by Kathryn Hunt
Since the middle of June, the new Preston Farmers’ Market has been providing residents of Little Italy and surrounding neighbourhoods with access to a diverse range of goods and goodies in the parking lot of Il Postino, at the corner of Preston and Louisa Streets.
The Preston Farmers’ Market comes to life every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with fresh produce and meats, hand-roasted coffee, sweet treats, handicrafts, woodwork, jewellery, and more, courtesy of local farmers, producers, and artisans.
Patrons can browse through the stands, do their weekly groceries, and check out the market’s “draws,” which include sweets from Suzy Q Doughnuts, soaps etc. from Purple Urchin, and fresh eggs from Beking Eggs.
The market is a true community effort. Early this year, the Preston Street BIA decided to cancel its own farmers’ market, and switch to hosting a more crafts-oriented market, Il Mercato, which sells items such as handcrafts, antiques, and furniture.
On hearing that produce and food would not be a part of the new venture, the vendors were disappointed but by no means discouraged.
They banded together to form their own market, so there would still be a place for vendors to sell local, fresh vegetables and fruits.
It’s “purveyor-powered,” run by volunteers from among the vendors and community.
Food blog FoodiePrints notes that “while Preston Street is home to brick and mortar ethnic stores and venerable Luciano’s for meats, cheeses, and specialty Italian products, there hasn’t been a grocery store in the neighbourhood since the Loeb on Booth Street closed in 2006. The farmers’ market fills a much-needed niche when it comes to locally-grown produce.”
Live musicians play at the markets (on July 14 it was the young rock band Full Tipped Sleeve) and patrons are encouraged to “buy a plate and circulate” at the Farmers’ Breakfast. The Town Fryer food truck is also on site.
Creating sustainable connections between producers and consumers is a big part of the market’s ethic, as is skill sharing. A booth is home to weekly workshops and lessons provided by volunteers on anything and everything, from bike tune-ups to wine making to Ayurvedic facials.
“We are particularly proud of the community spirit that brought this market back to life, that drives everything about it, and inspires the “Community Matters” booth that each Saturday features a skills-share presentation,” said Pam Kapoor, the market’s media volunteer.
The market will run each Saturday until Thanksgiving. Anyone interested in becoming a vendor or learning more is encouraged to get in touch, at firstname.lastname@example.org.