Spring has been exceptionally slow coming around these parts this year; we had a snowstorm last Friday, and the forecast is for more snow this coming Friday. Daytime temperatures have been just above freezing, while at night it has been dipping just below zero, so our snowbanks aren’t melting back very quickly. And it’s only a few days until the beginning of April!
Despite the weather, it’s technically spring, and spring to me means the start of the farmers’ market season. Technically it’s a little early for that; we’re not getting fresh produce for a little while yet, unless it’s from greenhouses. And yet I find myself thinking about all the great markets I’ve been to, and yearning for a chance to visit them again.
One of my favourite markets to visit while on vacation is the Moncton Market in Moncton, New Brunswick. We seem to end up there on at least one weekend every time we visit the city. It’s not specifically a farmers’ market, although it does have a large selection of fresh local produce (when in season), as well as deli and butcher booths. There is also a food court and a huge number of handicrafts for sale.
The Moncton Market runs all year long, and actually is set up in its own proprietary building that was built in 1995 (although this market has existed, in one form or another, since the late 1800’s). Saturday is market day, but the food court is open all week long for lunch. Due to its downtown location and proximity to office buildings, particularly government offices, there is a brisk lunch business.
In addition to the main hall, there is a second, later-built hall (Festival Place) and a bay area, all of which are packed with vendors and customers on market day. Festival Place is sometimes rented out for other events on non-market days. There is also a culinary center on the premises, although I’ve never seen it in use. Every time I’ve been there, it has been used as a seating area for the food court.
There is often live entertainment throughout the market. There may be a single busker in the main hall, a duo in the secondary hall, and an entire ensemble on the stage outside — so there’s always entertainment. Thing 2 could happily spend her entire trip to the market sucking on a maple lollipop while she watches the performers. Thing 1, on the other hand, would rather hunt down a gourmet cupcake seller. Me, I’m on the lookout for fresh, local food to bring home for dinner.
Of course, part of the fun is to pick up some breakfast or lunch at the market while you are there. I am partial to the fresh-cooked crepes and waffles; the lineup is always long, but the food is cooked fresh to order, and the delicious portions are substantial.
Around here, the winter (indoor) version of the Lansdowne Park Ottawa Farmers’ Market runs on Sundays from January 8th to April 30, from 10:00am to 3:00pm, in the Aberdeen Pavilion. There’s nothing specifically stated on their website, but the outdoor summer market usually starts sometime in May. The Cumberland Farmers’ Market has their Spring Market on Saturday April 8th from 9:00am to 3:00, but their main season doesn’t start until mid-June.
I can’t wait for summer market season to start again. Come on, Ottawa… Thaw!