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!