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Your official Apt613 guide to Ottawa’s farmers’ markets

By Trevor Pritchard on June 8, 2013

Weekend mornings in Ottawa are meant for two things: sleeping off hangovers and — now that summer finally seems to be here — browsing for heirloom tomatoes and fresh flowers at one of our dozen-plus farmers’ markets.

And so, we’ve put together this map for all you hungry, hungry locavores out there. (If only those cows let out a bellowing moo when you clicked on them. Get on that, Google!) We’ve also profiled a few markets that we’ve frequented over the years, along with one shiny new addition to the city’s market scene.

Do you have a favourite market? Stories of friendships you’ve forged with local farmers? Tales of eggplants the size of small infants? Drop us a line in the comments, Ottawa. And happy eating!



Main Farmers’ Market

Saint Paul University, 233 Main Street
Saturdays, 9am until 2pm
May 4 until October 26

Is it possible for a trip to the farmers’ market to be a religious experience? If you’re visiting the intimate Main Farmers’ Market — held in the parking lot of Saint Paul University — it just might be. Other markets prioritize fruits and veggies; at Main, it’s (almost) all about Ottawa’s many local artisans. Grab a bag of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from Happy Goat Coffee, or a hock of bison sausage from Bearbrook Game Meats. And with a new pedestrian bridge set to span the Rideau Canal — drawing Glebeites and their fancy foodie proclivities — the Main Farmers’ Market is one Ottawa market we’re expecting to take off, big time. Can I get a hallelujah? –Trevor Pritchard



Le Marché Vieux Hull

Rue Laval between Wellington and Wright
Thursdays, 10am until 3pm
May 23 to October 3

Cube life getting you down across the river in Gatineau? If you work in either of the monolithic office complexes that empty onto Promenade du Portage, drop by Rue Laval on Thursdays for Le Marché Vieux Hull. The road’s blocked off to cars, allowing artisans to set up stalls on either side. Vendors sell everything from locally-sourced produce to handmade ethnic desserts, preserves, apple cider (including the hard stuff!) and artisan bread. Sometimes there are crafters selling paintings and woodwork, too. The market’s presence means neighbouring restaurants open up their patios, happily welcoming shoppers to sit down for lunch — and any visit should include tucking into a sandwich creation at nearby Zest for Food. –Don Chow



Ottawa Farmers’ Market

Brewer Park
Sundays, 8am until 3pm
May 5 to November 17

Ever been to Union Square Greenmarket in NYC? With its sundrenched paths and awning-covered stalls, its bountiful displays and smiling farmers, it’s a must visit for New Yorkers — but don’t get jealous, Ottawans. The Ottawa Farmers’ Market, located at Brewer Park across from Carleton University, has the same look and feel as Union Square’s. There’s the same breadth and variety of farm-to-fork vendors selling everything from locally-grown produce to artisan bread, wild game, craft jam, eggs and cheese. Our market does have one distinguishing characteristic, however: a gastro-alley that features some of the best wood-fired pizza in the capital. –Don Chow



Parkdale Market

Parkdale Avenue between Wellington and Armstrong
Daily, 7am until 6pm
May to October

The Parkdale market isn’t one of your johnny-come-lately, ride-the-hipster-foodie-wave type of farmers’ markets. Established in 1924 when steak sold at 20 cents a pound, it’s instead a neighbourhood institution — literally your grandma’s market. Featuring 29 vendor stalls and a fieldhouse, the Parkdale Market offers up plants and flowers in the spring, fruits and vegetables in the summer and those funny warty squashes in the fall. And while the outdoor part’s closed in the winter, the fieldhouse is open all year. I have no definitive proof, but I’m betting the prices are the best in town — I once got two cauliflowers the size of a Yorkshire pup for a dollar. More exotic: the red deer steak from Trillium Farms, perhaps topped with some Upper Canada Cranberry Chutney. If you like your farmer’s markets to stick with seasonal fresh food in a low key atmosphere, then Parkdale’s the one for you. –Katie Marsh



Sparks Street Farmers’ Market

Sparks Street, between O’Connor and Metcalfe
Thursdays and Fridays, 10am until 5pm; Saturdays, 9am until 2pm (Saturday hours optional, no market June 20-22 and August 1-3)
May 30 to sometime this fall

Finally, something on Sparks for govvies to get excited about! Don’t let its diminutive size discourage you; this fantastic little market is just getting started. The Sparks Street Farmer’s Market kicked things off May 30th with a handful of great vendors selling everything from local herbs and veggies to savoury crêpes made while-you-wait. Additional vendors are expected to join the ranks shortly — and that should provide a welcome injection of life onto this underutilized strip. This is definitely what the downtown core needed: a little less cubicle farm, a little more farm fresh. –Yasmin Nissim



Vanier Farmers’ Market

Location TBD
Saturdays, 9am until 1pm
July 13 to October 5

They may not have nailed down a location, but the Vanier Farmers’ Market — held last year at the corner of Montreal Road and Hannah Street — is vowing to be back this July. Editor’s note: Apartment613 has learned that the Vanier Farmers’ Market has been cancelled for 2013. In an email to confirmed vendors, a representative of the Quartier Vanier Merchants Association cited a lack of vendor registrations. This is sad news for Vanier. Here’s hoping for a relaunch in 2014. For the past five years, Vanier residents have had the benefit of their own little Saturday market, packed with much of the same high quality local produce and artisanal baked goods you might find in some of the larger markets. And while it may not be a destination for people from other areas, there are definite perks to that — not the least of which is its distinctive neighbourhood feel. Each year, the Vanier BIA caps the growing season off with a tourtière competition, and neighbourhood chefs give cooking demonstrations through the summer. I always leave with a full stomach, an empty wallet, and everything I need for a fantastic dinner. –Chris Cline

Photo credits, from top to bottom: Trevor Pritchard, Don Chow, Flickr user Michael Ignatieff, Flickr user dugspr, Yasmin Nissim, and the Vanier BIA