On a tip from Grand Cayman head chef Thomas Tennant, we hopped in the rental car one recent Saturday morning for a drive to Savannah, a town on the island’s southern end where a morning farmers market is held weekly at “The Grounds.”
It was nearly Noon when we arrived, hours past the 7:00 a.m. peak of supply and variety, and mere minutes before closing. Luckily we weren’t there to pick up for the restaurant. Instead, our mission was to learn a little more about the emerging local farming community and what’s in season.
We were pleasantly surprised to find many vendors still present and accounted for in the open-air warehouse, behind flag-draped booths of homemade sweet cakes and pepper pickles, fresh mangoes of all shapes and sizes, bumpy sweet potatoes like over-sized chess pieces, and the most adorable eggplant you’ve ever seen. Thai eggplant.
The man behind this pile of miniature striped green pouches is Patrick M. Panton, owner of East End Garden & Gifts and one of the local growers chef Thomas has uncovered, supplying our Grand Cayman restaurant with fabulous produce. Here is Patrick’s story, a taste of his quite innovative island operation, and a peek into how we might help further stimulate this growing community.