One-Tank Trip for June 20/15
(c) By Jim Fox
There’s something about buying food fresh from the farm, especially from the person who grew it.
This trend is evident in the popularity of farmers’ markets from Kingston’s that opened in 1780 and others that grew as pioneers settled across Ontario.
The number of markets in the province diminished in the 1980s to 60 but there’s a renaissance with three times that number today.
|Paige offers new-crop potatoes from Thorne Farms at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market. (Jim Fox photo)|
“Local business and community groups in every nook and cranny of Ontario are forming community partnerships with municipal governments and farmers, creating a resurgence in farmers’ markets that would make our ancestors proud,” the industry group Farmers’ Markets Ontario says.
New markets are being established and old ones are being revitalized as people discover a more personal shopping experience.
It’s called “agri-tourism” these days and is a “new and growing niche,” with the markets being a “fabulous way to experience what the country offers in terms of locally raised and grown produce and products,” the group says.
Other historic sites across Canada include the Saint John City Market in New Brunswick with its roof resembling an inverted ship’s keel and made of wooden trusses built by ship carpenters.
The largest is the St. Lawrence Market, circa 1803, in Toronto and was named the top food market in the world by the National Geographic book Food Journeys of a Lifetime.
St. Jacobs going strong
A sad note for agri-tourists was the fire almost two years ago that levelled the main building of the St. Jacobs Farmers Market, just outside Waterloo.
|St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market is back in full operation with a new building after a devastating fire. (Barbara Fox photo)|
The fire resulted in $2-million damage and the cause of the overnight blaze was never determined.
The $5-million replacement building has just opened and is 40-per-cent larger than the original structure.
It’s called Canada’s biggest year-round farmers’ market and attracts about one-million visitors a year from across Ontario and beyond.
“Almost all of the original vendors have returned to the new building and several new businesses have been welcomed in both the new building and other locations on site,” said Sheila Shantz, market director.
It continued to run with the displaced vendors setting up in the former Harvest Barn and other temporary sites.
During the peak summer season, there are more than 400 vendors inside and out while the new building houses about 70 and there are two other buildings on the site.
|Colourful displays of fresh fruit and vegetables are the tradition at farmers’ markets. (Jim Fox photo)|
There are food and craft vendors, food courts and a “lively outdoor area” that showcases a huge mix of local producers, Old Order Mennonite farmers, a quality flea market and petting farm.
The market at 878 Weber St. N. Waterloo is open now through Sept. 1 on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and year-round on Thursdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. stjacobs.com/farmers-market
Just down the road is the Kitchener Farmers’ Market, established in 1873, and operating year-round.
With 55 vendors, including area Mennonite farmers, it’s open
|Farmers’ markets provide the opportunity to buy fresh veggies right from the producer. (Barbara Fox photo)|
It’s open year-round on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and now through Oct. 7 on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In the Toronto area, Sherway Farmers’ Market is back at Sherway Gardens in the far northeast parking lot on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Oct. 30.
The Oakville Place Farmers’ Market has moved to Centennial Square (120 Navy St.), with local veggies, fruit, baked goods and more on Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., through Oct. 31.
To check out what’s in season, see the Ontario Produce Availability chart for Oakville and Sherway at farmfreshmarkets.ca
Need to know
To start exploring, Farmers’ Markets Ontario has a website listing all of its 172 member markets with maps and information at farmersmarketsontario.com
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com
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