It's that time of year again. There's no better place to delve into the season's most delectable bounties than at your local farmers' market. You never know what you'll find!
It’s that time of year again. There’s no better place to delve into the season’s most delectable bounties than at your local farmers’ market. You never know what you’ll find!
Farmers’ markets are a treasure trove of fresh fruits and veggies; tasty organic meats, eggs, and cheeses; heavenly herbs and spices; sweet maple syrup, honey, jams, jellies, and preserves; handsome plants and flowers; and unique artisan products.
Meet your maker
One of the most alluring features of farmers’ markets is meeting, face to face, the people who grow the food that graces your dinner plate. You’ll encounter new friends and farmers, artisans, and entrepreneurs who are eager to share their vast knowledge with you.
By supporting local growers, you’ll also be helping to encourage burgeoning business within the community. Many new entrepreneurs start their businesses at farmers’ markets because of the low operating costs.
You’ll also be adding to the success of established companies along the way—research has shown that 60 to 70 percent of people who visit farmers’ markets will stop by other businesses that are on the way to and from the market.
Peace of mind
Most provinces have farmers’ market associations that set out rules for vendors who want to take part in local markets. In BC members of the provincial Association of Farmers’ Markets are required to bake, make, or grow their own products in order to be able to sell them.
In Saskatchewan farmers’ market members must be government inspected before they can be approved, ensuring the highest product quality and safety. Highway signs displaying the farmers’ market symbol point the way to markets that have received a thumbs-up from
Alberta has its own Approved Farmers’ Market Program, an initiative of the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. There are more than 100 Alberta approved farmers’ markets boasting the best locally made products the province has to offer. Like Saskatchewan, Alberta’s highways exhibit signage: the “Sunnygirl” logo announces that an approved farmers’ market is in close proximity.
The relaxed community feel at your local farmers’ market is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. By supporting local growers, you are making a positive contribution toward the economy of your town, and you’re also getting higher quality products for better value than you would find elsewhere.
Not only will you pick up bundles of organic products the next time you visit your nearest farmers’ market, you may just leave richer—armed with helpful tidbits of information.
From tips about perfect ripeness to information on food preparation, and from details on how the product was produced to some tried-and-true recipes, you’ll find yourself heading home knowing much more about local agriculture.
In supporting members of your community, you will be enriching the culture where you live and you’ll feel good connecting with your like-minded neighbours.
Goodness in goodies
Buying from farmers’ markets means that the products are grown and made much closer to home. You can eat with the comfort that comes from knowing the fruits and veggies are safe—it’s the next best thing to planting and harvesting them yourself.
Locally sourced food also means that it leaves less of an environmental footprint, because it hasn’t travelled far to make it to your plate. If possible, walking or bicycling to the market will further reduce wear and tear on the planet.
What to bring
For a fun day at the market, make it a family affair. Bring the kids and invite your grandparents, friends, and neighbours; there’s sure to be something for everyone.
Don’t forget to take along some reusable shopping bags and, if you’re driving, a cooler to keep your purchases refrigerated in the car. Remember to arm yourself with questions. The farmers, artisans, and entrepreneurs are extremely knowledgeable, and sometimes they’re just as interesting as the wares they’re selling!
Where to go
Some Canadian farmers’ markets are so good that they have been recognized in national publications. The W.W. Boyce Farmers’ Market in Fredericton, New Brunswick, has received acclaim in both the Globe and Mail newspaper and Harrowsmith magazine as one of the best farmers’ markets in Canada.
For a directory listing the various farmers’ markets that can be found nationwide, check out farmersmarketscanada.ca/Links.cfm.