Dufferin Grove Farmers' Market
Dufferin Grove Park houses one of the city's few year-round, organic farmers' markets. For those who are concerned about eating local and pesticide-free, Dufferin Grove Farmers' Market is a hotbed of delicious produce, meats, and prepared goods. For the rest of us, it has a slew of tasty treats.
The market, which runs like clockwork from 3-7pm every Thursday, is part of Dufferin Grove Park's larger community. The Dufferin Grove Bakers sell delicious baked goods from the park's wood oven, while other community programming, such as a cookbook swap this August, is space sporadically throughout the year.
The market is well-designed, with requirements that products to be organic and identified (unless there is good reason) and to ensure that there's no destructive competition between vendors. As a result, you'll find a lot of great things here, but little opportunity to compare apples to apples if that's what you're after.
After a few strolls around, some samples here and there, a few purchases, and lots of great discussion with the enthusiastic growers and business owners, a handful of vendors stood out:
I was first introduced to Chocosol through my local coffee shop where their intensely flavoured organic chocolate bars ($6) make an occasional appearance. Here, Michael Sacco brings coffee and chocolate bars to take home, and a delicious drinking chocolate ($3/small or $5/large), sweetened with agave, that is just as powerful as the bar version.
My partner and I swore we would return to Clement's for dinner at the market one night. Tim Clément produces handspun crepes ($7-10 depending on filling) made with organic whole wheat flour, organic free-range eggs, and whole milk, and filled with ingredients from the farmer's market. Sweet or savoury, they're gorgeous, piping hot, and filled with ever-changing seasonal toppings.
Evelyn's Crackers have become somewhat of a regular fixture at Toronto farmers' markets. Dawn Woodward and Ed Rek's crackers and cookies — named in honour of their daughter, Evelyn — are made with local, organic, and fair trade ingredients. For a wine and cheese party, pick up the Spicy Dal Spelt Sticks (made with spelt flour and lentils) or Currant in the Rye crackers ($7/each or 3 for $20). They also sell granolas, oatcakes, and the perfect shortbread cookies for afternoon tea.
Feast of Fields Farm
Laura Sabourin's offerings impress those looking for truly beautiful fruit. A Demeter Certified Vineyard and Orchard, Feast of Fields features their fruits at the farmers' market, including pears, peaches, and berries.
Forbes Wild Foods
Forbes Wild Foods was attended by an apprentice forager named Seth the afternoon that I visited the market, but you could have fooled me that he was an apprentice. Terribly knowledgable about the things that you can eat, the folks at Forbes Wild Foods have plucked and prepared all sorts of delectable mushrooms, wild fruits, pickled vegetables, and other plants. If you're looking to impress foodie friends, pick up some spruce tips, wild dried juniper berries, or milkweed pods, which Seth says are great on pizza or in risotto.
It's good to be kind. Kind Organics reminds me of an edible flower shop. Under their tent, there were rows upon rows of gorgeous salad blends, sprouts, micro-greens, herbs, and edible flowers. Their sprouts and wheatgrass are certified organic, while the rest of their products are grown without any chemicals.
Ying Ying Soy Food
Sandwiched between the delicious cheeses and meats at the market, there is an artisan tofu vendor who should not be missed. Ying Ying Soy Food has been producing Nigari tofu with organic soybeans for over ten years. Nigari tofu is a traditional style of tofu, slightly sweeter and a more pleasant texture than supermarket tofu. Ying Ying offers tofu burgers, smoked tofu, and prepared Gourmet Tofu in a selection of flavours that are ideal for sandwiches or barbecuing.
Writing by Kaitlin Wainwright / Photos by Denis McMullin