UPDATED for 2011! Though we’re mid-way through summer, I thought I’d do a quick round-up of markets in the downtown Toronto core. There are several in a (roughly) 1km radius of City Hall, which makes it easy to pick up fresh local fruits and produce before work, during the lunch hour, or on a weekend. I’ve enjoyed ridiculously fragrant peaches, sweet cherries, and intensely flavoured wild blueberries during my numerous excursions to the various surrounding markets. I’ve also gotten duds too, so when you go, look out for those offering samples – and use your nose.
Scroll down to the end of the post for a map of all the markets listed (running Tuesday through Saturday).
MyMarket – Sick Kids Hospital (Tuesdays, 9am – 2pm, 2011 end-date unknown)
I find the increase in markets a telling indicator that people are into food preparation and knowing the provenance of their ingredients more than ever before. This was reinforced by the MyPick logo on tents at the Sick Kids’ MyMarket to indicate that they were a “verified local farmer” versus some random people selling food-terminal goods. This is a mid-sized market on the circular drive of the hospital and seemed quite lively when I made my visit in the middle of the day. There was a nice selection of herbs at one end of the drive, however, I ended up with some fresh corn and ran off to cook it right away.
- Sick Kids’ Hospital, 555 University Ave., North of Elm St.
- MyMarket Website
Nathan Phillip’s Square Market (Wednesdays 8am – 2:30pm, to Oct 19, 2011)
Ontario Farm Fresh has run this market since 1990 and its central location draws many in the core. This large public space has farms offering fruits, produce, cured meats, honey, and cheese. Also on-site are are food vendors (I love the fresh-roasted corn) and some promotional booths. Everything is widely spread out, so make sure you walk the entirety of the square. I’m always tempted by the Stroopwafels one vendor offers, but during this visit, I snagged a small sampling of cheese. Note that the Farmers’ Markets Ontario site states they open at 8am, whereas the City Hall site says 10am. I’ve never been earlier than 10:30am.
- Toronto City Hall, North-West corner of Bay St. & Queen St.
- More information on Farmers’ Markets Ontario
Queen’s Quay Terminal Farmer’s Market (Wednesdays, 3pm – 7pm, to Oct. 26, 2011)
Now, I only just discovered this one via the Toronto Farmer’s Market Network site while I was writing this post, so I have no idea what this is like. Anyone been?
- Queen’s Quay, 207 Queen’s Quay West
- Queen’s Quay Site
Bay Adelaide Centre Farmer’s Market (Thursdays 11am – 2pm, to Sept. 15, 2011)
Evergreen Brick Works has a satellite outpost on Thursdays just off Adelaide and features local producers as well as caterers and restaurants. St. John’s Bakery, JK Kitchens, Hank’s, LPK’s Culinary Groove, Montforte, and other familiar names line the courtyard to create a mid-sized market and lunch-spot. I bought some lovely heirloom carrots (picked that morning!), curly kale, and some bread.
- Arnell Plaza, Bay Adelaide Centre, Adelaide St., East of Bay St.
- Evergreen Brick Works
Brookfield Place Fruit & Vegetable Market (Thursdays 9am – 4pm, no 2011 confirmation)
Brookfield Place – or as most Torontonians know it, BCE place – hosts a short row of tables with both local and international produce, and a bread and sausage vendor. The latter at which I obtained some Mennonite summer sausage that I’ll be working my way through for the rest of the season. It’s not the smallest market, but it’s pretty limited. Also note that this isn’t a true “farmer’s market” since I spied figs and other non-local things on offer.
- Brookfield Place, enter off Front St., East of Bay St.
- Brookfield Place
Metro Hall Farmer’s Market (Thursdays, 8am – 2:30pm, to Oct. 20, 2011)
If you missed Wednesday’s Nathan Phillip’s Square market, you can catch up with many familiar vendors (like the cheese booth, on of the fruit vendors, and meat truck) here on Thursdays. I picked up some buckwheat honey and farm-fresh eggs at this market. The central grassy area makes a nice space to sit and relax. For no definable reason, I like this market best.
- Metro Hall Square, 55 John St. (enter off King St., between Roy Thompson Hall and Metro Hall.)
- City of Toronto: Indulge
Farmer’s Organic Market (Saturdays, 9am – 3pm, year-round)
The smallest market that I visited consisted of two short tables, all from one producer. A good range of items, as well as more specialty items you’ll have to chat with the farmer about. This one is a real neighbourhood stop. I picked up some tasty blueberries, sugar plums, and zucchini. Apparently this market goes year-round. Brr.
- St. George the Martyr Church, 197 John Street
- Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada
St. Lawrence Farmer’s Market (Saturdays, from 5am, year-round)
And of course, we have the St. Lawrence Farmer’s Market (make sure it’s the North building!) that opens up way early on Saturdays. I hear there’s lots of produce then and tables are bursting, but I’ve never been able to haul my keister out of bed that early. At midday, there’s plenty left for me to look at: meat, veggies, eggs, baked goods and more. I buy my dark maple syrup for baking from the guy outside the front of the building.
- St. Lawrence Market, North Building, 92 Front St. East
- St. Lawrence Market
Handy-dandy Market Map
I know, not everyone works/lives in the core, so here are some links to find a market near you:
- Ontario Farmer’s Markets is the big list-dump of all markets. A bit difficult to navigate
- List of GTA (ish) markets on Taste T.O. Much easier to read. They also have daily posts that remind you of what markets are going on that day.
- Toronto Farmer’s Market Network is a more consolidated list. The google map they have is nice to use.
I was spurred on to explore and check everything out by a thread on Chowhound (thanks Greg!) and then prompted by the handy-dandy daily Flavours Of The Day round-up from Taste T.O. (uh… that’s Greg again), so hopefully, this will get some of you out there in turn. Eat some delicious local produce, take the time to wander the market, get to know your local farmers and vendors. You have until the end of August or the beginning of September to git ‘er done, so don’t hesitate and miss the good stuff.