Saturday, 9 May 2015

The 2 Week Countdown Has Begun....

The vendors of the Bradford Farmers' Market are happy to announce our 2015 season.  We will be located at the Bradford West Gwillimbury Library and Cultural Centre parking lot beginning on May 23.  We will be there every Saturday from 8 am until 1 pm.  Our season runs until October 23rd.  We can't wait to see you and share the bounty of the season with you!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Planning for 2014

We are currently in the planning stages of 2014 and are actively looking for vendors.  Send us an email at to get more information.


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Why should you shop at a Farmers' Market?

Farmers’ markets have been in the news lately.  The fire at the famous St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market made headlines last week, but farmers’ markets have been a popular destination for many for years, enjoying a resurgence since the 1990s.  Some people consider their local farmers’ market an incredibly important part of their community and visit it weekly, others have never stepped foot in their community’s market, not knowing what it has to offer.  And why should anyone care about their local farmers’ market?  Is there really a difference between shopping at a farmers’ market or a grocery store? As a lifelong market shopper, as well as a vendor at my town’s local market, I'd like to offer my opinion.

As a little girl living in Amsterdam, my mother would take us to the Albert Cuypmarkt, a daily outdoor market every week.  In addition to produce, fish, meat, and baked goods, this market sold just about everything; clothing, dishes, curtains, and material.  I guess my mother and all the thousands of people who shopped there each day were trendsetters, because back in the 1970s, local food was the only way!  However, it wasn’t until I moved to Kitchener in the 1990s that I really started loving markets – and who could resist with the Famous Kitchener Market and the St. Jacob’s Markets on my doorstep!  When my girls were little, I would quietly slip out of bed on Saturday mornings, and, leaving my family still sleeping, I would head out to the market.  Before the busiest crowds arrived, I could stock up on locally grown and produced meats, cheeses, breads, baked goods, and of course, fresh-from-the-farm produce.  The German and Mennonite influences made these markets unique (as every market is) and oh, so wonderful! 

I originally became a market supporter because of my desire to eat locally, but that is just one of the reasons to shop a farmers’ market.  What you will find at your local market is incredible freshness, a connection with the season, a relationship with the producers that allows you to ask questions about growing/producing processes, a community connection, truly unique products, fun through live entertainment, and spending time with friends.

I noticed recently at my local supermarket that the produce directly in front of the doors is stored in cardboard boxes designed to look like old-fashioned crates.  Cute, I guess.  Are they trying to pretend they are a farmers’ market?  They haven’t fooled me.  I took my local supermarket to task early this summer when they had asparagus from Peru on the shelves instead of local asparagus during Ontario’s asparagus season.  This is one of the problems with chain supermarkets – in order to make sure they can meet the demand their flyers create, they can’t buy from local farmers.  It really upsets me!  Whether you shop at your farmers’ market or not, demand your supermarket carries local produce.  And just walk away if they don’t!  It takes our voices to make sure our local farmers stay in business.  I don’t know about you, but as an Ontarian, I am not interested in produce from China!  In addition, supermarkets have done us a great disservice by eliminating the seasons.  We can now get every kind of produce any time of year.  However, a lot of these products get picked before they are ripe, before the flavours are developed, so they can survive their week(s) long journey to your store, but hey!  Nothing better than flavourless strawberries in December, right?

This is one of the reasons a farmers' market is so special.  Most of the products you will find at a market are locally grown or produced.  I know our market sets strict limits on where the food can come from, and in fact, where a vendor can come from.  Of course we can't grow every kind of fruit and vegetable close to home.  For example, in our neck of the woods we grow excellent carrots and onions in the muck soil of the Holland Marsh, but we do not have the right climate or soil conditions to grown peaches, plums and grapes, those are products we bring in from the Niagara region.  Our guidelines encourages Ontario produce from farther away if we can't grow it ourselves, and we mark all products as needed.  

I have always found my first visit to a new farmers’ market overwhelming, but never unpleasant.  While I know what I am getting at any supermarket - every store’s layout it pretty much the same, the staff is all in matching uniforms and I am pretty anonymous as I roll my cart up and down the aisles – things are different at a farmers’ market.  Each one is unique.  I like to walk the entire market just looking at all the different vendors (stopping for samples along the way!) then walk it a second time to do my buying.  

You will meet many different personalities – the local people who help to feed you might be people you have not met before, or perhaps you have - at church or at the local arena.  And there they are, bringing you their best!  The sounds you experience will be different than what you have heard at the supermarket too - you will hear change jingling in vendor’s aprons, not the electronic sound of cash registers, you will hear each vendor describing their products with pride, you will hear live local music instead of piped in pop music, you will hear laughter and joy.  The smells will be different too.  You might smell the earth still clinging to the root vegetables and the smoke of the barbeque, the strong smell of just picked onions and the beautiful scent of basil, fragrant soaps, spicy sausages, fresh baked goods and sweet maple syrup.  The crowds will be unique - dogs with their owners and children smiling happily in strollers, your neighbours out with friends for a morning coffee, cyclists and runners (still in their gear) stopping to refuel, families meeting up for lunch.  I’ll bet you won’t walk away without a sample or two and let’s face it, it is hard to resist the bounty of the season, the freshness and the good spirits.

I have learned a lot about the food and the business of it while purchasing at farmers’ markets.  This is also the place to learn about your community’s agricultural roots (and in Bradford, agriculture is what our town was built on!) by speaking directly to the farmers.  Ask them the questions you want answered.  How do they grow their products?  How do they treat their animals?  Where are they located?  What makes them unique?  When was the produce picked?  Won’t you be shocked to learn that some of the produce was picked that morning!

The market is also where you will meet the supporting vendors and their unique products.  Farmers’ Market Ontario regulates official farmers’ markets in Ontario and have a ratio system that requires there to be more producers than non-producers.  So that means in addition to the people selling you their produce, meats, eggs, honey, flour, milk and dairy products, you will also find jam makers, bakers, jewelers, soap artists and dog treat creators, barbeque masters, crafters and artists.  

What a great way to learn more about your community!  I always find that the supporting vendors are the ones who help round out the unique atmosphere every market has.  Talk to the vendor who spends her week making local jams and jellies, ask her how she learned her craft.  Speak with the vendor whose passion for her dogs and their good health has led her to create her own dog treat business.  That florist has beautiful flowers – can she help create something beautiful for your next event?  How long has that vendor been making her own soaps and why are her products better than what you can buy at the store?  (And you can bet they are!)   What about the vendor with those cookies – what’s her story and are those cookies as yummy as they look?  Maybe she’ll have samples!  (I'm the cookie vendor at my market - and yes, I always have samples!)  And that barbeque smell?!  It probably hit you before you walked in, yes, it is as yummy as it tastes!  Find out what makes the barbeque couple get out of bed at 5am on a Saturday morning?  Look - pies!  Ask if they can make your favourite flavour for next week.

Each market is unique - in layout, in vendors who sell their products, in customers who frequent.  What isn’t unique is the quality, the freshness and the happy feelings.  Take some time this week to visit your local market, I bet you will be glad you did!

Written by Laura Vree, vendor at the Bradford Farmers' Market in Bradford, Ontario

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The 2013 Season of the Bradford Farmers' Market has Begun!

From left to right: Gloria Reszler, Councilor Ron Simpson, vendor Kelsey McMaster, Deputy Mayor Rob Keffer, Pierrette Grondin, vendor Laura Vree, Councilor Carl Hordyk, Mayor Doug White, MP Peter van Loan, MPP Julia Munro, VP of Membership BBT James McNeill.  Missing from the photograph - the rest of the wonderful vendors and our terrific customers!!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Market Gift Basket

At the beginning of the season we decided to have a weekly gift basket.  Each week our volunteer Danielle goes around and collects a small product from each vendor and puts it in the basket.  Ballots are given out with purchases and every week someone wins this beautiful basket of market products worth well over $40!

Brandon from Mid-Valley Gardens donates a fresh pepper to our gift basket.

Jen from Springh Farms donates fresh Ontario garlic to our gift basket.

JP from Pioneer Honey donates a jar of fresh honey to our gift basket.
Laura from Sweet Handmade donates a decorated sugar cookie to our gift basket.

Kumar from Nuka donates a lip balm to our gift basket.

Kelsey from Stephanie and Kelsey's Pies and Crisps donates butter tarts to our gift basket.

Celina from Rusty Q's BBQ donates a gift certificate to our gift basket.

Rob from Lakeview Gardens donates a beautiful plant to our gift basket.

Jason from Carron Farms donates fresh garlic scapes and Ontario strawberries to our gift basket.

Denise from Dingo Farms donates beef jerky to our gift basket.
Pierrette from Pennies from Heaven donates placemats to our gift basket.

Jan from Jan's Jams donates a jar of preserves to our gift basket.

 Anton from Anton's Woodcrafts donates a butter spreader to our gift basket.

Amanda from Pook Designz donates hair clips to our gift basket.

While we try our hardest to hand out ballots with each purchase, sometimes the high number of customers in line or our sheer forgetfulness means you do not get your ballot.  Please remind us or speak to someone at the welcome booth!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Grand Opening!

We feel that being outdoors is part of the appeal of the farmers' market.  As we transitioned into a market run by the vendors and worked on finding a new location, we were offered indoor locations.  That would be a great way to run a year-round market, but we want to be outside during the summer months.  So we will continue to be a seasonal market for now.

Being outdoors does have its challenges, as you might guess.  Week two was an incredibly windy affair.  Cold and windy, in fact.  A number of our tents were damaged and many of us just wanted to crawl under a warm blanket.  However, week three caused us the most stress.

The weather forecast was dire with an 80% chance of precipitation, namely thundershowers.  And our grand opening was scheduled for 10am!  However, after we set up, the sun peeked out a little bit and it ended up staying dry the entire time!  What a relief that was as we welcomed many of our town's leaders, our MPP and so many supportive customers to our festivities.  It was a terrific day with face painting, music by Steve Pallet and delicious carrot cake courtesy of Sweet Handmade.  We took way too few pictures but here are just a few. 

Councillor Carl Hordyk, MPP Julia Munro, vendor Kelsey McMaster, Councillor Gary Lamb, vendor Laura Vree, Mayor Doug White, Deputy Mayor Rob Keffer, ribbon cutting assistant Jamie, Councillor Raj Sandhu, vendor Pierrette Grondin and Councillor James Leduc 
A peak at our market early in the morning, before the big crowds.