Top

True Farm to Table: Waterloo Region Farmers’ Markets

True Farm to Table: Waterloo Region Farmers’ MarketsTrue Farm to Table: Waterloo Region Farmers’ Markets
by Andrew Coppolino| July 2021

There are roughly 180 farmers’ markets in Ontario, according to Farmers’ Markets Ontario (FMO), a provincial organization that promotes member markets, verifies local farms through the “MyPick” designation and generally extols the values, virtues – and deliciousness – of shopping and supporting local farmers.

A big recent change to farmers’ markets is the availability of craft beers. Check with the specific market for their selections. Some markets have switched to debit, and others have pre-ordering from their online store.

You may find “pop-up” farmers’ markets in offered by various neighbourhood associations, such as the Stanley Park Community Association’s Outdoor Market running Thursdays in July and August. There is also the Country Hills Community Centre’s Fresh Produce Market to look for.

The markets are clear in their pandemic safety protocols regarding distancing, directional arrows and masks: please check with specific markets for their rules and requirements and how they are implemented.

Here is an overview of the farmers’ markets in Waterloo Region, along with a bit of history and some pertinent details. (Please note that not all farmers’ markets are under the FMO umbrella.)

Cambridge Farmers’ Market

A long-established market – 1830, in fact – the Cambridge Farmers’ Market on Dickson Street has a vendor who has been serving customers there for 66 years. The Saturday market features 15 inside vendors and up to 25 outside vendors from within a 100-kilometre radius (which helps allow for Niagara’s tender-fruit crop). They’ve recently added a rotation of three area brewers selling their wares.

Elmira Farmers’ Market 

Founded in 2002, this Saturday market will run until October. In “normal times, the roughly 20 vendors you will find on Maple Street come from within a 16-kilometre radius of Elmira: that’s everything from home baking and herbal teas to pork, turkey, beef and a host of produce.

distant view of the outdoof farmers' market in Elmira showing vendors and their local produce as well as shopping with bags of food that they have purchased

Elmira Farmers’ Market

Kitchener Market

With upwards of 80 vendors plus the “food kiosks” in the upstairs Food Hall, including the new addition of area craft brewers, the Kitchener Market, founded in 1869, is one of the country’s oldest. But even 30 years earlier, Mennonite farmers had already been creating the original “pop-up market” by gathering to sell surplus crops in the village of Berlin. Today on King Street East between Cedar and Eby streets, the Kitchener Market is an iconic entrance to Kitchener that carries with it an important part of the area’s history. Open Saturdays (under current pandemic circumstances). There is also the Kitchener Market Online Store for shopping online.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by TWB Co-operative Brewing (@twbcoop)

St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market

During the summer months, the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, located in the St. Jacobs Market District, is open three days with hundreds of vendors and special events. It’s a bustling hub of activity that draws tourists – in pre-pandemic times – from across Canada, the United States and Europe in a number hovering around the 1 million mark. Self-billed as the Canada’s largest year-round farmers’ market and established in 1975, the market was re-built and re-envisioned after a damaging fire in 2013 with a re-opening in 2015. The market is renowned for a host of fresh local fruits and vegetables, meats, meat produces and a range of cheeses as well as maple syrup from just down the road, honey, home-style and Mennonite-style baking and preserves, not to mention a smorgasbord of freshly-prepared foods and snacks from cultures around the world.

Many people milling about outside of the market market buildinge on a summer's day at the St. Jacobs Farmers' Market

Uptown Waterloo Night Market 

Weather permitting, on Thursday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. visit the Communitech Data Hub car park (Dupont and Albert streets) for a variety of vendors. The Night Market will run until September 30.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Uptown Waterloo (@uptownwaterloo)

Wellesley Farmers’ Market 

Usually with between eight and a dozen vendors, this is the ninth season for the Wellesley market which takes place each Saturday from 9am – noon at the Arena Pavilion until early October. You’ll find local and in-season vegetables, sold by the growers themselves. Baking, crafts, prepared food and more. The market is conveniently located beside an accessible playground – so you can let the kids play while you shop and visit with your neighbours.


Wilmot Farmers’ Market 

Running for about five years now and taking place, in the popular vernacular, at “the Baden Pond” (Charles Street at Foundry), the Wilmot Farmers’ Market is a Wednesday evening outdoor affair, beginning at 5 p.m. and winding up at about 8 p.m. Roughly 20 local vendors cover some arts and crafts and most of major protein and produce categories. The Optimist
Club of Petersburg are there weekly cooking up burgers and fries as part of their fundraising initiatives.

North Dumfries

North Dumfries and the village of Ayr do not have a formal market, but they do have a number roadside stands and a host of on-farm market stores like Faul Farms, Oakridge Acres Country Meat Store, and Barrie’s Asparagus Farm and Country Market.

Hespeler Village Market 

Founded in 2016 and set in Forbes Park, the Hespeler Village Market is closed for 2021 season; however, in a time of pandemic uncertainty all-around, the Market could open in September for a four to five week Fall Market.

*****

Andrew Coppolino is a writer-broadcaster, and is a food columnist with CBC Radio in Waterloo Region. Following a stint as a cook at a restaurant in Kitchener, Andrew chose to work with food from the other side of the kitchen pass. As a food writer, he is dedicated to promoting and nurturing culinary businesses and advocating for local chefs and restaurants. Andrew’s work has been published in newspapers and magazines across Canada, the United States and England. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

SEE WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING IN WATERLOO REGION. CHECK OUT THE LOCAL BUZZ!