The Farmers' Market at the Brick Works
The Evergreen Brick Works Farmers' Market is one of Toronto's largest farmers' markets with anywhere from 65 to 85 vendors. Centrally located (550 Bayview Avenue), this vast outdoor covered space is easily accessible by car and offers paid parking. However, visitors are encouraged to opt for more environmentally friendly modes of transportation such as their free shuttle bus service which is wheelchair accessible and runs every 30-45 minutes from Broadview station.
Open every Saturday from 8 A.M. to 1 P.M until November 3, this farmers' market offers a wide range of products (local and organic produce, preserves, freshly cooked foods, natural skincare products, baked goods, coffee, tea, and more). While all the vendors have a lot to offer, the following ones are my favourites:
Alli's Bread uses seasonal local farm produce to make a variety of savoury and sweet breads. They also sell other fresh baked goods such as quiches, granola, cookies, and scones. For those who are sensitive to gluten, try one of their gluten-free baked goods and for those who are vegan, try one of their vegan brownies made with brown rice flour and tapioca.
Augie's Gourmet Ice Pops
These handmade gourmet popsicles are made from freshly squeezed fruit and herbs (all of which are local whenever possible). Most of their flavours feature ingredients that are not typically found in store-bought popsicles such as basil, mint, balsamic vinegar, yuzu, and coconut. If you are not sure about one of their more unique flavours like the Strawberry Basil or the Guava Passion Fruit, try a small "Mini-Pop" version of it for $1.50 (half the price of their regular sized popsicles). They are constantly experimenting and coming up with new flavours, so expect something new every week.
Best Baa Dairy
This company produces sheep milk cheeses, yogurt, and ice cream using minimal ingredients. Some of their most popular cheese varieties include Ramembert, Meadow, Brebette, Eweda, Mouton Rouge, Brigitte, Feta, and Brebis. Their ice cream and flavoured yogurts are sweetened with natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar. Be sure to ask about their weekly cheese specials.
Chef/Owner, Ezra Title, is also the co-host of the television show Healthy Gourmet. Although he and his cooks offer various breakfast and lunch items such as scrambled egg sandwiches and granola bars every week, their most popular menu item is their grilled cheese sandwich ($6). Their "original" grilled cheese sandwich is made with Montforte's Paradiso (an aged sheep milk cheese).
Evergreen Garden Market
If you are into gardening or harvesting your own produce and herbs, this is a must-visit while you are at the farmers' market. In addition to selling fruit, vegetable, and herb plants, they also sell shade plants, meadow plants, organic soil, natural fertilizers, eco-friendly tools, and bird/bat/butterfly houses. This beautiful open space is located next to the farmer's market and it is open from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M on Saturdays.
This company mainly sells artisanal baking mixes made from fresh stone-ground organic grains (spelt, kamut, oats, and Red Fife). They have baking mixes for muffins, loaves, cookies, scones, pancakes, and waffles and they also sell fresh-ground flours.
This company specializes in gourmet salad blends, baby greens, micro greens, wheatgrass, three-day old sprouts, herbs, and edible flowers. Many items are Certified Organic and sell for $5 per bag. Items that are not Certified Organic are 100% naturally grown (i.e. without the use of chemicals or animal by-products). For those into natural remedies, they also sell healing herbal tinctures ($10), chaga mushrooms (powder $5, chunks $10/100g) for better sleep and immune function, and probiotic kombucha drinks ($8) for improved digestion.
Pimentón is a catering company and retail store on Mount Pleasant that focuses on Spanish and Mediterranean inspired dishes such as "chorizo on a blanket" ($5) and paella ($8). Their menu also features other items such as pork ribs ($4) and healthy beet root brownies ($4). Of all their menu items, their bestseller is definitely their vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free red velvet cupcakes ($4). Not only are these cupcakes beautiful, they contain over 90% Certified Organic and free trade ingredients.
This Toronto-based company sells salsas and nachos that are handmade, gluten-free, and preservative-free. They offer salsa and dip tastings to help you decide on your favourite(s). Although their salsas are very fresh, if you are looking for something even fresher, try one (or more) of their made-to-order organic and gluten-free corn quesadillas ($3-$5). If you have a sweet tooth, order their vanilla or spicy chocolate quesadilla.
RISE Organic Lemonade
This is not your average lemonade stand. Author and Nutritionist, Julie Daniluk, serves up sugar-free organic lemonade (small $3, large $4). This lemonade is made using the recipe found in her book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, and it is sweetened with Stevia (an all natural, zero-calorie sweetener). While RISE only sells lemonade at the market, their downtown cafe at 107 Mutual Street (near Church and Dundas) sells fair trade organic coffee, teas, and healthy snacks.
This floral company makes customized bouquets using freshly picked and organically grown flowers from the Stratford-Waterloo area. Mixed bouquets start at $20 and from there, depending on the size and variety, the price increases by increments of $5 (i.e. $25, $30, $35,...). If you want to avoid potentially waiting in line for your bouquet to be assembled, you can pre-order your bouquet and pick it up at a later time. You must pre-pay for all pre-orders.
Thanks to companies like Stasis Preserves (476 Roncesvalles Avenue), Torontonians can enjoy local and seasonal fruits and vegetables all year round in the form of preserves, pickles, relishes, jams, and chutneys. Not only are all their products completely handmade with only local ingredients, but they are also made with much less sugar than store-bought ones. They also do not contain any added pectin or artificial ingredients. With so many products to choose from, they do offer tastings to help you decide which one(s) you like most.
These large savoury crêpes (around $10) are hand-spun right in front of you and then filled with local and organic ingredients from other vendors in the market. Their regular batter is made with quality ingredients such as organic whole-grain flours (Red Fife and buckwheat), organic free-run eggs, sea salt, pure vanilla, rennet-free cheeses, and fresh whole milk. They also offer a gluten-free and dairy-free buckwheat batter. Although there are three crêpe-making stations, the lineups are still quite long, but these crêpes are definitely worth the wait.
Sunshine Natural Foods
This juicing and smoothie-making stand uses only organic produce and fair trade ingredients from their grocery store in Toronto (942 College Street). Their fresh hand-pressed juices are custom-made, using only the vegetables and/or fruits you selected from their list that is posted by the lineup. Their smoothies, on the other hand, are a blend of pre-selected fruits over ice. Both their juices and smoothies cost $6 for a small (12 oz) and $8 for a large (16 oz). They also sell popsicles made only with organic fruit (no added water) and a touch of agave for $3 each. Whether you are getting a juice, a smoothie, or a popsicle, you may have to wait a bit since there is only one heavy-duty juicer and one blender, but it is well worth the wait.
Currently, this is the only vendor specializing in fish and other seafood at the market. They only sell conscientiously harvested Canadian seafood and they support local independent fishermen. They offer a variety of seafood from fresh halibut ($22.50/lb) to smoked rainbow trout ($28/lb) to B.C. spot prawns ($32/lb). With a limited supply each week, make sure it is one of the first vendors you visit for the best selection and do not forget to bring a cooler with you to keep your seafood purchases fresh on the way home.
This is one of the few non-food and non-drink related vendors at the farmers' market. This natural skin-care and hair-care company makes products using homegrown botanicals from Vauxhall Gardens in Kilbride, Ontario. Some of their more unique items include shampoo bars ($8), their version of Tiger Balm ($7), hazelnut and carrot eye cream ($20), comfrey cream for stiff and achy joints ($12), and natural herbal deodorant ($8).
Writing and photos by Adeline Chan. Additional photos by Natta Summerky.