Farmers’ Market Finds

Photo: Flickr.com/AanikaP
From mushroom logs to smoked whitefish, we’ve turned up a few unique, edible gems at Canadian markets

The weather is finally making it feel like a classic Canadian summer, and that means a visit to a local farmers’ market is in order. Shopping at a farmers’ markets is a lot more fun than walking the grocery aisles—cooled to a teeth-chattering temperature and lit with fluroscent lights—and it’s also a wonderful way to support local food vendors. But it’s the unique gems that can be sourced at farmers’ markets (and guaranteed NOT to be found at a chain store) that will keep you coming back for more.

Here are our favourite Canadian farmers’ market finds:

MUSHROOMS

1. Fun Guy Farms

Bruno Pretti and Paula Vopni are mushroom growers. Their cultivated mushroom company, Fun Guy Farms, offers an endless variety of distinctive fresh and dried mushrooms including shiitake, king oyster and reishi, as well as other mushroom-related products (think delectable mushroom pesto). They are dedicated to sustainable agriculture and the production of the highest quality fresh and organic mushrooms.

All Fun Guy Farms mushrooms are cultivated on a certified-organic farm, located about 50 kilometres north of Toronto, near Goodwood. Owner Bruno Pretti is quick to ensure purchasers that all his mushrooms are grown on wood not composted animal manure, which creates a better product. Aspiring to be a mushroom grower yourself? They also sell home cultivation kits including inoculated logs and spawn to get things going.

To shop online, visit: mycosource.com

Where to find: In Toronto at Riverdale Farmers’ Market, Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers’ Market, Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market and Green Barn Farmers' Market.

WILD FOODS

1. Forbes Wild Foods

Forbes Wild Foods focuses entirely on creating and selling “wild foods,” or edibles that grow naturally in the Canadian wilderness. Their products are harvested in remote regions across the country, from Labrador to the islands of British Columbia. A unique mark of this company is that all of their ingredients are handpicked by people trained in sustainable harvesting techniques. None of their products are subject to any artificial colours, preservatives, herbicides, pesticides, irradiation or genetic engineering.

Some of the exceptional products that owner Jonathan Forbes offers include: dried wild mushrooms, wild rice, maple sugar, preserved wild foods (fiddleheads and cattail hearts), jams and compotes (barberry, chokeberry and high bush cranberry), mustards and chestnut flour. And, the fact that it is a local company, which provides jobs for hundreds of indigenous people, is just an amazing added bonus.

To shop online, visit: wildfoods.ca

Where to find: Numerous food shops and grocery stores across Canada, including Savour Fine Foods in Calgary, Plenty Epicurean Pantry in Victoria and Canada in a Basket in Ottawa; in Toronto, at Brickworks Farmers’ Market, Riverdale Farmers’ Market, Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers’ Market, Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market and Green Barn Farmers’ Market.

2. Gourmet Sauvage

This company harvests wild Canadian vegetables and fruit and turns them into a smorgasbord of products, including cedar jelly, Saskatoon berry jam, sea asparagus, dried chanterelles, frozen rosehips and wild plums.

No preservatives are used; instead, products are prepared with only wild produce, pure organic sugar, sea salt and concentrated lemon juice.

For more information: gourmetsauvage.ca/

FISH

1. Akiwenzie's Fish

Akiwenzie Fish & More brings fresh and smoked Georgian Bay fish to farmers markets in Ontario. Andrew and Natasha Akiwenzie run this First Nations-owned family business the Chippewas of Nawash reserve on the shores of Georgian Bay. They offer incredibly delicious products including fresh and smoked whitefish and lake trout. Their delicate smoked fish is lovingly crafted for 5 to 7 hours, using maple chips with gives it a distinctly Canadian flavour. Their fish is caught locally too, just north of Wiarton, Ontario, on the Bruce Peninsula.

For more information: Keep you up-to-date on fishing conditions and what's new at their company, visit: akiwenziesfish.blogspot.com

Where to find: In Ontario, Owen Sound Farmers’ Market, Riverdale Farmers’ Market, Dufferin Grove Farmers’ Market, Green Barn Farmers’ Market and Brickworks Farmers’ Market.


2. Oven Head Salmon Smokers

A cold-smoked process using maple chips gives Oven Head’s local salmon a wonderful flavour.

For more information: ovenheadsmokers.com

Where to find: The Oven Head store in Bethel, N.B., Boyce Farmers’ Market in Fredericton, and numerous other locations across the country (and even a couple in the US!).

PLANTS & GARDEN SUPPLIES

1. Urban Harvest / Earthly Paradise

Urban Harvest sells seedlings and garden supplies that promote ecological health and diversity and are aimed at Canada’s growing legion of urban gardeners. Their popular vegetable offerings include heirloom and local varieties like the Montreal Melon, Box Car Willie Tomato and Purple Finger Eggplants. All seedlings and plant seeds are certified organic and locally grown (helping to support the local economy. For anyone not in Ontario, they have an online store and are able to ship seeds and garden supplies anywhere across Canada.

To order online, visit: http://store.uharvest.ca/

Where to find: In Toronto, Riverdale Farmers Market, Dufferin Grove Farmers Market, The Village Market at the Waldorf School in Richmond Hill.


2. Boreal Aquatics

A supplier of wetland and aquatlic plants native to Canada’s boreal forest (zones 0 – 3) for ponds and water gardens! The owners are Sylvan Katz and Jennifer Osachoff; he’s a research scientist and she’s on her way to becoming a Master Gardener.

For more information: borealaquatics.com

Where to find: The Saskatoon Farmer’s Market