Riverdale Farmers' Market in Cabbagetown
The defining characteristic of Riverdale Farmers' Market is that you hear it before you see it. There are children playing and laughing, dog-owners chatting, and friends catching up on the grass. Being new to Toronto, I've explored a number of markets this summer, but Riverdale Farmers Market has a community presence that makes it stand out from all the others.
In addition to a great selection of organic, local vendors, Riverdale Park is home to a fantastic splash pad and, of course, Riverdale Farm - a functioning farm within the city.
The Farmers' Market, now in its 12th season this year, is located adjacent to the farm, and the experience of shopping at a Farmer's Market next to a farm is one worth having if you care at all about the origins of our food and food culture. In fact, last year Artists Innovators and Visionaries Toronto ran an episode about the farm and the people who make it possible.
Of course, it's not just about knowing who grows your food, bakes your bread, and raises your meat. It has to be tasty, too. Here are some of the key vendors to check out at the Riverdale Farmers' Market.
Best Baa Dairy
Through a small group of sheep milk producers known as Ewenity Dairy Co-operative, Best Baa Dairy purchases their milk to be produced into yogurts, cheeses, and ice-cream. The flock at Best Baa Dairy - who seem to really like their puns - are now two generations strong, and continue to offer a great alternative to traditional milk products.
A stand-out vendor if only for their type of service, Exact Edge offers knife and tool sharpening. They charge by type and size of blade. As someone who too often lets her knives dull, I'll be back, blades in hand.
If you didn't make it to Prince Edward County for a weekend getaway this summer, this is the next best thing. Come here to for fresh, organic produce, or to stock up on jams, chutneys, and sauces to preserve the summer even after the frost has arrived. Especially notable are their tomato and tomatillo salsas, in varying levels of heat.
LPK's Culinary Groove
When I strolled by LPK's, I knew I would be back, again and again. The smell of the sweet potato doughnuts tossed in cinnamon sugar was enough to make my knees buckle. LPK's goes above and beyond using "Certified Local Sustainable" ingredients and buying raw goods from other farmers markets to make their delicious treats (which is reflected in their prices.)
Come to the Market hungry, visit Pascal Polibout's stand, leave happy. Here you can find Breton-style crepes filled with traditional fillings, such as egg and cheese, as well as seasonal ones. Gluten-free and vegan options are also available.
Ying Ying Soy Food
Ying Ying is prolific at farmers' markets in Toronto, appearing at most of the ones that I've attended. Here you'll find their deliciously seasoned artisanal tofu (yes, there's such a thing) in a variety of flavours. Using organic and local soybeans, and a 2,000 tofu-making tradition, the result is coagulated with nigari and free of artificial additives.
Additional photos:Writing by Kaitlin Wainwright. Photos by Kyle Burton.