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To Market, To Market…

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“To market, to market, to buy a fat pig locally grown, Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.”

Updating a nursery rhyme that dates back to the 16th century is no easy task – but going to the market still isand there are lots to choose from in Hastings County. Farmers’ markets and farm stands have been incredibly resilient – and they deserve our support whether they are traditional, on-line, or hybrid ventures.

THE MARKETS

A very exciting market update is the re-opening of the Marmora Farmers Market this spring which was closed last summer. Katherine Grace-Wagar, one of the three organizers, says that “everyone’s very excited that it’s running this year.” They also have a new location at what is locally known as the Ball Diamond Park on Metcalf Street and are open every Saturday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Marmora Farmers’ Market, June 5, 2021

This year they will have about 18 vendors once artisans are allowed to participate. And the list is impressive because in addition to seasoned vendors, there are several new ones who sell everything from tie-dyed t-shirts, hand-made spindles, and stained glass, to creams and soaps. Grace-Wagar also says that Mary Andrews (one of the organizers along with Daryl Zajak) “makes the most amazing carrot cake jam” and that Barb Smith’s date squares are “the world’s best.” You can find plants, honey, preserves, hand-made soaps, vegetables and seedlings, as well as pretzels and bagels. An added attraction is the JC Smokin’ BBQ food truck and the fact that it sold out on June 5th, speaks volumes.

Woman standing next to a Farmers Marketin sandwich board sign

After a long hiatus in the village of Stirling, the local farmers’ market returned to the covered bridge last year during the first season with COVID, and vendors, shoppers and the community were happy with its success. There had not been a market in Stirling for the previous four or five years until local business owners of Creekside Yoga, Jessica and Nathan Rogers, saw an opportunity to connect the community with local growers and producers.” Market in the Village will be open June 25th and consecutive Fridays from 4:30 to 7 pm. This year, Rogers says that “she has about a dozen volunteers to help out and is very excited to have some new faces.”  As well a dozen returning vendors, there are several new ones, as well as pop-ups. You can find everything here from coffee, veggies, flowers, baked goods, honey, maple products and frozen beef to hard cider and locally crafted beer.

The Maynooth Farmers’ Market opened on May 29th at a new location in front of Memories Bakery & Tea Room – “right in the centre of Maynooth” which is owned by Christine Hass, who is also the ‘market manager.’ Hass says that, “Maynooth loves the market and they really support it. This marks its 13th year. Currently, she has around sixteen vendors who provide mostly food products, but this will change once COVID restrictions are lifted.

Nelson Rohrer, the proprietor of Landis Fruit Market in Bancroft, says that they are “up and running and that it’s been very busy.” Although “flowers and produce are their two main lines, they also offer preserves, meats, and home-baking” which is truly that since they bake the goods in their home kitchen. You can also order through their website and Facebook site.

Landis Fruit Market, 503 Hastings St., Bancroft

THE FARMS

  Switzer’s Farm, a small multi-generational family farm that grows fruits and vegetables, also located near Bancroft, is gearing up for another season, and they have had a busy spring planting “onions, garlic, carrots, beets, dill and corn.” Jarrett Switzer’s grandfather started the business in the 70’s and “after selling downtown for almost 45 years”, offering produce for pick-up at the farm last year due to COVID was entirely new. Their market on the farm will open late June or early July; customers can “drive up the farm driveway past the garden plot where the view is quite amazing.”

Given that some Farmers’ Markets are doing business differently, buying fresh produce from local farmers via on-line platforms is another way to elevate many from niche roles in our food supply. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an on-line platform that aids in the distribution and growth of ‘organic’ produce. Several farms in Hastings County are using this platform; for example, Earth Haven Farm, located near Thomasburg, offers a list of veggies and other products on their Facebook page and through CSA.

 Marsh Hill Farm Stirling is a family owned and operated farm that grows and sells their produce at a roadside stand at the end of the farm driveway, as well as posting products on-line. Joanne French, together with her husband, Kevin Tribble and son, Carson Tribble, begin the plants in their own greenhouse, and “as the season goes on, have a bit of everything” from organic garlic, strawberries, to “all the regular vegetables.”

This model is much the same as that of Railway Creek Farm Veggie Market owned and operated by Elly Finlayson, located near Madoc. For the past fifteen years, Finlayson has grown garlic, but last year she decided to “reboot” and has added lettuces and other vegetables. You can order items through the Facebook site if you live in the Madoc or Tweed area; orders can be picked up at the farm, or in Madoc or Tweed.

 Nansan Farms market stand is located on Highway 37 near Plainfield (they also have a stand in Belleville). Wendy and Rob Smith grow much of the produce on their three farms which have been in the family and operational for almost 35 years.

Large sign advertising nansan Farms near Plainfield

THE STANDS

Located near Corbyville, Carl’s Country Corner offers a wide variety of food goods ranging from vegetable plants, fresh flowers, produce and baked goods.

Roadside sign advertising Carl's Country Corner Farmers Market in Corbyville

Melrose Market Garden, also located north-east of Belleville is another small farm that offers weekly orders and contactless pickup. Owners, Kathy & Rich established the farm in 2015 and believe in transparent farming practices. They provide weekly updates on what produce is freshly picked on their website and social media sites.

Owners, Kailey Bosch and Rich Phillips, of Melrose Market Garden stand together in their market stand.
Melrose Market Garden | Photo by Johnny C.Y. Lam

 In spite of the shift to on-line markets, the quintessential farm stand in the hamlet of Stoco speaks volumes about traditional back yard produce – and that’s its name. Back Yard Produce, owned and operated by Becky VanEsch for the past five years, is open weekends and alternate weekdays when strawberries or corn are in abundance. VanEsch grows much of her own produce, but also works in partnership with the Amish for strawberries and corn, and she purchases asparagus from Willow Creek Farm because she believes strongly in having “everything local.”

Image of a farm stand selling local produce

                                      

And don’t forget to stop at the Amish farm stands throughout the county; there’s one located just north of Ivanhoe Cheese on Highway 62, which sells fresh fruit and preserves – just not on Sundays.

While some markets and farm stands have ‘pivoted’ due to COVID, they continue to remain an integral part of the local fabric. 

Farmers’ Markets Ontario has 180 members and a specific list of protocols for Covid-19. You can access an extensive list of local markets and farmers in Harvest Hastings; click on ‘Shop’ and the site lists dozens of products and businesses. The article, “Find out who is growing vegetables near you”, by Louise Livingstone, the co-ordinator for the site, is also an excellent source for finding markets and venues.

Because shopping local and eating well has never mattered more!

Variety of fruits and vegetables on display
Basket of raspberries

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