I’ve noticed that a few of the blogs I follow (thank you Google Reader) have been doing 10 on Tuesday, so figured I’d jump on board and give it a shot. This week’s 10 are all about the Farmer’s Market
1. Fresh Produce: After being a SPUD subscriber, I have to say that I do appreciate being able to handle and choose my produce personally. Not that SPUD was bad, just that sometimes they had limited selection and sometimes the quality was just a little hit & miss.
2. Meats: I will admit to enjoying Buffalo, Caribou, and other free-range animals. At one point, we wound up with chicken breasts that kept us fed for about a month – a single breast was enough for two people! Getting these non-feedlot meats at a decent price is absolutely wonderful.
3. Bakery Goods: I don’t get to eat them often, but the closest Farmer’s Market has some wonderful pie vendors for everything from meat pies to fruit pies. My grandmother absolutely spoiled me for freshly-baked pies and pastries 🙂
4. Honey and honey products: It’s something I’ve noticed here in Calgary — there are at least two Farmer’s Markets that have had large honey stands. My grandfather was a beekeeper for a bit, and our home in the Ottawa Valley had a hive of honeybees in one wall, so I’m actually quite partial to the humble honeybee. Scared witless when they get too close, but fond of them in principle. I enjoy the occasional comb, and we’ve started a small collection of mead. Nummy!
5. Crafting Supplies: Occasionally, I will find vendors with discontinued cross-stitch patterns and other crafting supplies. Oddly enough, for a “farming province”, I have yet to find any knitting or spinning supplies (DON’T get me started. It’s one of my bugaboos about the Calgary Stampede)
6. Handcrafted items: One of the Markets we visited last year had handcrafted woodwork items. I was almost tempted to pick up a new wine cork. I may just have to see if they’re still around once I’m not on a nocturnal schedule.
7. Location: There are at least 3 or 4 Farmer’s Markets in the Calgary area. The one we go to most often is the Crossroads market just outside Inglewood. There’s another one down by Chinook that we have visited once or twice. Robin has managed to find himself at a Market with just a little wandering in one direction or another.
8. Parking: Unfortunately, not all Markets are created equal. Apparently the “big” Market was once at the Currie Barracks, but has now relocated closer to a more industrial area. From what I hear, the parking is abysmal. Not only that, but the place apparently doesn’t live up to the hype. A couple of the other markets, Crossroads, for example, have adequate parking for their demographic, with residential curbside parking not too far away. Chances are pretty good in this city that if you’re going to the Farmer’s Market, you’re doing some travelling to get there. Unfortunately more a statement about our urban sprawl than anything else.
9. Price: Part of why that oth”big” Farmer’s Market doesn’t stack up, apparently. In addition to the parking situation, they apparently jacked up the prices. I’ll be honest…I’m not going to the market to pay boutique prices. I’m going to find food and items at a reasonable price. That’s not to say “cheap”. Reasonable. If I can get the exact same wares with the exact same quality at the Safeway or Mall for the same price or less, then why even bother going to the Market, right? Luckily, we haven’t had to worry about this quite yet.
10. Sense of Community: This is one of the more important reasons I go. I grew up in a fairly rural area. I can remember friends’ parents sending me home from their farm with fresh produce. My grandfather grew his own veggies in the back garden. My parents used to take me berry picking, and every so often…we’d wind up at a Farmer’s Market or community fair. There’s just something about wandering through the stalls on a crisp fall morning, looking at freshly harvested fruits and veggies, and making plans for the next week of dinners, or the perfect carving pumpkin. Talking with the vendors, getting to know their stock…it’s something that the local grocery store just doesn’t offer.