Meet the People of Zagreb Farmers’ Markets

Going to a farmers’ market is a way of life in Zagreb, almost a sacred ritual, especially on Saturday mornings.

There are many of them scattered all over the city and they are open seven days a week. When going for shopping at a farmers’ market, obviously your most important criteria should be the quality of the vendors’ produce. However, let's not forget that people behind the stands also matter and sometimes make a big difference. It's not only about shopping, the whole experience is about socializing, too. That's why most of us locals have our own people among the vendors, someone with whom you build a relationship, someone who may even remember your name, who chats with you and knows what food you like, gives you some extras from time to time, saves you the best pieces. Zagreb's farmers’ markets make a very interesting gallery of characters and you should definitely take your time to meet them up close and personal.

“The legendary Snježana from Dolac market, always in a good mood.” Image credit: Taste of Croatia

Usually you have your primary farmers’ market, the one you frequent because it's the closest to where you live, or work. In my case, that's Jarun, with a well-equipped and popular market. Then again, there's also Dolac, the central farmer's market in Zagreb, which holds a special place in the heart of every avid market-goer in the city. Whenever I'm in downtown Zagreb and have the time, I'll do some shopping there or at least just browse. Britanac, Utrina and Kvatrić markets are also on my list, but not so often. All in all, these are the markets where I have „my people“. Most of these connections happen organically and spontaneously. Usually it's not that hard to find a nice tomato or a zucchini or whatever when the season is in full bloom and the supply is plentiful, but to make you want to return to the same stand, there has to be something more. And when that click happens, you have found yourself your farmers’ market buddy.

“Brankica Solina and her lovely greens.” Image credit: Klice Solina FB

Allow me to mention just a few of my own market buddies, vendors whom I always greet even if I'm not buying anything. Snježana is an institution at Dolac. This tall, blonde Dalmatian lady has one of the bigger stands in the outdoor section, and there's always a queue in front of it. For a reason. Snježana sells top-quality seasonal produce from Dalmatia, from fruits and veggies to olive oil and herbs. She always finds the time to say hello and ask how you are doing. You can find Brankica from Solina family farm in the same row, further to the right. This unconventional and passionate farmer from Zagreb surrounding comes from a family with a long tradition of growing and selling vegetables. Apart from fresh and organic seasonal vegetables, Solina family is known as pioneers of growing sprouts, and Brankica will be happy to explain you all about them. Manuela comes from Moravec family farm, specialized in goat's milk dairy. Their stand is in one of the passages connecting two indoor halls on ground level. You can find her from Thursday to Sunday, always smiling, chatting and ready to give you advice or a sample of their excellent cheeses.

“Manuela from Moravec dairy farm is here with goat’s milk products and lots of smiles.” Image credit: Taste of Croatia

My advice is, never view your trip to the farmer's market as merely a transaction, but rather engage in its social aspect, too. Find your people and make them your market buddies, for a long and fruitful relationship.

“The fruit comes with a price, but finding a market buddy is priceless.” Image credit: Taste of Croatia

Header image credit: J. Duval, TZGZ 

Author: Morana Zibar/Taste of Croatia