One of the advantages of things re-opening is the ability to re-connect with our community. Farmers' markets connect us with each other, the season, and nature. It satisfies so many of our senses: the beautiful colours of carrots, greens, and other vegetables, the sound of conversations, laughter and sometimes live music, the smell of freshly cut flowers, the taste of freshly picked fruit, and the feeling of your cloth bags getting heavier on your shoulders as you snap up items from various tables.
Buying directly from local farmers supports the region by putting money back into the area. You may also find that you develop relationships with the people who grow your food and who you see each week at the market. You get to know each other by name and come to learn the seasonal growing cycles of your favourite foods.
The farmers' market experience is not only community-building, you also end up with tastier meals. Any chef will tell you, for an amazing dish, you need fresh ingredients. Aside from growing your own, you can't get much fresher than produce picked that morning from your local farm. Compare the flavour of a farm-fresh strawberry to one shipped across the border. Or a fresh, sun-warm heirloom tomato to the cold, refrigerated ones in a grocery store: the difference is night and day.
These days, many farmers' markets are supplemented with vendors other than farmers who grow produce. Often, there are local handmade items and merchants selling honey, candles, and baked goods. Real, true sourdough bread in Niagara is available (e.g. de la Terre bakery) and floral farmers and vineyards also join in. At the St. Catharines downtown market, there are butchers and food stalls and an outdoor stage for bands to play live.
As we each transition through and out of the pandemic experience, many of us want to find healthy ways to re-connect with our community and support one another. Buying from farmers' markets directly impacts the livelihood of local families, which gets reinvested in our community. It helps our children understand where food comes from, and improves our quality of life.
We wish you and your families much summer fun and we won't be surprised if we see you soon at one of Niagara's markets! (Click here for a list of farmers' markets in the region.)