OFA: Farmers’ markets are always in season

Special to WC Online

ONTARIO – As we approach the warm spring season, thoughts on Ontario farms are turning towards planting the new season’s crops.

Even through the cold months of winter and the cool, wet spring days that are common in Ontario, there are plenty of delicious local food options to be found at farmers’ markets across the province. And for some of Ontario’s farmers, harvest isn’t too far off with asparagus leading the way followed by strawberries, rhubarb and peas as some of our earliest spring crops.

“While farmers’ markets are a great place to get your local fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season, you can also enjoy the wide spectrum of what is grown and raised on Ontario farms all year long,” Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) President and farmer Drew Spoelstra said.

Through its Home Grown campaign, the OFA raises awareness of the importance of preserving Ontario farmland to produce food, fuel, flowers and fibre.

“Our farmland is a precious, essential resource and the best way for Ontarians to help protect it is to buy the food, fuel, fibre and flowers that we produce there — farmers’ markets are a spot to do that year-round,” Spoelstra said.

An innovative new partnership between OFA and Farmers’ Markets Ontario will be supporting marketing projects to promote Ontario farmers at farmers’ markets across the province – making it easier than ever for Ontario consumers to shop local all year long.

Greenhouse fruits and vegetables are always in season and can often be found at farmers’ markets, but other Ontario products you can find at farmers’ markets year-round include:

  • Honey — Ontario beekeepers — and the bees they tend — produce some of the best honey in the world. Look for the 100% Ontario Honey logo or Foodland Ontario designation to ensure you are getting local honey. Find local honey near you at ontariobee.com.
  • Apples — Harvested from late summer through fall, Ontario apples keep very well in cold storage to be enjoyed throughout the year. Ciders and juices are also farmers’ market staples. Learn more at onapples.com.
  • Potatoes and root vegetables — Ontario potatoes are plentiful and locally grown root vegetables like carrots, onions, squash and parsnip are widely available.
  • Meats — Whether processed or fresh, many farmers’ markets have Ontario meats and poultry available year-round. More information is at meatpoultryon.ca.
  • Eggs — With more than 500 egg farmers across Ontario, farm fresh eggs can be found at most farmers’ markets. Learn more at getcracking.ca.
  • Maple syrup — the sap is running in Ontario so head to a local market to enjoy the season’s first maple syrup products. Discover this natural, healthy sweetener at ontariomaple.com.
  • Preserves — Pickles, jarred fruits, jams, jellies and spreads made from Ontario fruits and vegetables are not only available year round, but they are also quite simply delicious.
  • Flowers — There are an estimated 200 greenhouses in Ontario growing cut flowers and potted plants that bring colour and joy to homes and workplaces. Visit Pick Ontario for more information on what is available in Ontario.
A photo of a baker from the Carp Farmers' Easter Market.
Leah the Baker was definitely in the spirit of things at the 2022 Carp Farmers’ Easter Market. Photo by Jake Davies

For West Carleton residents, the Carp Farmers’ Market will be holding its Easter Market on Saturday, March 30.

“The Village of Carp will be hopping this Easter at the Carp Farmers’ Market Easter Market,” market staff released in a statement March 17. “Join our local vendors for our annual Easter Market taking place Saturday, March 30th from 8am to 2pm at the Carp Fairgrounds. This will be your first chance to shop from our local Carp Farmers’ Market vendors before our season begins Saturday, May 4.”

Market staff say there will be more than 50 local vendors at the Easter Market with free parking and free admission.

Market volunteers will be collecting food for the West Carleton Food Access Centre (WCFAC) in honour of the market’s late manager Ennio Marcantonio who passed away on October of 2022.

The market will also be hosting its Kids’ Club Colouring Contest and you can download the entry picture here. All entries must be submitted at the market’s information booth during market hours.

Live music from Zachary Martin will also be performed during the market.

The Carp Fairgrounds are located at 3790 Carp Rd.

The OFA is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province and serving as the leading advocate and strongest voice of Ontario farmers. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA represents and champions the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more.

Home Grown is a public awareness initiative of the OFA to advocate for Ontario farmland as an essential source of food, fuel, fibre and flowers. Productive farmland is our most important natural resource, but Ontario is losing an average of 319 acres of farmland every day or the equivalent of nine family farms every week to development and urban encroachment. Home Grown raises awareness about the importance of protecting and preserving Ontario farmland, while supporting responsible development and growth for housing and the provincial economy.

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