Prolific cookbook author, culinary activist and regional foods champion Anita Stewart digs into
Canada’s bumper crop of farmers’ market
NO MATTER WHERE I TRAVEL, I often visit the local farmers’ market before stepping
inside any restaurants. It’s how I put my finger onto the food pulse of a particular
region. This collection is limited to 10, but dozens could have been included. So
hit the road with a healthy appetite and enjoy our magnificent northern bounty.
Pier Street Market, Campbell River, B.C.
Buy fresh Pacific albacore tuna and whole wheat crêpes stuffed with cream cheese and
dolloped with stewed rhubarb and whipped cream. Then order a travel mug of Vancouver
Island-roasted, fair-trade coffee and wander next door to the Marine Heritage Centre,
where BCP 45, the ship that once appeared on our $5 bill, is being rebuilt by a cadre of
local shipwrights. The market is open Sundays, from May to September.
Trout Lake Farmers Market, Vancouver
Trout Lake is a raucous summertime scene that hosts an annual cookbook swap.
Overload yourself with foodie gifts such as Poplar Grove Arbour’s organic, raw hazelnuts
to roast for salads and baking, jars of Arila Apiary chestnut honey and baskets of rare, sweet Lapin cherries from Hoodoo Ranch
in Spences Bridge, B.C. Open Saturdays, from May to October.
City Market Downtown, Edmonton Now in
words of local cooking school owner Gail Hall, this market is “absolutely phenomenal”
After visiting the vendors that line a shut-down street, she brings students back
to her studio to prepare bison Wellington using Medicine Man bison, sided with
roasted Edgar Farms asparagus and a good grating of aged Sylvan Star gouda.
Open Saturdays, from May to October.
Saskatoon Farmers’ Market
Located beside the South Saskatchewan River, it’s best in summer when vendors
spill out into market square. Take home some fresh northern pike or pickerel from Fonos Fish, an Angus steak
from Benlock Farms and a basket of sour cherries — the first I’ve seen west of
Ontario — from Prairie Sun Orchard. Open Saturdays, year round, plus Wednesdays and Sundays in summer.
Le Marché St. Norbert, Man.
Check out Barb Harder’s dandelion jelly, but don’t stop there. Sample her roll kuchen (fried
dough), raisin fritters and, better still, her perogies. At Wenkai Liu’s stall, purchase
Asian vegetables ranging from Shanghai bok choy and mao gua to long beans and suey choy, which showcase the possibilities
of Canadian farming. Open Saturdays, June to October, plus Wednesday afternoons in July and August.
Guelph Farmers’ Market, Ont.
Brilliantly diverse and full of university-town energy, stalls are packed tight in the old market
building. Look for Eramosa elk for a summer barbecue, local apiarist Doug Eiche’s appleblossom
honey, Niagara peaches direct from the growers and perfect yogurt from River’s Edge Goat Dairy. Open Saturdays, year
round, but only until noon.
(519) 822-1260 ext. 2244;
Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec
This market in the capital city mirrors life in rural Quebec. You can find gourganes, the
broad beans used in the Charlevoix region’s distinct soup, and sample the best
local cheeses along with the area’s fruit and grape wines. Also look for dried Quebec cranberries and duck terrine. Open
daily, May to Christmas, and Thursdays through Sundays the rest of the year.
W. W. Boyce Market Farmers’ Market,
A must-experience market for both its atmosphere and its food. Just try to resist Oven Head smoked Fundy
salmon and salmon jerky, Patel’s samosas (made with New Brunswick potatoes) and
cheeses from Armadale Farms in the heart of the province’s dairy region. Open Saturdays, year round.
Halifax Farmers’ Market
Founded in 1750, it’s the oldest continuously running farmers’
market in North America. It’s also one of my all-time favourites, thanks to its
exceptional vendors. That Dutchman’s Farm sells a renowned blue cheese called
Dragon’s Breath, which is perfect on certified organic French bread from
Boulangerie La Vendéenne, and pick up an Acadian meat pie from Heppy’s. Open
Saturday mornings, year round.
Charlottetown Farmers Market
In Prince Edward Island, potatoes are a food group. Head to the Springwillow Farms booth for
a sack of Island Sunset spuds, a delicious, buttery-fleshed potato with a skin that keeps
its pinkish hue when cooked. Another must: Kim Dormaar’s world-famous
smoked salmon, or his smoked eel. Also: delicious blueberries in season. Open
Saturdays, year round, plus Wednesdays in July and August.