The Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG) Farmers' Market
The Toronto Botanical Garden Organic Farmers' Market is tucked away from sight, on the grounds of the Toronto Botanical Garden. To capture the attention of motorists at the intersection of Leslie and Lawrence dedicated volunteers (dressed as produce) brave the summer humidity and beckon people to visit. Although it's not likely attributable to those pea pod, carrot, and corn cob costumes, the market is usually bustling with shoppers lining up at almost every vendor while a jazz trio sets a relaxed mood.
Despite the market's name, not every merchant at the market is certified organic, although all are committed to the principles of organic farming or use organic ingredients when possible.
Here's a round-up of some of the vendors you'll find at the Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG) Organic Farmers' Market.
Pete's Fresh Organics
Brampton-based farmer Peter Seenath's table is a study in green, with its bags of fresh salad mix, kale, and chard. As his stand's name states, Seenath's crops are all certified organic, and shift with the season: expect tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and okra, all freshly harvested.
The Bee Shop
As one of the instructors of the introductory beekeeping course at the Toronto Botanical Garden, the Bee Shop's Oliver Couto is at home at the TBG Organic Farmers' market. Here, you should be able to satisfy all your bee-related needs: the table groans with honey, candles, royal jelly, soaps, skin products, bee pollen, and even venom, which some use to treat rheumatism and joint ailments.
Clay Pot Catering
Food shopping while on an empty stomach can be challenging, but Clay Pot Catering has you covered with their Indian-inspired cuisine. Plump samosas satisfy those craving a snack, while those seeking a full meal can enjoy a dinner here, which on a recent visit consisted of red lentil daal, curried green beans, and brown basmati rice. Homemade chutneys and pickles are also available.
Grand River Ecological Growers
An alliance of farmers from around their namesake's watershed, the Grand River Ecological Growers sell a wide variety of food at their stand: venison and bison, goat dairy, mushrooms, and seasonal produce, all raised or grown organically, although not certified, are on offer.
Fittingly, given its focus on healthy and organic prepared food, Hearty Catering operates out of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Alongside treats, some of which are vegan and/or gluten-free, chef Evelyne Gharibian offers salads to take home or eat at the market. Shoppers can choose from a taco salad (free-range chicken, vegan, or vegetarian), or a range of shifting seasonal options, including beet and carrot slaw, and kale and cabbage salad.
Green Gate Farms
Although not certified organic, the pork and beef sold at Green Gate Farms' stand is naturally raised, free of hormones and preventative antibiotics. In addition to the standard offerings of steaks, chops, and roasts, Green Gate Farms sells heat-and-serve items for rushed weeknight dinners, including shepherd's pie and tortiere, and a variety of filler-free sausages, such as sweet Italian, chorizo, and apple bacon.
This Stratford-based dairy boasts that its cheese is made from "seasonal milk from humanely treated animals." You're welcome to sample Montforte's cheeses, made from goat, sheep, water buffalo, and cow's milk. Bags of squeaky curds make for a tempting snack while browsing the market.
P & H Farms / Marche 59
With 200 acres, including an orchard, this certified organic farm in Port Hope provides a wide range of fruits and vegetables all summer long. Sharing the stand is Marche 59, the farm's shop, which also bakes bread and treats. Golden loaves of organic bread are available for $5, and baguettes can be purchased for $4.
Iqbal and Sanndhea Mauthoor are two urbanites who left the city to grow produce organically at their small Brampton farm. The couple sells Asian and fenugreek greens, radishes, onion scapes, green onions, and herbs, with a changing variety of vegetables available throughout the summer.
This Walsingham-based, certified organic farm sells produce staples: lettuce, onions, peas, broccoli, potatoes, and more. Christine and Martin Jurjans also sell eggs from their farm's chickens, as well as jams, and ketchup made from their own tomatoes.
The Toronto Botanical Garden Organic Farmers' Market is held outdoors Thursdays from 3pm to 7pm from May through mid October. Then, the market moves indoors for the late fall and winter when it runs on Thursdays from 2-6 pm.
Discover more of Toronto's farmers' markets via our Toronto Farmers' Markets Pinterest board.
Writing by Robert Hickey. Photos by Jesse Milns.