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Market News, 2006

posted December 10, 2006

Farmers' Market News

Market vendor Jessie Sosnicki rents a church kitchen near their farm to make and freeze the perogies that she and her husband Ben sell at the farmers’ market (and that the zamboni café sells too). Jessie is Ukrainian and Ben is Polish, and between them they have conscripted enough relatives and friends to make 2000 perogies at a time (350 packages). Jessie writes, “I'm going to start a photo/video diary of our works at the hall, as these ladies are so great and we have so many laughs and most are so old now (the kitchen manager turned 80 this month).”

Jessie plans to heat and serve portions of their roasted sauerkraut, hot beans and corn with organic butter at their market table this winter, all their own produce that they froze this past growing season. She writes, “I do think this is important to carry on the tradition of eating local in the winter. And when folks taste my frozen vegetables, even though they’ve been blanched and have lost a FEW precious vitamins, they might think local instead of imports on those types of veggie anyhow.” The warm corn and the warm green beans and the roasted sauerkraut will be served on “cabbage plates” – cabbage leaves that can be composted afterwards.

Market manager Anne Freeman has been going to many market meetings (including in Los Angeles and New Orleans) in the past year, sponsored by a grant Foodshare got for promoting more farmers’ markets. Anne says that many farmers feel that suburban markets are much easier on them – not so much traffic, easier access to their trucks and produce. She writes, “We're so lucky, wouldn't you agree? We have a great group of farmers who hardly ever grumble--well okay, sometimes they do, but it's very good-natured--about the hard work of setting up the indoor market away from their trucks, and the long trip into town.”

Now that much of the market is back inside the rink house for the winter, Anne also writes: “We need your assistance in making the winter arrangements work. When you have a lot of great food to haul home, jumbo strollers, bundle buggies and wagons are very handy, but they do take up a lot of room. Please, if you need to bring a "vehicle" along, leave it outside when that's possible, or try your very best not to block the flow of people through those bottlenecks in the rink house. Nobody wishes to be grumpy about this; let's make it work.”

And skaters: sorry for the Thursday crowds. From 2 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays you need to change your skates outside. The rest of the time, the rink clubhouse is yours.


posted November 19, 2006

The Market goes undercover (of tents)

November 16, 2006 was the first day some of the market vendors were able to sell their produce under cover of two 20' long tents along the outside west wall of the rinkhouse. Anne Freeman, Market Manager, says the tents come with "walls" for the west face that can be velcro'd on to provide protection against the winter wind. The tents were purchased with the proceeds of the recent Market Tasting Fair, and private donations.

posted November 8, 2006

Adventures in the Life of a Market Manager: New Orleans

This year I have been working with Foodshare on a project they received funding for from Project for Public Spaces, based in New York. This project supports networks of farmers' markets in diverse regions and circumstances. The Toronto project, still in the fledgling stages, is aimed at building effective ways to get produce to communities that don't have good fresh food access, strengthening links between existing and new markets around the city, and supporting local agriculture through access to healthy city markets.

A requirement of the project is attendance at convening meetings, when participants from the nine groups that received grants learn together, and share ideas and information. I have gained a lot from meeting these people, who have a great combined wealth of experience. Ideas both large and small will contribute to our market and, I hope, to others as well. For now, though, I'd like to share some of my impressions of the place the meetings were held, as a first visit to New Orleans is an intense experience these days.

posted Noavember 11, 2006


Market manager Anne Freeman has been working with Foodshare on a project they received funding for from Project for Public Spaces [ed. see grant program], based in New York. She writes: “The Toronto part of the project, still in the fledgling stages, is aimed at building effective ways to get produce to communities that don't have good fresh food access, strengthening links between existing and new markets around the city, and supporting local agriculture through access to healthy city markets.” Anne’s stories about the project are at, click on “market.”

This year the winter market will have some market tents outside, European-style, against the west wall of the rink house, for the hardier farmers. That means a campfire to warm up by, hot chocolate from Choco-sol, and maybe some heaters for the farmers’ feet. Warm smiles from the market customers will do the rest.


posted posted October 18, 2006


This year’s tasting fair, on October 1, was very well-attended again despite an overcast day and the inevitable shower. All the food was sold out but not until the event was almost over, and the fair raised over $1000 for the market and another $600 for the park. Market manager Anne Freeman is buying some long market tents with those funds, because some of the farmers are willing to stay outside long the front wall (with heaters!), since that makes more room for new vendors when the market moves back in for the winter.

At the beginning of November Anne is going to a farmers’ market conference in New Orleans, where the food supply has been precarious for a while. She’ll post an account of her experiences on the market web site when she gets back.


posted October 12, 2006

Farmers' Market Goes to Feast Of Fields

Anna Bekerman, Mary Sylwester and Anne Freeman (Market Manager) went to represent the market at the Feast of Fields event in the Albion Hills in September 2006. Many of our vendors were participants, too (Deer Valley, Kensington Market Organic Ice Cream, Fun Guy Farms, Urban Harvest, the other "Feast of Fields"--Laura Sabourin, Berettas, etc.)

Anne Freeman at the Dufferin Market Display at The Feast of Fields, Albion Hills, September 2006

posted October 2, 2006

Tasting Fair a Great Success

The October 1, 2006 Tasting Fair was a great success!

See the Tasting Fair Photo Gallery.

posted posted September 21, 2006

Street Food Book Supports Dufferin Grove Park

Every sale at the park of this interesting book contributes $10 to the park. Liz Martin, who is a park neighbour and works at Sumach Press, the publisher, will also be cooking for the Tasting Fair from the book.

"Street Food From Around the World" is available through bookstores, online (,, etc) and directly from Sumach. People who are interested can also get them from the the Dufferin Grove Park office (ie around the rinkhouse), and Liz will have a few at the Tasting Fair.

From Sumach Press, the publisher:

Street Food from Around the World:
Easy Quick Meals to Cook at Home
by Troth Wells

Sizzling, stirring, grilling, steaming!

In her latest cookbook, Troth Wells evokes the world of street food where young and old, rich and poor enjoy delicious, fresh tastes from vendors around the world. Journey through Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia while you learn how to create popular street food recipes.

Simple to make, fun and quick, all recipes are adapted for Western kitchens with easy-to-follow instructions, prepararion and cooking times. Wells also suggests alternatives for hard-to-find ingredients. Most of the recipes are vegetarian or can be easily adapted, and there are many options for vegans. Information on ways to support fair trade and organic producers is also included.

Over fifty full-page, mouth-watering food photos are paired with travel photos and anecdotes from travellers to create this inspirational, informative and entertaining book. Additionally, in her fascinating introduction Wells contributes her perspective on the cultural importance of street food as well as its economic and social impact on communities.

About the Author: Troth Wells is the Publications Editor for the New Internationalist magazine and the English-language editor of The World Guide, produced by the Third World Institute in Uruguay. She has travelled in Central America, Africa, India and Southeast Asia.

176 pages, $24.95 ($10 from every sale goes to the Park)

posted August 13, 2006

2006 Market Patron Survey

Scene from the Dufferin Grove Farmers' Market
from Berman Photo Gallery

Hello Everybody,

Thanks to all of you for supporting Mary Lou's market survey project. We've had a good look at the results, and wanted to share some things we've observed. Many things didn't come as a surprise, but there were useful reminders and things to be learned. I've summarized the main points below. Just under a hundred surveys were returned of the many that went out. Not as many as we'd hoped for, but the answers were very thoughtful, and about thirty new subscribers joined the market e-news list, so that was a good side-effect. Also, ten of the respondents didn't yet realize that we run year-round, so that tells us it wasn't only "old" fans who took the time to do the survey, and reminds us to keep on telling people we're around 52 weeks a year!

Some info:

1) Although this has been a summer when Jutta and myself have observed many, many new faces, the survey emphasized how much strength comes from the immediate neighbourhood. Over 70% of respondents come from under 2km away. So, if anyone feels concerned that another organic market elsewhere in the city would undermine our success, that fact should be reassuring. Just over 40% walk, a quarter drive and a quarter bike, the rest take the TTC.

2) 57% of the respondents shop at the market every week, and another 16% come every other week; we have a very dedicated group of regulars. About 40% said that they shop at other markets as well; this included Kensington and St. Lawrence as most common.

3) 28% of respondents were in their twenties, 32% in their thirties, 20% in their forties, 9% in their fifties....

4) 16% shop for one, 31% shop for two people, 26% for three, the remaining 14% for four or more.

5) Almost half learned about the market from a friend or word of mouth. It's the best advertising there is! Another 24% said they found us because of our location in the park.

6) Almost half of respondents attend other events in the park, notably theatre. Prepared food vendors, please take note: events in the park during or following the market have a big impact on how many meals are consumed at the market. You can better estimate how busy you'll be by taking a look at the "events calendar" on the website to see what's on each Thursday.

7) A third of shoppers spend about an hour at the market, almost a third spend thirty minutes or less, and the others stay 2, 3 hours or even longer. We're curious about those speedy shoppers....

8) When asked what the most important aspects of the market are, "local" and "organic" were tied for by far the most significant. Meeting producers was next in importance, then the community meeting place that the market offers, with price just below on the list, and specialty foods lower in priority. We also asked customers to tell us their favourite things about the market, and here again, local and organic were mentioned many times, along with the friendly, community-oriented atmosphere, the quality and the variety. Lots of individual, special comments here, too.

9) Many people felt the market has had an effect on their eating habits or attitudes towards food; comments here were very positive, and the educational role of the market is clearly significant.

10) Respondents' "wish list" and other comments:
-both earlier and later hours were requested(about ten comments in all, more for earlier),
-more winter space/complaints about winter crowding mentioned a number of times(don't we know it!)
-more vendors/bigger space
-a Saturday market
-complaints about strollers, crowds
-an alternative to Earthbound produce
-activities/events for kids & adults
-ingredients lists on products

A related point:

We had almost 7,000 visits to the market page of the website in June, and have over 400 weekly subscribers to the market news, so there is clearly great interest in regular info. about what's happening and what's available. If you are not on the subscribers' list and would like to be, send me an email: The news is always posted on the website as well.

We hope the survey results are interesting for you, and welcome your comments, of course. It was a real pleasure to read about how much the market matters to people, and it's because of all of you, so THANKS!


From the September 2006 Newsletter

posted September 6, 2006


Sunday, October 1st, 2006 from 1 to 4 p.m.

From market manager Anne Freeman: The Dufferin Grove market’s annual Tasting Fair returns on Sunday, October 1st, 2006 from 1 to 4 p.m. Join us for a wonderful afternoon of sampling seasonal delights made by chefs, market farmers and vendors, and local enthusiastic cooks.

2005 Tasting fair

Try as many tastes as you like at $2 each. There's room for more cooks on our list, so if you would like to help support the market and show off your culinary talents, we'd love to hear from you! Send me an email at and we'll provide all the details. See photo gallery.

2005 Tasting fair

posted August 2, 2006, revised August 11, 2006


The farmers’ market is a tough place to shop if you’re in a hurry – people are so friendly and there are so many interesting conversations that it’s hard to get out of there.

One of the conversations lately has been about a “Harvest Ontario” booklet ( listing all Ontario farmers’ markets. Bob Chorney, the executive director of Farmers’ Markets Ontario (, offered copies of this booklet to market manager Anne Freeman for distribution at the market, and she showed it to quite a few market users. But they didn’t like it very much. The booklet has a colourful centrefold directed at "Mom," telling her to just relax about pesticides. There are lots of pictures to illustrate the point, for example an eggplant in a bubble bath, with the claim that pesticides are a lovely “spa for vegetables.”

The centrefold ad comes from "CropLife Canada," ( the "trade association representing manufacturers, developers and distributors of pest control products and plant biotechnology." Ouch! There are lots of pressures on organic farming, including initiatives like this ad booklet. We won’t be contributing by handing it out.

Since Farmers’ Markets Ontario has just been funded by the Greenbelt Foundation ( - an arms-length corporation endowed by the Ontario Government) [ see the Greenbelt Plan Area (map) ] to "keep rural life in south central Ontario strong and productive," it seems that their influence in promoting such a booklet is not unimportant. However it’s also important to get the facts right, and your newsletter editor didn’t do enough checking before calling attention to this booklet in the first printing of this newsletter. That made Farmers’ Markets Ontario’s Bob Chorney very unhappy. Hopefully there are no errors in this story now.

Bob Chorney says he has now passed on our concerns to “Bright Light Communications” (, publisher of the booklet. That’s good. Farmers Markets Ontario and the Greenbelt Foundation have a very big task ahead, and we wish them the best in their efforts. For more information, a link to the Greenbelt web site, and a map of the “Greenbelt,” see the market page of the park web site.

Market handbag design

posted July 20, 2006

Market Handbag Available

From the July 20 Weekly Market Notes:

You might not associate Dufferin Grove with high fashion, but starting tomorrow [ed - today's market] all the best-dressed groceries will be wearing one of our freshly hand-printed, organic hemp and cotton market bags! They are $10 each, and the supply is limited, with all proceeds going to help with market expenses. Special thanks to Jane Low-Beer, Richard Peachey, and Karen Krupa for their design and technical contributions, and also to Matt, Claire, and Jenny.

posted June 8, 2006

Dufferin Grove Farmers' Market

Every Thursday 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

All the farmers have now returned to the market for the season and every week brings new requests by other vendors to join. Market manager Anne Freeman reported at a recent market vendors meeting that she gets about 30 new requests a month. Anne recently went to a North American farmers’ market conference in Los Angeles, where the question of “the right mix of vendors” was much discussed. Markets like ours, that seek to support local family farms, are a delicate balance of friendly competition and protection. Anne is involved in helping to spread the wealth – working with other neighborhoods (South Etobicoke, Withrow Park) which want to start a farmers’ market.

Meantime, the Dufferin Grove market is raising the table fees slightly to cover the staffing costs for set-up and clean-up. The idea is for the vendors to cover the whole market cost without any outside subsidy. That works well. But the vendors give us more than a place to shop for good food. As a social space, the market is unsurpassed. And people are gradually getting better at remembering their vegetables after ten minutes of chat with long-lost friends whom they ran into at the market. It’s an art, buying food like that.

From the June 2006 Newsletter

posted March 30, 2006

Market Wins Green Toronto Award of Excellence

The market has been chosen to receive a Green Toronto Award of Excellence in the Health Category. Read More >>

To learn more about these awards go to and to see the other recipients, go to the Green Toronto Awards winners page.

posted April 8, 2006

When Dufferin Grove Farmers' Market representatives were asked to go to City Hall for award photos, they became "movie extras" in a video advertising Green Toronto. Read more>>

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