One of the most popular farmers' markets in Toronto, Dufferin Grove, was opened in November 2002. It started as a collaboration between three local organic farmers, community members and City of Toronto staff in the Dufferin Grove Park.
Having a farmers' market in a park is actually a great idea, it attracts people and it's a great way to meet the neighbours and talk about what's new in the neighbourhood. The integration of the market with the park is what makes it unique. While shopping for organic Ontario groceries, you're also surrounded by gardens, children's playgrounds, the basketball court and the skating rink. Talk about family fun for everyone!
It's a great spot for family weekend trips and people who visit Dufferin Grove become its loyal customers, coming back week after week, like Danyelle B.:
I've been going to the Dufferin Grove Market for years now. I love the fresh veggies and assortment of food stalls. The baked goods are excellent. Most of all, it's a great place to meet and catch up with neighbours. Dog friendly , for the most part, if your dog behaves. Kid friendly, no matter how they behave.
The community is what's important at Dufferin Grove Farmers' market. Customers get to know the vendors and they look forward or even plan to buy from them next time they visit the market. It's great when you can discuss the produce you're buying with the person who has grown it and knows everything about it. In his review on Yelp, Jordy G. recommends Dufferin Grove to anyone looking to eat local or organic:
I was at the Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers Market today and the place was just buzzing. There were so many people and kids and the farmer were selling just about anything you could want from greens to honey to beef. Eating local and organic, where possible, is important to me. The best part for us is seeing our favourite organic farmer who is a friend of the family's and comes in every week to hook us up with all kinds of great veg.
Aside from buying groceries to cook delicious meals at home, you can buy ready-to-go meals at the market. Or pick up a quick tasty lunch.
What to look for at the Dufferin Grove's Farmers Market?
Here you will find great quality of olive oil, greek yogurt, goat/sheep cheese, olives, honey, breads and preserves. In the summer you can look forward to lots of vegan dining options, as well as Ethiopian food, wraps, fresh bread, pizza and focaccia all year around.
During peak season there are well over 30 vendors at the scene, offering a great selection of local produce, meats, dairy and other farm products. There is of course less selection in the winter, so now is the right time to visit. You can look forward to fresh strawberries, kale, arugula, salad mix, green onions, bok choi, radish, salad turnips, fresh herbs and more this summer season.
The market is open every Thursday from 3-7 pm, all year round, and the admission is free.
875 Dufferin, South of Bloor, across from the Dufferin Mall.
How to get there:
The farmers' market is in the northwest corner of the park, just off of Dufferin. The closest subways top is Dufferin station - one block north. The bus, both northbound and southbond stops every three minutes right next to the park.
Don't park illegally on Dufferin Park Ave, the little street leading into the park, because you will definitely get a ticket. There is parking on Thursdays for market hours across from St. Mary's High School on the north side of the park. Parking is also available in front of Dufferin Mall.
Some vendors accept credit or debit cars, but mostly you will have to pay with cash.
Forbes Wild Food
Forbes Wild Food sells wild, hand-picked foods, harvested from the Canadian wilderness. At their stand at the Dufferin Grove Market, Seth Goering offers wild leeks, mushrooms, nuts, Ontario pawpaws, wild rice, maple sugar, jams, chestnut flour and more, depending on the season.
Spade and Spoon
Spade and Spoon sell varieties of chutneys, pickles, jams and other preserves made from vegetables and fruits grown on their farm. The farm is owned an operated by Blythe Weber and Adam Smith. It has been in Blythe's family for generation and it is located outside Ayton,Ontario. They pride themselves in not using any pesticides in their vegetable growing process, making them "beyond organic". In addition to Dufferin Grove, you can find them at the Sorauren Park, Motngomery's Inn and Stonegate Farmers' markets as well.
Jamie Kennedy - a well known Canadian chef, a pioneer in the local food movement in Toronto, owner of the recently closed Gilead Cafe & Wine Bar, is also famous for his fries. J.K. Fries have been a staple at the Brick Works Farmers market and are now available at the Dufferin Grove Market as well. Here's a recipe if you're interested in making the fries yourself, but you should really treat yourself to the real deal at the market. They're delicious!
JK Fries make fresh-cut french fries with a choice of mayos.
Bees' Universe, founded, owned and managed by Irina and Ion (John Alecu) sells a wide variety of natural bee products such as: honey, honey comb, bee pollen, propolis, fresh frozen royal jelly and beeswax candles. They have a farm near Innsfil, where they keep their bees, but they also have an on-farm egg grading station, so they all sell eggs!
Toronto boasts with great farmers markets, but Dufferin Grove is special. If you want to feel like a part of a community, picking the best produce straight from the hands of the person who grew them, surrounded by families, friends, yogis and street performers, this is the farmers's market you should be visiting.