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Vending a family affair


Carol Martindale

Vending a family affair

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It’s a family affair.
That’s what vending is to some who ply their fruits and vegetables every weekend in markets across Barbados.
Having tagged along in earlier years with their parents and grandparents as they headed to market early on Saturday mornings, many are now out on their own carrying on the tradition.
There are others who have regular jobs but still help out their parents with the weekend trade.
Take Henderson Edwards and his daughter, Shamel, for example.
Shamel, a 31-year-old teacher, was on the Fontabelle main road at a strategic spot between the Cheapside market and the Barven market, helping out her father last Saturday morning.
Theirs was a bountiful tray, or rather, trays, loaded with sweet potatoes, carrots, yams, plantains, cassava, cucumbers, beans, eddoes and red, juicy watermelons.
Shamel has been helping out her father from the age of 13.
These days, she helps out on Saturdays only but enjoys the early morning trade.
Henderson is on location from 4 a.m. setting up to meet the crowd of shoppers at 5 a.m.
In between taking orders from his regulars, Henderson said while this was his part-time job when he was into construction, it had become his full-time employment over the last four years.
“I am a carpenter by trade and I used to build houses but the construction business is dead so I now do this full-time,” he explained.
He sells at Warrens during the week, and at Cheapside on Fridays and Saturdays.
Henderson said he was seeing more people heading to Bridgetown to the market because of the cheaper prices offered for quality produce.
“People are looking to save a dollar so when they compare prices to the supermarket they come here to buy their vegetables because they say they get better prices,” he said.
Fred Went, 69, is just up the street and what was a hobby years ago for this vendor, is now his life.
Went retired 12 years ago as a teacher and immediately went to his other “love”.
“This is my business,”?he said. “When I retired I was head of nutrition at St Lucy Secondary School so today I am practising what I was preaching,” he said as he washed and cut the bottoms of bunches and bunches of fresh green lettuce.
He also grows Chinese cabbage, chives and okras among other vegetables on about two acres of land. By 5 a.m. he is on his spot every Friday and Saturday ready to sell what he has reaped.
Went said he heads out with about 200 heads of lettuce, laughing as he quipped: “What I don’t sell I eat”.
While washing off the lettuce he told stories of his father who would be “in the ground” for the whole day. He also reflected that as a boy in St George he would grow beans and lettuce which his mother would take to market. “She would give me the money and I would buy my books and other things for school,” he recalled as he served customers.
Jason Greene is also on that strip selling his fresh herbs, like chives, sweet basil and hot peppers.
He is not there consistently though, explaining that he was assisting his mother who is set up in the nearby Barven market.
“I am helping out my mother so I am here from about 6 a.m.,” said the 26-year-old.
For over 40 years Gwenyth King has been selling in the market. Last Saturday she was propped on one of the stalls just at the entrance of the Barven market.
She used to sell in the old market but nowadays she takes up her spot right there selling golden apples, marrows and okras from a small tray perched in front of her.
King admits that even though nowadays she sells small amounts only, she religiously gets up around 4 a.m. so she is in the market by six.
“This is what I like,” she said, smiling, as she continued to look out for sales from passing shoppers.

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