Asparagus, Pastries, Soaps & More at the Liberty Village Farmers’ Market! The Ate by Ate Daily, Vol. 010

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Hi everyone!  It was a little quiet here over the weekend but that was totally unintentional.  I did take Saturday off but I was all set to post these photos last night when I was suddenly and rudely kicked off my computer in the middle of photo editing.  The internet crapped out on me.  Round and around the little refresh icon went like a never-ending washing machine cycle.  Sigh.  Isn’t technology grand?  Oh well, no matter, everything’s fine now and the weekend was pretty great.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous and for those who were able to spend time with their dads, I hope you had a fun Father’s Day!  Ours was low-key as usual.  My dad isn’t fussy about the frou-frou stuff.  We just make sure he’s well-fed and he’s all smiles.  We had roast chicken for him on Friday and fresh sashimi for him on Saturday.  And a paper baggy of these Chinese red bean sesame balls that he loves so much.  He’s a simpleton.

Ooo, the new and shiny Liberty Village 'welcome' corner at King & Atlantic

Ooo, the new and shiny Liberty Village ‘welcome’ corner at King & Atlantic

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Peas!

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Monforte Dairy cheese, YUM.

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So many yummy-smelling soaps from Opeongo Soaps!

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As for me, I had myself a lovely day out yesterday, enjoying weekend brunch at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen West (new Gladstone post coming soon!), a David’s tea and a cupcake (surprise, surprise), and a quick visit to the farmers’ market in Liberty Village!  For those who’ve never been, the market is located in the Green P lot at East Liberty St. and Atlantic Ave. just off of King Street West and east of Dufferin on Sundays from 9am-2pm.  Organized by MyMarket, it’s a small one that offers a seasonal selection of fruits and vegetables, cheese, meats, honey, and this year, even handcrafted soaps made from either goat’s milk or rainwater from Opeongo Soaps, a local farm and business in Ontario that specializes in skincare products and soapmaking (check out their official site HERE).

Even though the market is small, I know it’ll get bigger as the season goes on (I’ve been to this market a few times over the past 3 years and they were at different points in the market season so I’ve seen the differences) and I always take away something wonderful from it and I feel this way about all farmers’ markets no matter how big or how small they are.  While it is about finding things that you love and personal preferences, it truly is about the quality of product available.

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I didn’t pick up any fruits or vegetables during this visit but I did snatch up some fabulous pastries: half a dozen fresh baked tarts and a ginourmous muffin!  I could kick myself for not remembering (or taking a photo of) the farm/vendor’s name, but I’ve purchased goodies from them before, specifically some homemade peach jam and pickled beets last summer.  This particular vendor not only sells the actual fruit from their farm but also homemade pastries, preserves and jams made with their homegrown product.  This time around I bought an apple pie muffin (there were 3 kinds to choose from: strawberry-rhubarb, chocolate raspberry, and apple pie) and 6 tarts: 3 butter tarts (because who doesn’t love a freakin’ awesome local Canadian butter tart?!) and 3 raspberry lemon meringue tarts!  My brother has already eaten one of the butter tarts and him and my mum shared the apple pie muffin and they loved them.  My tastebuds and tummy will be enjoying a raspberry lemon meringue tomorrow – can’t wait!  But yes, I promise I’ll get their name for you all the next time I’m there.  And trust me, there will be a next time because I also wanted to grab several bars of the handcrafted soap but didn’t because I’m silly and didn’t bring enough cash for the extra purchase.  Total facepalm moment.

(Update June 17: the vendor/farm is Sun Ray Orchards!  Thanks to My Market Toronto for tweeting me the info!)

Soapless visit aside, it was so nice coming back to this market.  I picked up some delicious baked goods and I was able to take some more cool shots of asparagus!  I got so excited when I saw how the asparagus was arranged when I first entered the parking lot that I zipped right to it like a vulture.  It has now, unintentionally, become my THING to photograph asparagus.  I don’t whether to feel happy-geeked or embarrassed.  Maybe I’ll go with happy-geeked.  Because maybe one day I’ll have enough nice photos to make a coffee table book.  Shrugs.  You never know.

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The Liberty Village farmers’ market takes place every Sunday from 9am-2pm in the Green P parking lot on East Liberty Street between Atlantic and Hanna Ave.  The outdoor market season is from June 1st to November 27th.  Liberty Village can be accessed from King Street West and Dufferin Street.  Check out Ate by Ate’s Liberty Village farmers’ market posts HERE!

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3 Years in the Making – A Return Visit to the East York Farmers’ Market! The Ate by Ate Daily, Vol. 007

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Time passes by so fast that sometimes, you don’t even notice how long it’s been since you last did something because each and every day comes and goes in a blurry flurry of activity.  You think, “oh, it must have only been a year or so” until you think back real hard or look at photos and realize, “holy jeebus, make that three!”  That was me today after my visit to the East York farmer’s market just outside the East York Civic Centre at the corner of Mortimer and Coxwell.  I haven’t been back to this market in three years.  THREE.  And oddly enough, almost right down to the day: June 14, 2011 when I took those first photos and wrote my post on the market and its baby eggplants.

It’s the strangest feeling in the world when the realization sinks in that while three years have gone by, some things just don’t change.  In some ways I feel like I’ve come full circle to where my life was at three years ago and feeling somewhat…stuck.  And in other ways, everything has changed.  In June 2011, I had just graduated from grad school, I hadn’t yet started my baking adventures with Lisa and Miya at Le Dolci, and Ate by Ate was only 6 and a half months old.  I don’t even think I had a Twitter account for Ate by Ate at that point yet.  The one constant though?  How my routine jaunts to the markets have grounded my blogging, made photography so much fun, and in general, made me happy.  They’ve pushed me to keep positive.  You get out for fresh air.  You walk.  You meet nice people.  You visit neighbourhoods you wouldn’t otherwise visit.  And you get those creative juices going like you wouldn’t believe.  And as a bonus, you get to eat and buy some awesome local food.  Who knew fruits and veggies were good for your health in more ways than one?!

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Today’s morning visit to the East York farmers’ market was so lovely.  The weather was beautiful and it was so nice to get out and clear my head for a bit.  That and I just love taking photos of fruits and vegetables!  I definitely got a lot of amused smiles and stares from vendors and fellow market-goers as I clicked away at tomatoes, asparagus and baby zucchinis.  It happens every time; I’m used to it!  The market is set up in a really great green space outside the civic centre near plenty of benches to sit on, trees and shade to keep cool under, and even some pretty gardens to enjoy.  Despite the generous crowd of people who filter in soon after the market is up and running at 8am, there’s still this beautiful sense of peaceful to it and I love it.

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At the market today: heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, jams, jellies and honey, bread and pastries, sausages and cured meats, baby eggplant, baby zucchini, wild mushrooms, bell peppers, fresh herbs and herb plants, lettuces and kale, strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus – lots and lots of asparagus!  I know this sounds weird, but asparagus has truly proven to be one of the most photogenic vegetables.  I’ve photographed asparagus many times over the years and it still amazes me how you can get such cool shots of it time and time again.  Hello total foodie geek moment.

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So, what did I pick up from the market this morning?  Two big bunches of gorgeous green leaf lettuce, $2 a pop.  YES, lettuce.  I know it’s nothing glamourous but I love me my greens and lettuces!  I’ve been going nuts over the arugula at Wychwood Barns as of late so why not throw some more greens into the mix?  The stuff is less expensive AND nicer at the farmers’ market than it is at the supermarket so there’s really no reason to pass on such nice food.  I can’t wait to use it in sandwiches and as the base for lettuce wraps.  I can see it now: green leaf lettuce wrapped around shredded chicken, sprinkled with sesame seeds and drizzled with peanut sauce.  Or wrapped around shredded chicken with black beans, avocado, and shredded cheese.  Or with fish.  Or shrimp.  YUM.

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East York Civic Centre is located at 850 Coxwell Ave. at Mortimer Ave.  The East York farmers’ market takes places on the front terrace of the civic centre every Tuesday from 8am-2pm, May to November

A Taste of Spring, A Taste of Summer – Farmers’ Market Season & Ate by Ate Are Back!

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Happy first day of June everyone!  While the season of beaches, sand, and endless sunshine doesn’t officially start until June 21, I think it’s safe to say that June 1st is the unofficial kick-off to the summer season and all the amazing things to come in the coming months.  We got over the May long weekend hump (which, ironically enough, is almost always chilly by our standards!), we’ve been peppered with a few days of muggy weather over the last week or so and now we’re fully immersed in the farmers’ market season!  A number of markets have made their return in May (including Leslieville, Trinity Bellwoods, Fresh Wednesdays at Nathan Phillips Square, East York, Metro Hall at David Pecaut Square just to name a handful) and a long list of others will be joining the market family for the season in June.  Given how I’ve been away for the last little while, I’m obviously behind on my market lists but rest assured, they’ll be up this week with updates and the like for markets in the Toronto and York Region area.

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I am so happy to be back and to put some things behind me.  I needed that time to completely annex myself from the blogging community and from most of the online world with the exception of checking e-mail (unfortunately, there was no running away from that one).  So far, 2014 has been…trying, to say the least.  Looking for work, dealing with winter, and making some revelations about people in and outside of the blogging community has not been fun.  At all.  It’s one thing to know when folks are trying to take advantage of you and giving your best one-two punch in return to stand up for yourself, but it’s a whole other can of worms when it becomes blatantly obvious that many will stoop to the level of scum to get what they want and have no issue pulling the rug out from under you when you’re not expecting it.  And let me be clear that while some of this applies to me, some of it does not.  Some of it is seeing it happen to others.  And it has sickened me.  Stealing content and ideas.  Taking credit where credit isn’t due.  Not being up front and playing people as fools.  Using someone to pimp them for information.  All without shame.

It’s been one hiccup after another and there were times during those low moments when I would think, “what is the goddamn point to all of this?  I’ll just stick to my own craft and scrapbook and not share ANYTHING of mine with anyone because people are freakin’ tools and be done with all of this garbage!”  And then my mum would remind me, “but your blog is your baby.  You gave ‘birth’ to it and you would never give it up.”

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And as much as I hate to admit it when my mother is right, she was right.  I’ve devoted 20 years of my life to a love of art and food; in spite of all that “garbage”, it didn’t make any sense to let any of this go.  It was so important to remind myself why I love doing what I do and the things that make me happiest.  Tune out the numbers game that folks try to play, tune out the one-upping, tune out the negativity and just be strong and focus on the pure love and passion for the craft.

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So while I haven’t blogged, I haven’t stopped photographing, I haven’t stopped exploring (well, except when it was unbearably cold), and I most certainly have not stopped eating!  I started going to the markets again and actually went two weekends in a row at the crack of dawn recently (hopped on a bus at 6:30am!) and shopped and photographed my brains out.  Simply because it made me happy.  The market at Wychwood Barns moved outdoors earlier in May which made for some beautiful shots and I was able to pick up a ridiculous amount of fresh food: gorgeous baby kale, beautiful arugula (if my memory serves me right, I bought 4 bags), amazing local cheese, black bean vegan burgers and navy bean parsley pesto from Earth & City and so much more.  Aside from cupcakeries, tea shops and afternoon tea, markets are truly my happy place because you can tell your story through photos alone.

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Cassandra from Earth & City really tugged at my heartstrings during one of those weekend visits when she introduced me to one of their newer hires: “Deb blogs and she was there with us during our first months years ago and we were so excited because, ahhh, press!”  And there it was right there, why any of this is meaningful.  Because not only can we quietly make a positive impact on others through what we do but along the way we make friends, meet good people that make us believe that the good has a shot at outweighing the bad, and we become special notes and memories in each others’ life stories.

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For all of Ate by Ate’s Wychwood Barns farmers’ market posts, click HERE

For all of Ate by Ate’s farmers’ market posts over the years (84 and counting!), click HERE

For all of Ate by Ate’s posts on vegan food producer Earth & City (and plenty of mouthwateing food porn), click HERE

The Stop Community Food Centre Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns is held year-round on Saturdays from 8am-12pm.  The park and historic community centre complex is located at 76 Wychwood Ave. just off of St. Clair Ave. West, east of Christie St. and west of Bathurst St.  http://www.thestop.org/green-barn-market

Photo Spotlight on Bun-wiches, Grilled Cheese & More Food at Crème Fraîche Market Cafe!

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Crème Fraîche Market Cafe is a cafe and local food shop located in the west end of Toronto in Annette Village/The Junction neighbourhod at 639 Annette Street.  The shop is just several blocks west of Runnymede Road and south of Dundas Street West.  They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays), from 8am-8pm.  Visit their official website HERE.

All Aboard! Fall Fruits & Vegetables & Lineups for Baked Goods & Pork at the Junction Market Train Platform!

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“Oh my goodness, what in the world are people lining up for??”

I stopped dead in my tracks and gaped incredulously at the crowd of people gathered before me on the sidewalk just up the street.  Was there a sidewalk sale?  No.  Were folks handing out free stuff?  Nope.  Did Hugh Jackman return to TO for post-TIFF shenanigans?  I wish.  No, the line of people spilling out onto the street curb was in fact lining up for bread.  And cinnamon rolls.  And pork.  And croissants.  And pork.  And tacos.

Did I mention pork?

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This was the scene before me as I walked into the Junction Market’s brand spankin’ new home on the Junction Train Platform, a hubbub of community activity near and dear to the Junction community’s heart.  And when I say hubbub, I mean HUBBUB.  I was shocked at the sheer volume of market goers milling around every inch of space on the market grounds.  The Train Platform is such a cool space.  There’s train station graffiti art on the brick wall to the west, a raised wooden platform stage and a roof awning over top.  The market vendors were set up in a square shape around the perimeter of the space with more vendors filling in a portion of the centre.  I was surprised I was able to get as many clean shots as I did.  I mean, I know I didn’t arrive right when the market started at 8am (I did due diligence and got there just before 10:30am – give me a break, I live in Markham and wanted the extra hour of sleep!) but my goodness I have never been to a market where I had to strategically figure out how to just get IN.  And I LOVED it.

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The Junction Market had great turnouts at their old location down the road in the Green P parking lot but this was the first market season at the Train Platform and you can tell that the market is just more…alive.  There’s a buzz in the air, the crowd is bigger, and there’s this feeling and sense of community, grassroots, and togetherness.  That we’re all there to pick up delicious food, support our farmers and food producers and to simply be surrounded by people who love market food.

It’s a wonderful feeling and I have missed this so much.  This past summer I really dropped the ball on making visits to the market and I feel like I missed out on so much.  Fall is here though and I am determined to make the most of the season and that means breathing in the beautiful bounty of fresh food all the markets have to offer.  The Junction Market has been one of my favourites since it’s beginnings in 2012.  It may not be the biggest, but by golly do I ever find fantastic stuff whenever I go.  I’ve picked up bunches upon bunches of kale, sprouts, pesto, chutney and baked goods and coming out here gives me the opportunity to explore the west end more which I love.

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This past Saturday, there were gorgeous bunches of swiss chard, adorable baskets of wild blueberries (they’re so tiny and cute!), pretty plump pears, huge bunches of kale (my go-to market veg!), scotch eggs, empanadas and more from Hogtown Charcuterie, house-cured peameal on a bun, jerk pork, and eleventy billion kinds of ribs from When the Pig Came Home Smokehouse and Larder (gotta love the name!), squash, tomatoes, beans and so much more.  I was so excited and focused on taking photos I backed up and crashed right into a parked bike which left unattractive dusty tire marks on my leggings which I furiously tried to rub off whilst balancing my camera.

Real smooth, Debra.  Real smooth.

Not bad for my first market visit of the 2013 fall season though!  I discovered some yummy new vendors (that peameal on a bun and kale salad will be MINE next time!  Oh, and maybe a scotch egg.  And maybe some tacos too), got to visit them at their new location, and happily walked away with new photos and the beautiful, newest issue of Edible Toronto magazine featuring Sosnicki Organic Farm, a Junction market vendor, on the cover!  This is just the beginning of a scrumptious fall season.

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The Junction Market takes place Saturdays from 9am-1pm (May 25 to November 9) at the Junction Train Platform at 2960 Dundas Street West by Pacific Ave.  You can follow them on Twitter @JunctionMarket!

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, It’s Beautiful Day for a Market – A Trip to Trinity Bellwoods!

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bellwoods collage2Last Tuesday was one of the most topsy-turvy days I’ve experienced all year.  I was taking a vacation day from work as a “me” day and I had my fun day all planned out: lots of yummy food, walking around town, a little bit of shopping, and oh, going to the amazing Taste of PEI and PEI Cooking Challenge event taking place at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Liberty Village and MEETING MICHAEL SMITH!  Holy shit on a stick.  Rest assured, you will all see and hear about it once I get my wits together and bang out those posts in the new few days!

But was last Tuesday ever a rollercoaster.  One minute I was in such happy conniptions I was ready to jump out of my skin, the next I wanted to cry because my head was pounding so hard from an oncoming migraine that couldn’t decide if it wanted to just call it a day and leave me alone once and for all or, well, kill me.  I could not believe my rotten luck.  SERIOUSLY.  On the day I was set to immerse myself in PEI cuisine and Michael Smith’s presence.  The sheer coincidence was worthy of an eye-roll and a few choice curse words at the very least.  It really shouldn’t have come as any surprise though.  The weather had been shit: it was cool and overcast, then drizzly, then back to overcast, then sunny and warm, then uncomfortably warm and it’s any wonder I made it through the entire day in one piece.

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Then as soon as I thought the dull pain in my head had subsided, my feet decided to revolt against me.  I mean, I know I was walking around town in Mary Janes but in my defense, they had nice rubber soles and were quite comfortable aside from the fact that the strap on my right shoe was strangling my right foot because my right foot is lame and is slightly bigger than my left.

Even after that, I made it out at the end of the day happy and excited and so full of joy.  And a part of that joy came from making a return visit to the farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods!  It was Tuesday, the event didn’t start until 4pm, the market started at 3pm, and I was only a hop, skip, and step away from Ossington which would take me straight into Liberty Village on bus.

IT WAS MEANT TO BE.

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I miss going to weekday markets SO MUCH.  Coming back to this one felt like home.  I snapped photos of beautiful asparagus, granola cookies, the pretty rainbow of colours in Evelyn’s Crackers’ packaging (my boyfriend is quite the fan of their stuff and I’d recommend their lavender shortbread!), the cutest of mushrooms and baked goods among other yummies.  Highlights?  Seeing Apple Mint being sold by Wooler Dale Farm (I didn’t know such a thing existed!), drooling over lemon ricotta croissants and apple, coconut, almond granola from Breadsong, snapping shots of the gorgeous yellow oyster mushrooms from The Mushroom Man from Waymac Farms (can you imagine how awesome these would look on a mixed mushroom pizza or flatbread?!  It’d be gorgeous and most likely delicious), and seeing the giant Trinity Bellwoods market banner strung over the fence by the kids playground in the park.

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Markets are so integral to our communities and woven so tightly into our communal fabric.  It’s a beautiful thing to see and an even more beautiful thing to be a part of regardless of what part of town the market is in or the size of it.  No matter how many times you go to the same market, there will always be something a little different to see, to try, and to explore.  Looking back at my Trinity Bellwoods market posts, with the exception of nice asparagus in the spring posts, nothing is exactly the same and that’s a good thing because while consistency is nice, it’s the new and the different that will keep things fresh and keep everyone engaged.  I’m happy I braved my head pain to make this visit and while I didn’t pick anything up to bring home this time around, I can’t wait to come back later on in the summer during my time off and really take advantage of the market groceries!

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The farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods Park is located at Dundas St. West and Shaw St. every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm.

Farmers’ Markets Returning – and Debuting! – in June 2013 in the City

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There are SO many markets returning for the summer and fall season this June, not to mention FOUR (count ’em, 4!) brand new ones making their mark on the food scene including CityPlace market by the Lakeshore, Regent Park market by Dundas and Parliament and more!  Markets are listed in the order of their return or debut.  Check out all markets and market events on the Market page on Ate by Ate’s menu toolbar up top – I’ll be updating the full shebang for June tomorrow!

Etobicoke Farmers’ Market, June 1 – November 2.  Saturdays, 8am-2pm.  Etobicoke Civic Centre, located at 399 The West Mall just south of Burnhamthorpe Ave.  http://365etobicoke.com/etobicoke-civic-centre-farmers-market/

Humber Bay Shores Farmers’ Market *NEW!*, June 1 – October 12.  Saturdays, 8am-1pm.  Humber Bay Park West (just south of Lake Shore Boulevard West and Park Lawn Road).

Liberty Village Farmers’ Market, June 2 – October 27.  Sundays, 9am-2pm.  Green P parking lot on East Liberty Street between Atlantic and Hanna Ave.  http://www.my-market.ca/liberty.html

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Nathan Phillips Square ‘Fresh Wednesdays’ Farmers’ Market, June 2 – October 13.  Wednesdays, 8am-2:30pm.  100 Queen Street West at Bay St. in downtown Toronto by Old City Hall and The Eaton Centre.

CityPlace Farmers’ Market *NEW!*, June 4 – October 15.  Tuesdays, 3:30pm-7:30pm.  Canoe Landing Park at the corner of Fort York Blvd. and Dan Leckie Way (north of Lakeshore and west of Spadina).  http://www.my-market.ca/

Bloor-Borden Farmers’ Market, June 5 – October 23.  Wednesdays, 3pm-7pm.  Green P parking lot at Lippincott St. and Bloor Street West, just east of Bathurst St.  http://www.my-market.ca/bloor.html

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John Street Farmers’ Market *NEW!*, June 5 – October 30.  Wednesdays, 3:30pm-7pm.  205 John Street at the St. George the Martyr Anglican Church (by the Grange Park and OCAD between Dundas and Queen).  http://www.johnstreetmarket.ca/

Regent Park Farmers’ Market *NEW!*, June 5 – October 30.  Wednesdays, 2pm-8pm.  Regent Park Boulevard, south of Dundas Street East and east of Parliament.

University of Toronto Scarborough Farmers’ Market, June 5 – October 9.  Wednesdays, 3pm-7pm in the summer and fall.  Markets continue during the winter on the first Wednesday of every month from November to April from 11am-3pm.  Parking Lot 4 located at 1265 Military Trail, south of Ellesmere Rd. and east of Morningside Ave.

East Lynn Farmers’ Market, June 6 – October 17.  Thursdays, 3pm-7pm.  East Lynn Park, located at 1949 Danforth Ave. just east of Woodbine Ave.  http://www.my-market.ca/eastlynn.html

Fairview Mall Farmers’ Market, June 14 – October 11.  Fridays, 8am-1:30pm.  South parking lot at Fairview Mall, located at 1800 Sheppard Ave. East at Don Mills Rd.

Stonegate Farmers’ Market, June 25 – October 8.  Tuesdays, 4pm-7pm.  Parking lot of Stonegate Plaza located at 150 Berry Road just east of Stephen St. in the west end of Toronto (as a geographic reference, south of Old Mill and Royal York subway stations).  http://www.stonegatechc.org/programs-services/food-programs/farmers-market.html