Happy Earth Day weekend everyone! Whether you’re spending the weekend gardening, spring cleaning, tree planting, or farmers’ marketing, I hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend! I’ve been looking forward to Evergreen Brick Works’ special Earth Day farmers’ market and vegan food fair for the past month and even with the threat of impending icky weather (cold wind and rain? Oh, joy), I wasn’t deterred in the least. I love markets and food fairs too much to miss out on them because of not-nice weather and I’m so happy I decided to stick to my plan of going because coming back to the Brick Works made me realize how much I missed it. I hadn’t been back since Thankgiving last October and I was really disappointed when I didn’t get around to making another trip during the Christmas holidays, so a spring market trip was definitely in order!
Today’s Earth Day festivities was comprised of three fun things: the Evergreen Brick Works gourmet food and merchant marketplace, the Saturday farmers’ market, and the vegan food fair. The Brick Works’ marketplace is one of my favourite parts of this eco community because there are always new, seasonal goodies and items to see and purchase. Grainy mustards, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, preserves, jarred and canned foods (check out the pretty jars of apple jelly up top!), kitchen accessories, gifts, food books, and so much more. The philsophy and mandate behind Evergreen Brick Works is food sustainability and accessibility, eco awareness, and supporting local farmers, food producers, and businesses while providing avenues for learning, growing, and being inspired.
I love ogling the selection of books at the marketplace, especially the ones about the farm-to-table philosphy and ones championing fresh farm ingredients (a book about farm-to-table breakfasts in Prince Edward County by Elizabeth Pulkner?! OH.MY.GOD) and I guess this is because it’s a topic I honestly haven’t grown up being surrounded by and learning about. It fascinates me and it makes me want to learn more. I may never be a locavore and I think I’ll always be a city girl at heart as opposed to a country girl, but there’s certainly nothing stopping me from educating myself about the good food sector and broadening my breadth of knowledge and food options.
As much as I wanted to pick up a cupcake apron, every single book, and a jar of apple jelly and mustard though, I settled for some kettle chips by Covered Bridge to take home for my mum. Sweet potato with cinnamon and brown sugar? Yes, please. The books, condiments, and cute baking outfit would have to wait for another day because I still had a farmers’ market and vegan food fair to entertain! While I was excited to see what the Saturday market had in store for me, I was especially excited about the vegan food fair. I couldn’t wait to see who would be there and what goodies I could pick up.
And it’s here that I’ll preface the following by saying that the vegan food fair wasn’t, well…exactly what I had in mind. Partly because I was hoping for a bigger fair (there were about 6 vendors with prepared food ranging from juice to chocolate to soups to crepes) and partly because it wasn’t entirely vegan. In attendance were Cruda Cafe (a vegetarian and vegan eatery located in the St. Lawrence Market), ChocoSol, Augie’s Gourmet Ice Pops and Soups (she’s often at the Toronto Office Markets and Sorauren farmers’ market), and Clément’s Crépes (who you can find at the Dufferin Grove market on Thursdays from 3pm-7pm!) among others.
I thought many of the food options were great for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, but unfortunately, not everything was entirely vegan. Even though I know this point may not matter to some people (“well, at least it’s vegetarian…”), I know it matters to many others, especially when the food fair was clearly advertised as being a VEGAN food fair. I know the principle matters (going to a vegan food fair and knowing there are no animal products at the event), so that’s the place I’m writing from and it’s just unfortunate that it ended up being a slight flop for me.
I did enjoy the farmers’ market though and it was my first visit to their indoor one so it was a fun experience. There was amazing live music (I actually thought the music was filtering through a radio!) and there were so many happy, excited little ones at the market with their families, dancing to the music. It was impossible not to feed off of the energy of everyone milling about in the venue buying bread, sampling cheese, eating fresh cut herb fries with aioli, carrying around fresh waffles with whipped cream and chocolate sauce…should I go on? It felt like a market mixed in with the carnival and I had the pleasure of trying some hot and fresh (right out of the vat!) apple beignets tossed in cinnamon sugar!
Despite the reservations I had with the food fair not being entirely vegan, I really enjoyed my time at the Brick Works and I love what the space represents in the grand scheme of things: grow it, learn it, make it, eat it. There’s an organic fludity that flows throughout the community, bringing together how we grow and cultivate our food, how we use the Earth’s riches to create beautiful works of art (both culinary and otherwise), how the emphasis is on preserving, sustaining, and respecting the environment as best as we can while going about these culinary endeavours, and learning to appreciate the diversity and richness of food from our Earth.
The eco site is like a unified collection of thoughts and processes: learning how to grow food with the least amount of damage to the Earth from their gardens, learning how to cook it via their seminars and classes, how to taste and savour it from their markets, events, and cafe, and finally, finding ways to give back and help the communities that don’t have access to these food luxuries by way of community building, fundraising, and educating. There’s so much more to explore and I am happy that this space is here for us to enjoy. Happy Earth Day weekend, everyone.
Evergreen Brick Works is located at 550 Bayview Ave. The farmers’ market takes place year-round every Saturday from 8am-1pm. If taking public transit, there is a free shuttle bus that operates 7 days a week beside Broadview subway station, as well as the 28A Davisville TTC bus that runs on Saturdays from 8am-3pm between Evergreen Brick Works and Davisville subway station. Click here to learn more the site, their events and programs, and how to get here by bus, bike, car, or foot.