I love all seasons, but I particularly love summer time not just for the hot weather, but for the abundance of farmers markets that emerge in parks, parking lots or wherever space can be found! What makes these markets so special is that they bring about a new sense of appreciation and understanding of food and where it comes from. Suddenly people are buying fresh produce, instead of frozen dinners and stepping outside into the fresh air as part of the journey. We start eating and shopping as we have for 1000s of years prior, seasonally and locally.
This year I was on a big quest for self improvement. I wanted to start distributing my energy a little more evenly and not solely focusing on work. One of the ways I hoped to do this was by finding a place I could volunteer at that had reasonable hours (my work schedule can be all over the place at times). While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed in early May, I stumbled upon a posting from the Leslieville Farmers’ Market looking for volunteers. This seemed perfect as it was flexible scheduling and a great environment for a budding foodie such as myself.
One thing I didn’t expect to get by volunteering was a new perspective on what farmers’ markets could provide. It is not just simply all about food, but about gathering together as a community, coming together to share, meet, converse, explore, learn and appreciate. There is so much more to these markets, you just have to open up your mind to it.
So now in depth look at the market itself. First off there are tons of incredible vendors to check out and all of them are local! They have both produce and food services here meaning you can pick up your food for the week, while snacking on a peameal bacon sandwich made right at the park! They also have special rotating guests to provide more variety and expand their repertoire. I typically find myself shopping around at many different vendors to spread the love as they all provide great product (many are organic). Some call outs I will make include: Bee’s Universe (ton of unique honeys), Augie’s Gourmet Ice Pops (you will be hard to find a child without one of these in hand), Mr. Spinner’s Functional Food (love their roti), Earth & City (their raw vegan burgers are to die for), Wafel Huis (donuts on a stick are a good way to start the day) and Jacked Up Coffee (this is where I get my delicious hot chocolate each Sunday morning).
For a full listing of their vendors please visit http://leslievillemarket.com/vendors/ as there are too many for me to name.
For those of you enjoy a good bottle of wine, there are always at least 2 wine vendors present and they rotate out weekly. If you are nursing a hangover and need to “hair of the dog it”, the market offers a new outside “cafe” where you can enjoy a cold pint of beer offered by rotating local pubs like Left Field and Indie Alehouse. Perfect way to enjoy a beautiful Sunday!
So we know there is plenty to eat and drink, but what about the community?! Well the Leslieville Farmers’ Market is all about that. First off the venue itself is amazing! A large park with plenty of shade and great spots to spread out a picnic blanket on. There is also a playground and even a splash pad (seasonal) for the kids to enjoy. Every week they have different entertainment come out to play for the Sunday shoppers. Singers, soloists, bands, a wide variety of music can be found here contributing to the lively atmosphere. At the info booth, kids programs are run (part of what I help with for my volunteering) that hope to engage children with their creative sides and also promote an appreciation for the environment. Maddie is the resident face painter and kids line up, patiently awaiting their turn to transform themselves (she is incredibly talented and works simply for donations for the market). If all that wasn’t enough, each month they have some sort of special event ranging from PolliNation (everything to do with bees), Bacon Fest and Viva Las Veggies which is coming up Sept 25th. The market is truly about coming together as a community and looking at food not just as substance, but as something much greater.
The last note I will make is on the incredible volunteer team, particularly Madi who is there each and every Sunday running around making sure we are all happy and that the market is running smoothly. The volunteers have all given their personal time to help out and all provide a special touch. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work along side them and make new friends.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit this incredible market, I would highly recommend you do. Perfect for a solo trip, a date or a family outing. Lots to see and do, chat with some farmers, grab a delicious fruit pop treat, make a craft or two and listen to some great music.