Welcome to Part II of “Fresh Faces at the CSI Lunchtime Markets”! Since I started posting about these markets back in October, I’ve shown you guys lots of photos of Earth & City‘s fabuous vegan food and yesterday I focused exclusively on the bread and baked goods made by Sara of Nice Buns. Today I’m sharing with all you two new faces who joined the foodie team at the CSI markets several weeks ago: Fresh City Farms and Boardwalk Chocolates! Both Fresh City and Boardwalk are local, homegrown Toronto businesses bringing fresh produce and vegan chocolates to the lives of Torontoians and beyond.
Fresh City Farms is a program, initiative, and urban farming business that operates right in Toronto and their mission is to bring fresh produce, food knowledge, and awareness to urban farming practices and social food policy. The very first time I learned of Fresh City Farms was actually during the summer at the University of Toronto farmers’ market at the St. George campus.
What’s significant about Fresh City’s enterprise is their mission and their goals. Let’s face it, many of us have grown up in urban environments that are far removed from the processes of food production and manufacturing. It isn’t uncommon for people to go through their whole lives not knowing where their food comes from, how it was grown, who was involved in the process of food growth and creation, and all the other facets of production. There is so much that goes into every bite of food we eat every day and whether our lack of knowledge is a result of a lack of learning opportunities, awareness, or open discussion, it’s an issue that many food producers and policy makers are attempting to remedy.
This is where Fresh City Farms situates itself. It functions as a local food business, providing fresh, sustainable, and organic produce and food products to the greater city of Toronto through its Fresh City box initiative. Its mission is to provide the knowledge, tools, and connections to those who wish to engage in urban farming practices right in their own backyards or local neighbourhoods but can’t because of infrastructural issues or lack of resources.
Their initiative is to bring awareness to Toronto’s foodways and policies, encouraging everyone to learn more about how they can make a difference in their diets, their environmental impact, and the ways in which food is cultivated. The whole premise behind this mission is that the more connected we are to our avenues of food, the more we engage and learn about social life and the environments and resources that surround us.
Fresh City Farms holds the same belief as I do: that food is not just food; it’s a learning experience and a creative work constantly in progress. Food is about labour, the environment, creativity, family, survival, relationships, and so much more. Fresh City, along with Earth & City, Chocosol, and a host of other CSI Lunchtime Market team members, are guided by these same beliefs and values.
On this particular day, Fresh City Farms had wooden crates bursting with bright orange carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic bulbs, mushrooms, red cabbage, yams, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, fresh herbs, apples, pomegrantes, oranges, and blueberries. Even though I was the first one to show up to the market that day (what can I say? I’m a eager beaver), it quickly became busy with people buying bowls of pumpkin butternut squash soup from Cassandra’s Earth & City table (a first for Earth & City according to Cassandra!), nabbing some of Sara’s apple cinnamon walnut buns and bread, and grabbing bags of potatoes and other vegetables left and right. Had I not been there right when the market started, I would have had one mighty difficult time taking photos!
To add even more sweetness to the vegan delight mix, Siue Moffat and her Boardwalk Chocolates were there to lend a decadent vegan, gluten-free, and organic chocolate hand! Boardwalk Chocolates is a chocolate truffle and candy confection business located in the Annex in Panacea Eco Shop just off of Bloor and Bathurst, and is the Great White North’s only vegan and gluten-free chocolate truffle company! Siue and her chocolatey, fair trade, vegan creations can be found and enjoyed at different markets and events in town (check out their website for a listing of events and appearances) and this just in, now also at Sadie’s Juice Bar (Sadie’s Diner’s sister) in Kensington Market!
The flavours of chocolate truffles alone will have you tripping over yourself. We’re talking key lime pie, gingerbread caramel, banana split, lavender chestnut, almond orange, peanut butter cloud, sesame and banana with orange blossom water, and many more. The truffles come in boxes of 4 ($5.50) with four different flavours in each (each box contains a different flavour collection, such a nut one, a dessert inspired one, and others) and at the market, they were also available individually for $2 a piece. I honestly couldn’t believe what good prices the chocolates were. All the truffles I’ve come across at other confectioners have been on the pricier side and although $2 is pretty average for a single truffle, $5.50 for a box of 4 is just fabulous. I wish I had bought some that day, but alas, I didn’t and am totally kicking myself for it. I am definitely planning on snatching some up for the holidays though!
Boardwalk Chocolates also sells solid chocolate pieces, vintage chocolate molds of 60s inspired objects, and chocolate bark. In addition to the sweet vegan delights, Siue also sells a zine version of her vegan dessert cookbooks, Lickin the Beaters 2: Vegan Chocolate and Candy! I know many of you are huuuge fans of zines and vegan baking and desserts so I wanted to pass that along for those of you who might be interested in checking out the scrumptious literature!
I’ll be really sad to see the market eventually come to an end and I hope the markets will continue on in some form in the new year because they’re so much fun and of course, delicious! It’s amazing what you can learn just be going and I’m so happy to pass along everything I see and discover onto all of you. It’s all about options and accessibility and it’s wonderful knowing that we have people in the city who genuinely love food in all its forms and who share their passion and creativity with the rest of us.
The Lunctime Markets at the Centre for Social Innovation in the Annex and on Spadina take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively from 11:30am-1pm. The Centre for Social Innovation (Annex) is located at 720 Bathurst Street, just south of Bloor Street West and Lennox. They also have a location on Spadina at 215 Spadina Ave., 4th floor.