Downtown Hamilton’s Farmers’ Market

Two days ago I visited the city-run Farmers’ Market in Jackson’s Square. The market was created in 1837 and you can find it on York Street just west of James where is has been located since 1980. You can also access the market through the mall in Jackson’s Square. It has been several years since my last visit, before major renovations to the building.This was done in tandem with a make-over for the adjacent Central Library.

View from the market’s second floor – that is the Central Library on the upper left.

My good intentions to visit the market always run into a shortage of time. Yes, I have to shop for food each week but visiting both the market and the grocery store was until now a goal not met.

Maybe it is my rural roots but I am very irked by the lack of Ontario food in my grocery stores.  Fortino’s and Metro – yes, I mean you. The stores are increasingly filling their produce sections with food from the United States and Mexico to the point that often the things I want to buy – squash, garlic, potatoes, pears, broccoli – are all foreign.

Why is that?

Ontario has some of the best farming land in the country and even in winter, our hot-house produce used to be plentiful in stores. Yes, they were more pricey but I’m willing to pay. But now even the tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and peppers have been replaced by Mexican hot-house produce – argh!

That turned out to be my last straw so off to both the market and grocery store I went this week. As I wandered the market stalls I was happy to see all the produce identified by origin but disappointed to see not many labels said Ontario. And then I met this lovely woman with extremely local food – thanks to a re-drawing of municipal boundaries awhile back, her farm in Waterdown is part of Hamilton.

Her Ida Red apples are as crisp as in October so obviously they are being stored properly. She also had asparagus – early but then this spring has been ahead of the game botanically.

A new stall was selling freshly made spinach pasta (delicious) and another vendor had leeks labelled as ‘Canada’ – hmm, not ideal but I scooped them anyway for soup tonight.

I am looking forward to my weekly jaunts downtown especially since the growing season is approaching and my Waterdown farmer had a long list of upcoming goodies. Yum.

This is the lower level aisle closest to the street where the Waterdown farmer can be found at the first corner stall from the York Street entrance.

The Clock of the Charging Horsemen was originally at the Birks Store at King and James. It features several jousters who charge around the clock at intervals each hour, forever to miss each other but entertaining just the same. The fifteen foot high piece also plays several tunes and was completely restored during the recent market renovations.

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