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Foodie Friday: Ottawa’s “Little Market That Could” re-opens tomorrow on Preston

By Pam Kapoor on June 14, 2013


In the heart of Little Italy, a quaint market will once again come to life every Saturday from tomorrow until Thanksgiving.

The “Little Market That Could” – so dubbed for its community-powered tenacity – is back for another season of one-stop shopping for quality local goods. Its grand re-opening takes place during the final weekend of the area’s 39th annual Settimana Italiana (Italian Week).

A foodie destination to be sure, Preston Farmers’ Market (PFM) appeals equally to locavores, collectors, the curious, and the peckish.

PFM serves residents of Little Italy, Centretown, Kitchissippi East, Chinatown, and anyone who prefers a cozy, central market over some of the larger options out there.

Kelly Butler of Helios Farm. Photo courtesy of Helios Farm.

Kelly Butler of Helios Farm. Photo courtesy of Helios Farm.

No longer the new kid on the O-Town farmers’ market block (Sparks Street just launched one), PFM has lined up another eclectic array of purveyors. Market-goers will be able to take home everything from local organic produce (Foster Family Farm, The Veggie Underground, Helios Farm) to sweet treats (Muffin King Plus, Crepe Joy, Bez Gluten Free), farm-fresh eggs (Beking’s Poultry Farm) to specialty sauces (Meow! That’s Hot). Purple Urchin returns with its creative handmade soaps while artisans new to PFM include Funk Your Junk, Calvin Diepenveen of Tombolo Concrete Furniture, and Read This Custom Visual Art.

When I pointed out the strange range of products on tap at PFM, co-manager Kelly Butler chuckled: “People are always intrigued by the diversity of goods we have for a market this young!”

“Where else can you find a rainbow of produce, dog treats, and a shamanic healer in the same spot?” (referring to growers, Gunner’s Kitchen, and Kathleen Leeson)

Butler is proud that PFM is a place where emerging local entrepreneurs – such as Top Shelf Preserves, Magasa Jewelery, and Crepe Joy – want to showcase their wares in an intimate setting.

Other confirmed participants include Hen Wo Taco, Hodge’s Meat, and Face to Grace organic skin care. Like last year, organizers expect to field vendor applications well into the summer.

PFM's famed farmer's breakfast courtesy of the Preston Farmers' Market.

PFM’s famed farmer’s breakfast courtesy of the Preston Farmers’ Market.

Back by popular demand will be PFM’s famed farmer’s breakfast. The “buy a plate & circulate” format has been a huge hit, with some fans calling it Ottawa’s best hangover breakfast. And local musicians are again providing the market’s live soundtrack. Those two features alone compelled many visitors to lounge, linger, and commune. I believe that’s part of this market’s charm – its size allows for a slower tempo, good conversation, and the fostering of relationships.

“We all believe strongly in building sustainable connections between producers and consumers,” says Chris Penton, PFM co-manager. “The market is small enough that we can really get to know each other.”

Through the spirit of supporters, the PFM continues to grow with its community.

“Since we’re not tethered to a particular organization, we rely solely on good will to make this thing run,” Penton says. “With the Filoso family sacrificing their Saturday parking dollars, volunteers helping in so many ways, and our patrons remaining loyal, we couldn’t be happier with our results.”

“It’s really all about community.”

A theme day each month will feature special guests, information, and fun family activities. Already in the works are a ‘Green Day’ and a lively ‘Giorno di Vino’ in conjunction with Little Italy’s La Vendemmia celebration.

What: Preston Farmers’ Market

When: Saturdays from 9am – 2pm until October 12th

Where: Il Postino parking lot (corner of Preston/Louisa)


PFM on Facebook:

PFM on Twitter: @PrestonMarketO