Where to find Farmer’s Markets in Toronto (and the rest of Ontario)…

We get asked the question above a fair bit – the answer is both simple and complex.

Where to find Farmers Markets in Toronto (and the rest of Ontario)...

For the simple answer, you should arm yourself with the website address of the Toronto Farmers Market Network (TFMN.CA).  Pay special attention to the menu on the right – they allow you to view the markets in different groupings such as a straight up list, a map format and even listed by their links.  It’s a great resource to find local farmers markets.

The more complex answer relates to the amount of resellers vs. the amount of people selling local food (and if the person selling is indeed the person who harvested it).  We discussed the issue of resellers a month or so back here.

Where to find Farmers Markets in Toronto (and the rest of Ontario)...

If you are looking for local food for sale by those who either were the individuals who made or harvested or those who are close to source, it can be more difficult to find.  Trial and error and talking to those around you tend to be a good starting point to find what you are looking for – regardless of what that is.

In our quest to purchase as close to the source of origin as possible (geographically and economically), we have found the Brick Works Farmers Market (Saturdays) and Wychwood Barns Saturday Market to both be local and close to source.  This comes with a price and their items can be a bit more expensive than some of the alternatives – a careful eye will reveal many deals for those in the hunt.

Another handy reference (which goes well beyond the blanket of Toronto) is Greenbeltfresh.ca and it’s comprehensive list of farmer’s markets which feature products from the Ontario Greenbelt (of which we sit in the middle!).  You can see their list here – be sure to experiment a little – you can filter by day of week, location and more.  There’s also some great reading on the site.

All of the photos in this post (including this amazing homemade chive and cheese biscuit) were from the Wychwood Farmers Market last weekend.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the links and the discussion about how to find local foods. The reselling issue has bothered me a great deal, so your thoughts (and earlier post) on the topic were very timely and interesting. When my husband and I go to the local farmers’ markets we want to buy local food from the growers, but the resellers can often outnumber the local farmers. Feels like going to the grocery-store. At our nearest market, I have found a couple of farmers who sell their own produce and pastured meats – they have become our favorites and if they are not at the market, I wait til the next week to buy.

    I am trying to change our food habits to incorporate as much local, sustainable food as possible, but I worry a bit about what to do when the local markets close in early October. I am doing my best to avoid the processed “food products” in the grocery stores yet I don’t like the idea of organics imported from 100s (1000s?) of kms away. I will be really interested to read more about how you deal with this dilemma.

    Thanks!

    • Anu,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share and to post a comment! I found your post very heartfelt and share your struggles – I think the Greenbelt link is a fairly reliable to local – if you missed our earlier post on mark Trealout and Kawartha Ecological Growers, you may also find some good leads there.

      As far as the winter, we will be far from where we want to be – it will be a combination of eating what we can that is local (a lot of cellared and hot house items), selected items from afar and a bunch of canned items. We’re going to jar a lot more local food than we did last year and be choosy in what we eat from elsewhere. The debate between local vs. organic will be an interesting one through the winter.

      We did 9 bushels of tomatoes into sauce last year (split between my parents, Dana and myself). They really are not complex to do, are very affordable (about $1 a litre once you have paid for the jars, although we use a fair bit of equipment that makes things easier that was long ago paid for, such as a electric tomato press). We also harvest moose and deer (although we were unsuccessful at both last year).

      We have started a list of the vendors we really like and will try to profile them (and their markets) as the summer progresses – however I am afraid that a comprehensive list is a much bigger project than shopping for our groceries will do.

      Would love to know who you are using for local pastured meats – we purchased two great (frozen) beef shanks last weekend at Wychwood and are looking to try to find a few in prince Edward County on our next visit.

      Thanks again for commenting – love sharing back and forth here!

      Joel

  2. Greetings!
    I hope that you will hold a canning/”jarring” workshop (I think that you mentioned the possibility? Though I wonder how you will find the time to do so…). I am planning to preserve tomatoes when the wonderful heritage varieties start appearing at our local farmers’ market. Last summer they were great.

    You asked where we go marketing. I go to two small local markets; I am a faithful buyer at Withrow Park (Saturday mornings, 9-1) and occasionally visit the one at Riverdale Farm.

    Withrow Park market is small but several of my favorite farmer-vendors are there regularly. One – Weber’s – sells the pastured meats I mentioned that we like. They also make rather good sausages (including summer sausage) that my husband enjoys, but I really like the whole chickens. I think they are Mennonites who farm in the Bruce Peninsula; very personable folk.

    Our other favorite is Welsh’s for produce. He is another really pleasant farmer whose asparagus was the best I have ever tasted. We ate asparagus every day for a week and I made sure to blanch and freeze several bunches. Good strawberries, excellent spinach and kale, as well as various lettuces, and more to come. I believe he said that his wife sells their produce at the Brick Works market on Saturdays.

    A question for you: can you recommend any books on these assorted local food topics? (I may have missed this somewhere in your blog.) I have read all of Michael Pollan’s books and one by Wendall Berry. I just started reading The 100-Mile Diet by the two Vancouver writers, which is quite enjoyable. Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Anu

    • Anu,

      we explored Withrow on Saturday. We came away with Empanada`s and I believe we had a quick exchange with the kind produce gentleman you mentioned. It is a small market but you are so right that it has some real gems within it. We did not buy anything as it was early in the morning and we were going to be on the road for another 6 hours and knew the heat and our truck would have a horrific effect on anything fresh though we will return. We popped by Brick Works on our way home – again some great selections and will feature more of them as the season moves on.

      We are definitely looking at doing a workshop though you are correct that time becomes an obstacle. We hope to have some news in coming weeks and will share as soon as possible. We also have some news and resources on tomatoes coming soon that I think will be of interest as that season is soon approaching. I have a very soft spot in my heart for tomatoes – we jarred 9 bushels of sauce with my parents last fall and expect to do the same amount this year in addition to some other tomato goodness.

      Reading books are a rare extravagance these days – I am currently picking my way through the 100-mile diet. Dana and I have been talking about a bit of a re-organization of the site and featuring resources such as this more prominently. Here`s a few things to get you started in the meanwhile:

      1) We spend a lot of time speaking to local farmers when they are at their stands and not busy. If they understand how passionate you are about farming, food and local, they will give you time. There`s a whole post in the making on this topic and I can`t emphasize enough how much we`ve learned from speaking with them.
      2) There`s a fairly recent book out of Toronto called Carnivore Chic (here) that is about eating local, ethically and `meatfully`that hasn`t had a tonne of press but has been a good read to start.
      3) Blogs are very, very good resources. As an example, Jessie Sosnicki (of Sosnicki farms who offer more than 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes at the Brick Works) blogged the entire growing season last year here. We`ll also be featuring her soon – however there`s a tonne of great info there.
      4) Twitter has been really good for us to find people writing about these things – we posted our rationale and how-to of using it here
      5) We recently ran a spot on free previews of books through Google which includes In Defense of Food (pretty much the whole thing for free) – here.
      6) Cookbooks are really strong sources these days too. Most are going far beyond recipes and telling and sharing stories which can help a lot. We`ll feature some more soon but the Joy of Cooking has an unbelievable preserving section, and a lot of others are appearing out there to help people learn a tonne – much more on that to come.

      Hope that gives you a start! So much to learn, so little time!

      Joel

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