It all started while living abroad in Italy in a little town called Castellanza. There, just around the corner of my Pink house, I discovered my first farmers market.
It was a lively and busy place—the marketplace was loud from the interactions between the vendors and customers. As I walked around, farmers would hand me samples of their fruits, vegetables, and cheeses for me to try, exposing me to such a variety of flavours!
These vendors eventually became my friends, they knew me and they knew what I liked to purchase week by week. I didn’t really speak Italian but I found I didn’t need to—food was our universal language.
That’s when I realized, the power of the local food connection. For the first time in a really long time, l felt that I was eating real food.
And I was in love!
It seemed like it was never coming, but the frost has melted away and Spring is finally here! And with Spring, comes the long-awaited and anticipated Farmers Market season.
For me, this is the most wonderful time of year. The days are longer, sunnier, and everything is greener! We’ve all had our fill of fermented foods, canned tomatoes, and hearty stews from Ontario’s fall and winter harvest.
And now we are ready for fresh fruits and vegetables to grace our dinner table.
Spring really just gives us a taste of what’s to come, first with the first harvests of the season: Asparagus and Rhubarb. Perhaps, not the most popular vegetables but I’ve developed quite the appreciation for them and you may too!
Asparagus, I’ve found, is a great transition vegetable. You still roast them, similar as you would winter vegetables but can add refreshing notes with citruses like lemon juice and lemon zest.
Rhubarb is a tricky vegetable but one that poses a challenge and can add an interesting twist to some traditional recipes like pie! My favourite is pairing up rhubarb with fresh strawberries to create a sweet and tangy pie filling.
From the first week of the market, you really start seeing the abundance of produce just grow. Every week, the vendor stands fill up more and more. You start to see peas, lettuce, cherries, beets, beans, and strawberries join in the asparagus and rhubarb.
It’s a little bit bittersweet at times because you have to say goodbye to vegetables and fruits as their season passes.
But it’s also what is amazing about shopping local. You learn to appreciate the season and what comes along with it. You become more thankful and grateful for the food that graces your plate.
It really reminds you of what we had been missing during the winter months and it just makes you embrace it all the more!
There is nothing like the summer farmers markets. All the farmers and vendors come out to proudly showcase all their hard work for the season. You always know who are the real farmers and not just sellers, because they will proudly talk to you about their products and their farm!
I often spend a good amount of time at each vendor stand, talking about the week’s harvest, recipes, and topics surrounding food and the environment. To be honest, it’s my favourite thing about the market, well next to getting some really juicy and delicious tomatoes.
Farmers markets are not only a place to get my groceries for the week but they are my social space. The farmers and vendors have become my friends and I look forward to seeing them every week.
One of my favourite markets is the Waterdown Market. May 26th can’t come quick enough! I can’t wait to see friends like John from Park Road Bread, Pat from Baba Link Farms, and Michael from Eastern Woodland Tradings Co again.
I also look forward to discovering new markets this year like the Hespeler Village Market, Evergreen Brickworks Market, The Village Market, and the Sorauren Farmers Market!
I have a feeling that it’s going to be the best season yet!
In need of some ‘local’ inspiration? Try The Sassy Tomato’s Pancakes with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.
Courtesy of The Sassy Tomato
My name is Karina Flores Chienda and I was born and raised in Lima, Perú and now reside in Ontario, Canada. I have made it my mission to share my passion for better tasting food by exploring Ontario and making our communities aware of the natural resources and local products that we have. “The Sassy Tomato” stands for my Latina sassy personality and the tomato represents the importance of fresh and real ingredients.