Saturday, 23 May 2009

Farmers' Markets.











On our first visit to Canada fifteen years ago, we spent a week in Toronto and one of the things which really impressed us was the huge Farmers' Market there. We trecked down to it from our hotel, expecting to see a few stalls of farmers selling their wares. What we saw was a revelation - acres upon acres of fruit, vegetables, flowers, meat, dairy products - all of excellent quality and beautifully set out. This year we did the same thing in Ottawa. Here the market was outdoors but the stalls were set out to perfection and there was a real buzz. Last year we found exactly the same in places we called at in Texas and New Mexico.
We do have a Farmer's Market here - on the fourth Saturday in the month, but compared with those over the pond ours is a very sad affair. At the most we have a dozen stalls - two or three selling plants and herbs, one with buffalo meat, one with rare breed pork, a wine stand, two cake stalls and a cheese stall - and sometimes an organic vegetable stall.
But then, when I think about it, we are a very small market town and the surrounding rural area is peppered with keen vegetable gardeners. What we have seen in North America has been in large cities, where nobody has that kind of opportunity.
However, even our tiny one makes the fourth Saturday a special day for me. I always collect my elderly (87) friend and take her into town, where we meet another friend (and her little Jack Russell dog, Sophie) for coffee. We go round the market and buy the odd thing (this morning I bought two Gloucester Old Spot and Wild Boar pies which we had for lunch - delicious) then repair to The Golden Lion where we sit in the window, looking out over the market square ,and have endless coffee. And, of course, there is no shortage of talk! I am sure somebody reading this blog will be able to tell us of larger, more successful Farmers' Markets in some of our larger towns, but I can't help feeling we have a long way to go to catch up with those pictured in Ottawa, above. No prizes for guessing which is which from the photographs!

16 comments:

Rowan said...

Know what you mean, when I stay in New Hampshire with my friends they always take me to the local Farmer's Market at the weekends and they are absolutely wonderful. Ours still have a lot to learn but at least they do exist now which is more than they did a few years ago.

jeannette stgermain said...

Nice market - don't you wish you could take some of the items with you! (but you can't, because of the plane ride, or if you have found a solution for that I like to know it:) )

Heather said...

Sometimes small is beautiful Weaver and your Farmers' Market looks just fine - not unlike ours in fact. I live in a small market town, so a large market would have a lot of stuff unsold and maybe wasted. It is so heartening to think that Farmers' Markets are on the increase.

Leilani Lee said...

I love the idea of handing the money directly to the farmer for the hard work that he or she has devoted to producing whatever it is that is being sold. The one in our town is sort of pathetic, though. I went today for the first time and came back with romaine lettuce, turnips, and a home-made apron.

willow said...

I adore the charm and fresh produce of farmer's markets. I wish we had one nearby. I would be their favorite customer!

My word verification is "lambs"...how appropriate for your blog!

Kayla coo said...

The market in Kenilworth has got smaller and smaller.
We sometimes have a french market visit, but not of late.
I love to visit the Rag market in Birmingham.

gleaner said...

I love being around the flowers and vegetables at Farmers markets and talking to the farmers about their produce. On my last visit I learned about the link between Wales and leeks, and cooking and storage tips on rhubarb (both vegetables we see here for only a very short season).
Farmers markets are gaining momentum here in the cities as the grassroots movement away from the big supermarket chains.
I agree with Heather's comments, small is sometimes better.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I always love the herb stalls at markets. And the colourful bustling atmosphere too.

Jenn Jilks said...

It's market time here, too! Wonderful shots!

Leenie said...

Thanks for the tour of the big market! Our growing season is so short that fresh produce is not available for long. So the Farmers Markets are not large. We visited an indoor one in Oaxaca, Mexico that had a great variety of produce and and hand made items. It was better than a state fair.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Edinburgh has a decent sized farmers market, but its slightly disappointing for those of us who are vegetarians. The cheeses and preserves are good but the veg distinctly lacking

Woman in a Window said...

Oh, and to be a part of the market in Ottawa in the summer! I wish you could have seen it then. It is not just a market, it is an attitude, an experience. Glad you enjoyed it. I've always loved it.

Dave King said...

So good to hear that the wild flowers are making a come-back!

Janice Thomson said...

Where I live in BC, Canada, in a small town, we have a large Farmer's Market too. Everyone here enjoys home-grown products without the fertilizers and pesticides.

mand said...

Only just seen this - i've been struggling to keep up with people. I felt i'd nitpicked and been too negative last time i gave you poem feedback, so it's lovely that i can say there's nothing i'd change about this. 80) It is re-readable.

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