Posts Tagged ‘farmers’ markets’

The Best of Earthward: 8 ways to shop smarter at farmers markets

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

With so many Ottawa farmers markets opening this month, I thought I’d re-run this popular post from last year on how to shop them smarter.

Photo by Justin Sewell (via Flickr)  Creative Commons license 2.0

Photo by Justin Sewell (via Flickr)
Creative Commons license 2.0

Shopping at farmers markets is one of the joys of the Ottawa growing season. Just-picked produce, newly baked bread, homemade preserves, cooking demonstrations, specialty festivals and fairs: what’s not to love?

You can enjoy the experience even more and shop smarter at the same time by following a few simple steps, says Andy Terauds of Acorn Creek Garden Farm in Carp.  A regular presence at the Ottawa Farmers Market and the Carp Farmers Market, Terauds and his wife, Cindy, grow over 2,000 varieties of fruits and vegetables, as well as flowering and vegetable plants. They also sell Cindy’s preserves under the Naturally Cindy’s label.

1. Buy what you like and what looks good.

It may sound obvious, but Terauds says many customers come to the market with a specific recipe in mind and are disappointed to learn that the ingredients they want aren’t in season.  Instead, buy good-looking produce you know you’ll enjoy and then look for a recipe to go with it.  Most vendors can offer suggestions on how to prepare their produce.

2. Sample the food.

If five vendors are selling asparagus, which one do you buy from? According to Terauds, taste should be the clincher. “Try the samples vendors provide. That’s true for corn, too. If it’s not good raw, it’s not good. Better taste is why people buy local food.”

3. Don’t buy from the cheapest vendor.

Selling cheap can be a sign that the taste or quality isn’t up to snuff. What’s more, when you pay farmers a better price, you reward tehm for their hard work and motivate them to keep improving.

4. Come early.

Produce that sits out in the weather deteriorates through the day, so come early for the freshest, most varied selection. If the market opens at 8 a.m., be there at 8 a.m., Terauds counsels. But don’t come earlier because vendors will be setting up and won’t be able give you their full attention. Besides, every vendor has something that’s in short supply; having to sell it before the market opens means less for people who come during business hours.

Rainbow Heritage

Photo by V. Ward

5. Call ahead for big orders.

Need bushels of produce for canning or preserves? Instead of buying them at the market, call the farmer ahead of time to negotiate a price and arrange for delivery.

6. Bring bags and pay cash.

Depending on the weather, bring waterproof bags for breads and cheeses, or a cooler for anything that deteriorates in warm temperatures, such as soft fruit, dairy products or meat.

Since most vendors don’t take credit or debit cards, bring cash, preferably small bills and change.

7. Dress for the weather.

You’ll have a better time if you’re dressed for the weather so make sure you have the proper gear, including suitable footwear.

. Make the market an event.

Shopping at a farmers market is a social experience and one that appeals directly to the senses. Soak it all in. Make your market visit an event. Have a snack, talk to the vendors, watch a chef demonstrate a new recipe. “It’s a different experience to shopping at a supermarket chain,” Terauds says. “Take advantage of the differences and enjoy them.”

To find the market nearest you, check the Ottawa Farmers Market Guide.

How do you shop at farmers markets? What works for you?

 

Late season highlights: Cooking and gardening workshops, locavore fêtes and the Just Food Farm

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Winter may not be far away, but there’s still plenty to whet the appetite of Ottawa locavores.
Photo by Fleuret (via Flickr)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ottawa’s growing season may be drawing to a close but there are still lots of events to whet locavore appetites.

  1. Cooking, eating and growing

Savour Ottawa presents: Local Cooking Workshop with The Red Apron

Join The Red Apron’s chef/owner Jo-Ann Laverty and sous-chef Maria Henao at the Urban Element demonstration kitchen and learn how to create a simple holiday menu using only local and seasonal ingredients. Menu will include winter greens with roasted garlic; carmelized onion and apple galette with chèvre; stuffed turkey breast with barley, sweet potato and cranberry pilaf; shredded Brussels sprouts with bacon and maple; and more.

When: November 18, 6-9 p.m.

Where: The Urban Element, 474 Parkdale

Price: $125 per person; space limited to 12 seats

Register: Online or call 613-722-3332

 

Growing a Modern Day Victory Garden

A victory gardenis a vegetable, fruit and/or herb garden in a private yard and public space that’s intended to reduce pressure on the public food supply. Popular during World Wars I and II, they’re in vogue again as more people become interested in self-sufficiency and homesteading.

Put on by the Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton, this workshop on victory gardens – i.e., small-space, sustainable gardens — is intended for experienced food gardeners, and will cover permaculture (an ecological design system), pest management and pesticide regulation, and other topics.

When: Saturday, October 26, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where: St James Church, 225 Edmund St, Carleton Place

Cost: Non-Master Gardener members $35.00

For more information: http://mgottawa.mgoi.ca/

  1. Farmers’ market highlights

Many are closed for the season but not all! The Ottawa Organic Farmers’ Market operates every Saturday year-round, and the Ottawa Farmers’ Market Brewer Park location is open Sundays (8 a.m.-3 p.m.) until November 17.

And don’t forget the Christmas markets. The Carp Christmas Market (December 6-7), and the Ottawa Farmers’ Market (December 14-15 and 21-22) are great places for holiday shopping.

  1. Activities at the Just Food Farm 

Sign up for Start-Up Farm Program until October 31

People in the region who want to start their own successful farm business have until 4 p.m. on October 31 to apply to Just Food’s Start-Up Farm Program for 2014. Offering access to land, shared equipment, and training, new farmers benefit from a low-risk way to test their business ideas and develop new skills, experience, markets and networks before committing to a larger, longer term farm.

Visit Just Food for more information or contact Leela at leela@justfood.ca (613-699-6850 x15).

Pitch your beekeeping project to the Just Food Farm

Just Food wants to add a new beekeeping partnership project at the Just Food Farm site in 2014. Apply online by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

Have questions about your project idea? Contact Leela Ramachandran, Manager of Farm Programs, leela@justfood.ca or 613-699-6850 x 15

Bring your pre-schooler to Apple Blossom Mornings 

Enjoy nature walks, storytelling, puppetry and crafts with your pre-schooler (ages 3 to 6) at Just Food’s 100-acre wooded farm.

When: Winter term begins January 6, Mondays

Where: Just Food Farm, 2389 Pepin Court, Blackburn Hamlet

For more information:  www.appleblossoms.org or info@appleblossoms.org

  1. Book launch

No-Nonsense Guide to World Food

The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food by Canada’s Wayne Roberts is winning rave reviews. The book receives its Ottawa launch November 1, with Roberts on-hand to present it.

When: Friday, November 1, Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Free snacks and cash bar until 8:30 p.m.

Where: Mercury Lounge, 56 Byward Market Square

 

Harvest season: a weekend at Ottawa farmers markets

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Harvest season is at its peak in Ottawa these days. This weekend, I soaked up some of the sights, sounds and tastes at the Carp Farmers Market and the Ottawa Farmers Market at Brewer Park. Vendor stalls brimmed with late summer produce, and farmers, food retailers, artisans and customers were out in full force. Here are a few of my photos.

Acorn Creek Garden Farm produces about 600 types of fruit and vegetables, including globe artichokes, tomatillos, hot and chili peppers, sundried tomatoes, orange and purple cauliflower, nearly 50 herbs and more than 40 melon varieties.

 

Carolina Foresti, owner of Carolina’s Box of Goodness, specializes in artisan brownies, custom cakes and dulche de leche (a kind of milk jam similar to caramel but more complex). A native of Brazil, she comes from a long line of pastry chefs and bakers, and creates her treats based on family recipes and French baking techniques.

 

Heather MacMillan of Heather’s Hearth, with husband Patrick, at the Carp Farmers Market. Heather bakes sourdough breads in a wood-fired oven using organic grain from Castor River Farm or organic flour from Mountain Path, an organic and natural foods distributor south of Ottawa.

 

Multi-coloured heirloom beets from Rainbow Heritage Garden. This certified organic, off-grid farm near Cobden produces 200-plus varieties of fruits, vegetables, nuts and drying beans, with a focus on heirloom types. It also offers a CSA program.

 

Artist and farmer Rosemary Kralik raises free-range Tibetan yak, Highland beef, sheep and goats at Tiraislin Fold, her 722-acre farm in the Lanark Highlands. Her animals are raised without growth hormones or antibiotics, on high-quality, pesticide-free local forage.

 

A glimpse of guests eating family-style at the Savour Ottawa Harvest Table, held at Brewer Park on August 18. At the event, some of the Ottawa region’s finest chefs prepared unique dishes with seasonal local ingredients from local farmers. This photo was taken through an arbour at the amazing Brewer Park Community Garden.

 

Do you go to farmers markets? What do you enjoy most and least about them?

 

Celebrating Ottawa’s summer harvest: farmers’ markets, food festivals, gourmet tours and picnic pop-up’s

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Photo by Lorna Rande (Flickr)

Besides hot weather and non-stop music festivals, summer in Ottawa means an explosion of local produce and food celebrations across the city. Visit farmers’ markets for just-picked fruit and veggies. Dine at open-air picnics where Ottawa’s chefs prepare dishes using fresh local ingredients. Tour regional farms and food artisans. Learn to forage for wild edibles.

Not only will you enjoy the best food Ottawa has to offer, you’ll help support the local food economy and learn more about how the region feeds itself. Here’s a taste of what’s coming up over the next six weeks.

Harvest events

Partnering with local farmers, some of the Ottawa region’s finest chefs prepare unique dishes from seasonal local ingredients for family-style dining. Participating restaurants include Beckta Dining and WineCourtyard RestaurantFairmont Château Laurier and Thyme and Again Creative Catering, among others.

Tickets start at $75/person and are available at Event Brite and the Ottawa Farmers Market. VIP tickets ($90) cover cocktails and appetizers, and a tour of the Ottawa Farmers’ Market by C’est Bon Cooking.

  • Harvest Noir Secret Picnic, September 7, 5 p.m.

Described by media as a game-changer when it burst on the Ottawa scene a few years ago, the Harvest Noir Secret Picnic is a pop-up foodie and social happening whose location is announced at the last minute. In the past, as many as 1,500 people have attended to celebrate local food and farms, strut their stuff in black vintage clothing, dance, and enjoy the spectacle of flash mobs and a pop-up parade.  The event is modeled on similar picnics in Europe, New York City and Montréal.

Tickets range from about $37 to $57 and can be ordered online. 

Food markets 

  • Farmers’ markets

In full swing right now, many will remain open until October/November. Others, such as the Byward Market and the Savour Ottawa Parkdale Field House, are open year-round. Check here for a full list of urban and village markets in the Ottawa region. For tips on how to shop smarter at the farmers’ market, read my May post.

  • Good Food Markets, summer

These community non-profits sell good quality, affordably priced fruits, vegetables and dried goods in neighbourhoods that don’t have farmers’ markets or food stores nearby.  For information about dates and locations, go to www.facebook.com/OttawaGoodFoodMarkets or contact Kaitrin Doll at kaitrin.doll@ofcrc.org

Food festivals 

The herbfest is geared to gardeners, foodies, environmentalists, families, artists and entrepreneurs who are interested in healthy living alternatives. Highlights will include live music, local food producers and a chef cook-off, hosted by Debbie Trenholm of The Savvy Company. Buy tickets in advance ($4 per person/$12 per family) or at the gate.

  • Garlic festivals, August 10-11, Carp and Perth

Sample different types of garlic from a variety of producers, see cooking demonstrations and check out other food vendors and artisans at the Carp Garlic Festival or the Perth Lions Garlic Festival.

Tours and walks 

  • Wild garden plant walk, August 7, 17, 21

Learn how to identify, use, harvest, process and store safe, common wild plants. Walks are led by Amber Westfall, founder of The Wild Garden and a start-up farmer with Just Food. Tickets cost $20 for a single walk and $15 for multiple walks. Sign up online or contact Amber.

The day’s agenda includes trips to three organic farms: Arc Acres Farm (vegetables, beef and pork), Grazing Days Farm (beef) and vegetable farm Roots and Shoots (to be confirmed). Go to the COG website for more info or send an email to register.  Instead of admission fees, COG encourages donations to help support its educational programs.

  • Just Food’s 7th Annual Urban Agriculture Bike Tour, August 25

This relaxed-pace 12 km bike ride will take you to five of the city’s more than 30 community gardens where coordinators will share their garden experiences and answer questions. For more info or to sign up, send an email (cgnstudent@justfood.ca) or call Agathe Moreau at 613-699-6850 (x12). Tickets are $5 each. 

Get a taste of Ottawa’s varied culinary scene by visiting farmers’ markets, and chefs and food artisans in neighbourhoods such as Westboro, the Glebe, Hintonburg, Preston Street and rue Eddy. Tours start at $40 plus taxes.

What’s your favourite way to celebrate Ottawa’s summer harvest?