for R2? You’ll find them there, as you will madumbis, ginger, stringy green mangoes, avocadoes, mountains of chillies, jack fruit and…marigolds.
Apparently Durban has the largest Indian population outside India and there is no shortage of tied bunches of marigolds in this city; they’re used widely in religious ceremonies like coal walking at the Umbilo temple on Belair Road:
It’s got me thinking about these flowers though. I wonder if there’s an enormous marigold farm somewhere in these parts, or if the flowers are all grown by small independents. And if they are grown by independents I wonder if Stark Ayers or Mayford/Sakata make larger than usual deliveries of marigold seed to Durbs.