With the temperature on the rise and flora in bloom, Ottawans are eager to get out of the house and re-engage with their community. But with COVID-19 a lingering threat and source of concern, this summer is sure to be different from most. Around this time of year, I’d probably be sitting with friends or family at a restaurant or beer hall patio, with a refreshing drink in hand. My summer 2019 calendar was packed with a myriad of festivals and markets, often hosted outdoors. With this new reality, however, I am rethinking how to enjoy the weather while ensuring my safety and that of others. Although I certainly miss the lively and welcoming vibe of community-based activities, I’m finding pleasure in simple pastimes, like reading outside.
Even during such unique times, there are ways to enjoy some of the things we all love about Ottawa in the spring and summer. The Ottawa Markets (ByWard and Parkdale), for instance, have recently set up shop online. This virtual market still evokes some the characteristics of the in-person, outdoor marketplaces we all delight in, such as purchasing products one vendor at a time.
Keen to support local vendors, I decided to check out the Ottawa Markets website. Both pickup and delivery options are available for customers. For those interested in the pickup option, the markets have designated dates and time frames. The Parkdale Market has set aside Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:45am to 2:15pm, while the ByWard Market will be open for pickup on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm. When you check out, be sure to select your preferred date and location. Note, however, that some products may only be available at a particular location (e.g., at Parkdale but not ByWard). Also keep in mind that vendors typically need a few days’ notice. For those interested in the delivery option, you will find that most vendors only allow for in-person pickups.
I began my journey within the Products tab of the virtual market. It lets you filter search results by searching for particular products, adjusting the number of products per page, and selecting a particular vendor of interest. I could either browse through filtered results or all available products. As I scrolled, if a product interested me, I simply selected the number (under Order Qty) to add one or more to my cart.
All participating vendors are listed under the Suppliers tab. You’ll find a brief summary of each vendor, their contact information, and the types of products they offer. There are currently a dozen vendors taking part in the virtual market:
- Rochon Garden has hanging flower baskets and fresh spring vegetables. For flower bouquets, see the Flower Fundraiser for the Fallen; proceeds will go to the families of the six Canadian Armed Forces members involved in a tragic helicopter incident in late April.
- If you’re interested in hot or cold beverages, check out Cloud Forest Coffee, Les Vergers Villeneuve and Blueberry Farm, and Loon Kombucha.
- For grain-based products, Against the Grain Farms (flour, mixes, nachos), Nat’s Bread Company (breads and pretzels), and Worke’s Kitchen (loaves/breads) are worth exploring.
- Other delicious foods and condiments available include Chef Bill Presents (marmalades and jams), Ottawa Garlic Company, Produits Petit Brûlé (smoked fish), and SnackOShack (prepared foods).
After browsing the list, I registered for a ByWard and Parkdale Markets online account and added a couple items to my cart. I noticed that the virtual check-out was inspired by outdoor markets: you purchase products per vendor and not all at once. Closer to my selected pickup date of June 6, I’ll receive an email with a specific timeslot.
Fellow Ottawans, we can still shop local this spring and summer! The ByWard and Parkdale Markets pickup option also allows for customers to get a bit of fresh air and sunshine, while still taking the necessary precautions. There are ways to still enjoy Ottawa this season; we just need to keep an open mind and find pleasure in all (even if modified) that is still available to us.
Plus, stay tuned for the launch of Lansdowne Farmers’ Market Click and Collect. More details can be found here. The first round of pickups is set for this Sunday, May 31!