A new farmers’ market has cropped up in the King and Spadina neighbourhood. Launched just two weeks ago, the St. Andrew’s MyMarket will run on Saturday mornings next to St. Andrew’s Park at Adelaide Street West and Maud Street, atop a piece of Toronto history. In the mid-1800s, the block was home to one of Toronto’s three major markets, alongside St. Lawrence and St. Patrick’s. It’s now come full circle—good news for local residents who lack sufficient grocery stores and have been bruising their Ontario strawberries en route home from the farmers’ markets farther afield at City Hall and Liberty Village (the first strawberries of the season are ready and they’re sweet).
The market is the result of efforts by local residents—over eighty attended an information meeting in the spring at the Factory Theatre—but it didn’t come without hurdles. With the help of Councillor Adam Vaughan, they recently fought down the fifty-dollar fee per farmer (on top of the five-hundred-dollar stall fee) levied by the City’s real-estate division that operates the parking lot. And Farmers’ Markets Ontario, brought on board to run the market, had to work hard to find farmers, some of whom don’t have the time or staff to come into Toronto or would prefer to sell their larger volumes of produce directly to the Ontario Food Terminal.
Bob Chorney, executive director of Farmers’ Markets Ontario, insists that the local facilities, branded MyMarkets, pay off. By only permitting local farmers who sell what they produce, they ban the competition: cheap, foreign produce, and local vendors who buy produce from the Ontario Food Terminal and resell it at markets, sometimes as their own. The MyMarkets are an opportunity to build a stronger, local food system and stronger communities, especially important around King and Spadina, where community is in its infancy.
Dylan Reid, a local resident who helped organize the St. Andrew’s market (and Spacing‘s associate editor), notes that it’s only since former Mayor Barbara Hall rezoned the “Two Kings” (King/Spadina and King/Parliament) in 1996 that the neighbourhood switched from predominantly industrial to commercial and residential use. He hopes that the farmers’ market will be a new focal point for the community—not to mention a great place to pick up some strawberries and asparagus.
St. Andrew’s MyMarket runs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from June 6 to October 31.