BY ANDREW COPPOLINO | AUGUST 2022
Here’s a selection of farmer-producers and hand-crafted food specialists (who often use the Region’s fresh local ingredients for their food preparation) that you will find as you eat your way through the Cambridge Farmers’ Market!
CAMBRIDGE FARMERS’ MARKET
Howell Road Cider
Brantview Apples, a long-time family apple-grower, is at the near-geographic hub of Cambridge, Brantford, Hamilton, and Kitchener with about 25 acres of orchards – of which 2021 represented the Howell family’s 200th harvest. That’s a lot of apples.
“Howell Road Cider is a British-style dry cider,” says Sydney Adams of Howell Road. “And the cider-maker, Jen Howell, is an eighth-generation apple farmer.”
As the seasons change and the fruit with them, so the cidery prepares its ancient beverage. “We usually have about three to four consistent ciders, and then the variety of the seasonals and whatever fruit is then available,” according to Adams, who adds that the beverage alcohol content in the cider is 5½-7%.
Having sold their cider – 100% small-batch Ontario apples and naturally gluten-free – at the Market for a few years now, it’s clearly a strong relationship for both producers and customers. “We have really enjoyed being at the market,” says Adams.
Proprietor’s Pick: Right now, the raspberry-lemonade cider is a delicious summer staple,” says Adams. “It’s a co-ferment with local raspberries and lemon juice.”
Om Sai Satvik Food
Co-owner Meghna Prajapati (with husband Dharmesh Prajapati) prepare ready-made frozen meals at their Cambridge Market booth and have done so since October 2021.
“The dishes we prepare are primarily vegetarian, but because many Indian people are eating more vegan meals, we are making more of those too,” says Meghna Prajapati.
The satvik diet follows Ayurvedic philosophy and practice for health but most simply it’s food that is vegetarian or vegan, fresh, wholesome and tastes good.
“I want customers to know that Indian food doesn’t have to be spicy,” Prajapati. “We make Gujarati dishes, traditionally, cooked with spices that are flavourful in your mouth.” Gujarat is on the west coast of India, bordering Pakistan to the north.
A key technique in Indian cooking is “tempering:” the spices are toasted in a hot pan to release their flavours before the other ingredients are added, she says. “We use many spices including mustard seed, turmeric, red chili and especially garam masala.”
Proprietor’s Pick: “The chana masala chickpea curry. It’s kind of like a stew. Or I would suggest our butter paneer with peas pulao.”
British Baked Goods
Partners and business partners Karen and Clive Eynon started this family business in 1989 and have been at the market for nearly three decades. From-scratch baking is the name of the game: the range is wide but perhaps based in the foods of the southwest of England, says Karen.
“It’s old-country recipes. Everything from meat pies to cookies to breads, including gluten-free, which we’ve been making since 1992. There’s a lot more people eating gluten-free now,” she says.
Proprietor’s Pick: “Oh, the sausage rolls! They’re 100% pork with home-made puff pastry and salt and pepper and that’s it,” Karen says. Simple and delicious is always the way to go.
Burke Brothers Farms
Brian Burke and his father Allen oversee operations in Norfolk County, 35-acres of farm that started in 1966 and which has been visiting the Market since 1996. Brian Burke says the farm has a special relationship with its customers as a trusted source of the best produce from the area.
“We’ve grown into almost like a greengrocer,” Burke says. “We’ve built a relationship with our other farmers. I know them personally, so we can bring the very best produce to Cambridge,” says Burke.
That could be pickling cucumbers, Roma tomatoes, beets and peppers – “all the best stuff for canning right now,” he notes. Among his strong alliances with Norfolk producers are White’s Potatoes, Welsh Brothers (for “the best sweet corn,” Burke says) and Shabatura Farms.
In his time as a farmer, Burke says customers are more educated about the food they are buying. “I’d say that over time, there are more people who really care about good-quality produce to buy and eat.”
Proprietor’s Pick: “Believe it or not, I’d say pickling cucumbers,” Burke says. “They’re great for pickling, but to me they’re the best eating cucumber right now too. Raw, they’re just the best. I love them.”
If you are looking for late-season berries, Scotview Orchard can set you up. They grow “day neutral,” ever-bearing strawberries and raspberries that grow, weather cooperating, well into the fall, according to Mary Van Brugge.
Mary and Peter, along with their sons, sell produce at a number of markets in southwestern Ontario – and have been doing so since 1983. Working 25 acres of fruit crops, Van Brugge says it certainly keeps them busy.
“It’s all hand work, hand labour,” she says. “We don’t use machinery.”
They grow plums and apples, the latter of which they have pressed into their own cider from the fresh fall fruit that’s grown on their farm located at the edge of Brant County and which they bring to Cambridge.
Van Brugge says the customer-traffic at the Market is stable and consistent, with summer shoppers obviously coming in greater numbers for the fresh produce. “With the fruit, including the Niagara fruit, summer is busy. But the winter is steady too with people really supporting local farmers. The only real difference from, say, the 1980s is that fewer people are canning now.”
Proprietor’s Pick: “Well, I love plums. I love all the fruit we grow. This afternoon, I picked an apple to check how ripe it was,” says Mary Van Brugge.