Pop-Up Farmers’ Markets, Organic Veggies, & Lots of Kale! Samsara Fields at Crème Fraîche Market Cafe

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Sometimes things are just meant to be.  Like when you stop by your favourite shop on a whim and everything is on sale.  Or when you pay a visit to your favourite bakery and oh, what do you know, a fresh batch of goodies have just come out of the oven!  Many wonderful, serendipitous things have happened in my food world (like when I unknowingly went to Hammersmith’s on the day of their 1st birthday and was consequently treated to a yummy cupcake on the house!) and yesterday’s farmers’ market trek to Crème Fraîche Market Cafe on Annette Street was just that, serendipitous. 

I wanted to see what baked goods they had on hand, I wanted to take new photos, and I really just wanted to go for fun.  So I went online bright and early in the morning to double check my bus schedule and thought it would be a good idea to double check Crème Fraîche’s website to map out my route for the afternoon.  And there it was.  Crème Fraîche’s twitter box with the words “pop-up heirloom farmers’ market” embedded in their latest tweet!  I couldn’t believe my good fortune!  I was so excited I literally skipped out of my house!

Even though pop-up markets are out of my grasp most of the time since the concept is rooted in spontaneity and to a large extent, up-to-the-minute social media (hi there, I don’t text or have internet on my phone!  Yes, yes, I might as well be carring a phone with an antenna, blah blah blah), there’s a lot of value to be found in them for both the farmers/producers and those in the community. 

First off, it’s a surprise and anybody making a trip to Crème Fraîche would be treated to an added bonus of food to choose from that they never expected!  Second, it affords all those who come to the shop the opportunity to get to know a farmer or a producer they hadn’t known of before.  You learn so much about where the food comes from, different varieities of produce, and the about the producers themselves.  More options for fresh and healthy food is never a bad thing!  And finally, it allows the farmers and producers to engage in a different neighbourhood, a different part of the city, and even a different part of the province.  Many growers may only have the time and resources to sell their wares in one or two parts of town, if they’re lucky.  Farmers’ markets are highly competitive, with guidelines, fees, and red tape every which way.  Pop-up markets don’t require long-term commitment (one day only!) and they foster relationships between people as they get to know the farms, the growers, and even the shop that’s hosting the pop-up.  It keeps everyone engaged and interested, not to mention well-fed!

When I arrived at Crème Fraîche, I was treated to a fabulous, beautiful spread of vegetables from Samsara Fields, a local organic Ontario farm owned by organic growers JP Gural and So Young Lee.  Samsara Fields, located in Waterford, Ontario, aims to provide local food security in the form of organic heirloom vegetables – beans, corn, garlic, potatoes, peppers, peas, squash, the list goes on.  After making my rounds inside the Crème Fraîche cafe (sadly, no cheddar black pepper scones yesterday but plenty of fall squash, herb plants, cheese, oats, beans, and lentils!) and having a great talk with Constance, I came back outside to take a look at what I wanted to bring home.  

I was so happy when I found out So Young Lee had oodles of kale for sale!  Crème Fraîche had a big basket of Scottish/curly kale outside and So Young Lee offered me a huuuge assortment of freshly picked kale (picked the day before!) straight from Samsara Fields.  I was in awe at all the different types!  I knew there was black kale and to a lesser extent, red kale, but I had never tried things like lacinato/dinosaur kale, premier kale, or Siberian kale before and I was delighted that I’d get the chance to take some home, especially since my mum had said she really wanted some.  Fresh kale was priced at $5 a bag and I thought, “why not?” so So Young Lee fished a mountain of beautiful kale leaves out from the water where they were peacefully floating, in all different varieties, and stuffed a bag full for me.  The leaves were s0, so beautiful and quite frankly, I was happy to spend the $5 and not have to chuck out a third of the bunch. 

They were delicious with the spaghettini I had for dinner earlier today and it made me so happy knowing I was eating such yummy vegetables and also supporting a dedicated, loving couple who are passionate about food producing and organic farming and growing.  I can’t wait to experience more pop-up markets at Crème Fraîche  and to get more involved in everything else they have to offer including classes and cafe breakfast and brunch! 

*****

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.

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