For those who crave local food, the long winter of parsnip and rutabaga soup is coming to an end. The surest sign of spring is the sight of farmers pitching their market tents for the year ahead. You know what that means: you’ll be able to add fresh local asparagus and radishes to that soup any day now.
Toronto supports a handful of year-round markets including the old reliable St. Lawrence and a relative newcomer in Dufferin Grove Park. But there’s no need to travel very far for the variety and freshness; Farmers’ Markets Ontario lists a dozen more neighbourhood markets that come to life in Toronto each spring. One of the first underway this year is the Friends of Riverdale Farm Farmers’ Market, held in Riverdale Park West at the corner of Winchester and Sumach Streets. The Riverdale market launches next Tuesday, May 13 from 3–7 p.m. and runs every Tuesday through the end of October. It’s best known for its mix of organic, transitional, and wild produce as well as sheep’s milk yogourt, free range elk for carnivores, and other unexpected treats.
The East York Farmers’ Market at the East York Civic Centre rouses from its winter slumber a week later on Tuesday May 20 from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. It usually starts a little small in May but is in full swing by mid-June. Pick up jars of elderberry jam and icicle pickles while you’re there, and bring a front-end loader for all the Honeycrisp apples you can carry in September.
By early June, the markets at Nathan Phillips Square (Wednesdays), Mel Lastman Square (Thursdays), Birch Cliff (Fridays), Withrow Park (Saturdays), Liberty Village (Sundays), and elsewhere in the city will also be serving up local produce to eager residents. Arrive early on market day for the best selection, chat with the vendors for recipe and cooking tips, and remember what it’s like to eat fresh local food that hasn’t spent a week or three on trucks and ships to get to you.
Photo by Jen Chan from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.