There is nothing wrong with trying something for the first time; we were all beginners at some point. The shame is when you close yourself off and stop living life expecting new experiences.
I have mentioned how important supporting your local Farmers Market is but it didn’t really occur to me that I should show you what one looks like. It is possible that some of you may not go out of fear of the unknown. Maybe you need a gentle step forward to start acclimating yourself to the whole thing.
I didn’t see my first Farmers Market until I was 23. Even then it felt more like a store than an actual market. It was the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. The place is an indoor market, open all week, that has pretty much the same permanent counters each time you visit. It doesn’t really feel like a Niagara Farmers Market in any way but it was a good way to get my feet warm.
After we switched locations in BC and moved further inland, we started purchasing our vegetables at a produce market just down the street. The prices and quality were even better than the grocery stores and it was a step closer to an actual farm than the Lonsdale Quay. We lived this way for a few years until we decided to relocate to Niagara and purchase our home here.
Once in Niagara, we were left wondering what to do. We knew this region offered a bounty of produce but we weren’t sure where to start. That’s when a true Farmers Market lifestyle entered our lives.
We have two main Farmers Markets we shop at now – Port Colborne on Friday mornings and Welland on Saturday mornings. Which one we are at really depends on when we are available. There are so many markets around the Niagara Region so please check with your city or visit this website to find the most convenient one for you. Some farms even have produce stands right on their property for you to purchase directly. If you love local produce but don’t have time to shop, maybe purchasing into a CSA would be a great fit.
At a Farmers Market you can buy vegetables, fruits, berries, baked goods, meat, eggs, cheese, juice, honey, fresh cut flowers, plants for your garden and even some household items. There is usually a vendor selling hot food right there as well. With so many options and all made or grown in Ontario, your local Farmers Market really is a fantastic thing to support.
There is a pattern that exists at any Farmers Market I’ve been to. Kids are involved in the buying process, happy to be included in picking out the week’s vegetables (increasing their likelihood of eating those vegetables). Older men sit at a table for hours watching people pass by, using this time to catch each other up on their lives. Ladies greeting each other over a basket of flowers or discussing what yarn was used for knitting a certain pattern. Take a look and you’ll find that a certain kind of peaceful, happy life exists at the Farmers Market.
After looking at these pictures and listening to what I have to say, you might still be wondering why you should take the time to shop at your local Farmers Market. Here are some reasons to consider:
- Prices are generally lower
- Supporting your local farmers helps the economy and the future of our region
- Fresh produce is always better than imported
- You can speak directly with the farmer regarding their growing techniques and ways to prepare the food
- Reduce food packaging
- Low chance of genetically modified food
It’s a great feeling to walk around the morning market and take in all the fresh produce. The colours beckoning you to each table and the farmers’ smiles pulling you into conversation. It’s a slow-paced and easy approach to shopping that harkens back to the way exchanging goods has been done for centuries. Be bold and go without a list. Purchase what looks fresh and tasty, then try to organize it into your week’s menu. Not sure what the heck that squiggly vegetable is that you are looking at? Ask the farmer and I’m sure they’d be glad to help you. They may even have recipes or cooking suggestions to give you. Food is their passion after all!
Farmers Markets are not scary or difficult to learn. Just go and take it in once to see for yourself.
- Go early for the best selection
- Bring cash
- Get the family involved – it will interest the kids in eating what they pick out
- Bring your own reusable bags
- Some places have free parking but have change for parking meters in case
- Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated
- Most farmers are at the same markets every week – you might be able to set up an order ahead of time with them
- Buy in bulk to split with friends to reduce cost
To learn about where you local Farmers Market is and their hours, please visit this link.