How to find a farmers’ market that really gives back
Sure, selling local produce is awesome, but these markets do that *and* a whole lot more
By Christina Gonzales
We go to farmers’ markets with one main goal in mind: to find healthy, local food. (Not sure whether your farmers’ market is selling local? Here’s how to tell if the produce is truly from Ontario. But what if we told you that a number of farmers’ markets in your area are also giving back in bonus ways?
Whether it’s empowering youth, promoting environmental consciousness or giving farmers access to fair wages, we’re rounded up seven farmers’ markets in the GTA that give back—and then some.
Where: West Riverdale Park (375 Sumach St.), at the intersection of Winchester St. and Sumach St. When: Tuesdays, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. What you’ll find: Bacon and asparagus from Hamilton-based Murray’s Farm, heirloom tomatoes from Tamarack Farms and blackberries, blueberries and currants from Feast of Fields. How they give back: The Cabbagetown Market is a project by Seed by Seed, a non-profit organization that strives to strengthen the relationship between communities and local, sustainable food initiatives. On top of organizing the Cabbagetown Market, Seed by Seed has a youth community mobilizer program designed for youth in Toronto’s East End (Cabbagetown, Regent Park, St. James Town and Moss Park), which teaches young people about environmental and social justice issues as they relate to food so they can take action in their own communities.
Where: Withrow Park (725 Logan Ave.) When: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. What you’ll find: Maple syrup from Milton-based Danbrie Farms, Jerusalem artichokes from Fiddlehead Farm in Prince Edward County and mushrooms, duck, rabbit and other meats from Kendal Hills Game Farm. How they give back: The Withrow Park Farmers’ Market is a project of the Centre for Local Food Initiatives, an incubator of small-scale, community-focused food projects. It operates as a non-profit community venture with volunteers whose aim is to give local farmers the opportunity to secure a decent livelihood, as well as to give people in the community access to wholesome food.
Where: Sorauren Park (289 Sorauren Ave.) When: Mondays, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. What you’ll find: Organic bread from the West End Food Co-op kitchen, kale, chard and lettuce from Brampton-based Pete’s Fresh Organics and artisanal wine from Stanner’s Vineyard in Prince Edward County. How they give back: The organization behind the Sorauren Park Farmers’ Market is the West End Food Co-op, a multi-stakeholder co-op that promotes access to healthy food, fair wages and the opportunity to connect with local producers. They’ve established a vibrant community around their market, which is built upon the ideals of shared responsibility and an inclusive food system.
Where: June Rowlands Park (220 Davisville Ave.), at the intersection of Davisville Ave. and Acacia Rd. When: Tuesdays, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. What you’ll find:Fifth Town artisan cheese, pies from Peter Piper’s Pastry Shoppe and radishes from Side Road Farm. How they give back: Operated by AppleTree Markets, a non-profit organization that’s been around for the last 10 years, Davisville Farmers’ Market commits to supporting rural farmers and promoting fresh food in a fast-paced city. With school programs and continuous community events, their mandate is to create healthier people living on a healthier planet.
Where: Trinity Bellwoods Park (790 Queen St .W), at the intersection of Dundas St. W. and Shaw St. When: Tuesdays, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. What you’ll find:Matchbox Garden organic seedlings, Windswept Orchard single varietal cider and leeks from Twin Creeks Farm. How they give back: On top of adhering to a strict vendor-participation guideline that excludes any farmers who use synthetic pesticides, products containing GMOs or imported goods, Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market is committed to the environment and, unlike many markets, has an ongoing reusable bag program that promotes the elimination of plastic bags.
Where: 128 Queen St. South (Centre Plaza), Mississauga When: Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. What you’ll find: Cured meat from Albion Hills Farm, GMO-free and organic lettuce from Happy Plant Farm in Caledon and sauces, salsas and oils from Alphonsa’s Taste of Nature. How they give back: Streetsville Lions Farmers’ Market is operated by the Streetsville Lions Club of Mississauga, which raises money through various community fundraisers throughout the year. The money is then directed back to the community through youth scholarships and mentoring programs and, internationally, through grants that support humanitarian projects around the globe.
Where: 9 Station Lane, Unionville When: Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. What you’ll find: Stouffville-grown tomatoes from Barry’s Gardens, unpasteurized honey from Staite’s Honey and fresh-cut, locally grown bouquets and bunches from The Floral Farmer. How they give back: Stiver Mill Farmers’ Market is operated under the Unionville Village Conservancy, a not-for-profit that aims to conserve both the heritage and natural elements of the village. The goals were to retain the Stiver Mill as a public realm for the community, to stimulate tourism and to support the evolution of walkable communities for all to enjoy in Markham.