Category Archives: Farmers Market

At the August 29th West End Farmers Market…

Where to begin?  The West End Farmers Market Tomato Festival takes place from 9:00-2:00 tomorrow, so that should be reason enough to get out of bed before noon.   This week’s feature tomato of the week is the ….

Paul Robeson:

paul_robesonA Russian heirloom.  This favourite heirloom tomato was named after the operatic artist who won acclaim as an advocate of equal rights for people of colour.  His artistry was admired world-wide, especially in the Soviet Union.  This “black” beefsteak tomato is slightly flattened, round, and grows to 4-inches.  It’s deep, rich colours set it apart from others…a dusky, dark-red tomato with dark-green shoulders, and red flesh in it’s centre.  A very flavourful fruit, with luscious, earthy flavours and a good sweet/acid balance.

We are now at the height of the local farmers market season.  In addition to last week’s offerings, you will be able to choose from between 4-5 varieties of melons, apples (the Mac’s just arrived last week!), squash, and an ever-increasing variety of both sweet and hot peppers.  Be sure check out the most delicious selection of plums that can be found in the Lower Mainland.  Varieties include Sugar, Lionheart, Amber, and, my personal favourite, Santa Rosa.  Seriously, if you have given up on finding a tasty plum, give these little guys a chance to change your mind.

Padrón Peppers

A Spanish delicacy.  As far as I know, Klippers Organic Acres is the only farm that grows this variety in Canada.


Here is an easy way to prepare them:

  • Clean the peppers and dry them completely.  Do not remove the stalks.
  • Pan fry them in some quality olive until they blister.
  • Drain the excess oil by placing them on some paper towels.
  • Season with some good quality salt and enjoy.

Most of the peppers will have a sweet, fresh pepper taste – but one out of every ten will be scorching hot.  It is for this reason that padrones are known as Russian Roulette peppers.   I believe that this is a game worth playing, but you should plan accordingly.  I suggest pairing them with your favourite locally crafted brew in the event that things get out of hand.

Padrón peppers are available at the Vancouver Farmers Markets through to the end of September.

Tomato Festival Begins This Weekend

Celebrate the bounty of local tomatoes at this year’s Vancouver Farmers’ Market’s Tomato Festival. Rediscover the tomato and learn about varieties you never knew existed like the Green Pineapple (which has an excellent tropical fruit flavour with a hint of pineapple, believe it or not).

Festivals begin this weekend!

Saturday, August 22nd
9:00 – 2:00 pm
Trout Lake Market

Wednesday, August 26th
Main Street Market

Saturday, August 29th
9:00 – 2:00 pm
West End Market

Sunday, August 30th
10:00 – 2:00 pm
Kitsilano Market

Enjoy Tomato Festival activities, including:

  • A beautiful display of the many tomato varieties grown by our farmers
  • Free (and delicious) Tomato Recipes
  • Tomato Tastings
  • Kids crafts with a tomato theme
  • Face painting for your little tomato
  • Guest Chef Neil Taylor from Cibo Trattoria at the Trout Lake and West End Festivals

Do you plan to go? Leave a comment.

At the August 1st West End Farmers Market…

cherry_tomatoesThese organic cherry tomatoes are bursting with flavour. I recommend using them to accentuate a dish of pasta al olio. Often regarded as a good test of cooking ability by Italians of discriminating taste, pasta al olio is both delicious and deceivingly simple to prepare. The key is to not over complicate things. You just want to use a few quality ingredients and allow them to shine through. In this case, I think that the addition of the cherry tomatoes works well.

When you start cooking your pasta (a quality bronze dyed fettuccine is recommended), add the halved cherry tomatoes, some thinly sliced garlic, a sprinkling of kosher salt, and a generous amount of olive oil to a second pan. The tomatoes will start to break down while your pasta boils.  Be careful to cook at a low temperature, ensuring that the slices of garlic do not brown. When your pasta is al dente, the tomatoes will be ready. Toss to combine and, if needed, add some of the reserved pasta water to bring it all together.  Finish with some torn basil leaves, a little freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano and a few cracks of pepper if you like.  Simple and very, very good.

pasta_olioThere will be a greater selection of heirloom, field-ripened tomatoes at the market this week; they may still even be around if you wake up at 11. A variety of peppers including Hungarian hot bananas and a Spanish delicacy called padrones will also be available.  Apricots, an early apple variety or two, and maybe even some peaches will make an appearance. Superstar and Walla Walla onions, both fresh and cured garlic, several varieties of basil, zucchini, cucumbers, and a selection of beans should also be among the offerings from the friendly folks at Klippers Organic Acres.

Guilt-Free Fridge Cleaning

I’ll admit that, as a single gal, I quite often purchase the vegetables I plan to eat and then, a week or so later, clean out the fridge, removing the vegetables that never made it to the table. I realize that it’s a waste. Really I do, but what am I going to do with mushy, expired vegetables?

A sign at the Coquitlam Farmers’ Market a while ago has ended all that:

“Hand-weeded fields”

What? Somebody has spent hours on their hands and knees weeding their field so I can have quality produce?? I now rarely chuck produce (and save some dough in the process), even the bits that don’t work in soup.

Here are some clever ways to end the waste and save those people’s knees!

  • Wiggly carrots: clean them up, wrap them in foil, adding butter (or olive oil for the vegans among us), salt and pepper, and place them on the BBQ. Ten minutes later, beautiful, sweet carrots emerge.
  • Wilty spinach: Heat up your favourite soup, place the spinach at the bottom of the bowl and ladle over the soup. The spinach adds zillions of nutrients to your soup, and you won’t care that they’re not at their most crisp!
  • Mushy berries: I cannot handle the mouth feel of mushy berries (like a 5-year old, really) and often end up blending them up and adding them to toast (with a bit of sugar), cake, or ice cream.

Do you have any veggie-savers to share? Leave a comment below.

Fresh, Gabriola Lettuce

Fresh LettuceCheck out the pics my friend Peggy sent from the Gabriola Island weekend Farmers Market.

“Check out this lettuce I bought this AM at the farmer’s market: the blackest I’ve ever seen! It’s not really red on the outer edges – it truly is black, and neon green at the center.”

Thanks for the delicious pics!

Check out your local farmers market for funky food that tastes amazing.

The Fresh Face of Farming

<b>Hanley Homegrown<b/>

Hanley Homegrown

I think the face of farming is changing.

I was in a little town outside Cleveland, OH recently and took in the weekend farmers market. It was a small event by booth numbers, but bustling, and in talking with many of the vendors it became clear that it was also a highly successful event. It usually takes several years to pick up a following, I was told, but the Chagrin Falls Sunday farmers market was an instant success when it started last year and was immediately profitable for the farmers involved.

I spent some time chatting with various vendors and was intrigued by what I found. First, there are lots of old farms and experienced farmers in the area. At one booth, the second and third generation of farmers with a 50+ year old farm was manning the booth. That is a lot of history right there! Another family affair had two generations and 12 years behind their banner.

<b>Hanley Homegrown T-shirt Bag</b>

Hanley Homegrown T-shirt Bag

In contrast, I also met a couple of young, newbie farmers. One with only a year and another with two years behind them respectively. Kelli at Hanley Homegrown particularly stood out, both with her enthusiasm and her innovation. She’s growing assorted greens. And making delicious, unique jams. And making shopping bags from old t-shirts (we share an interest in the concept of reuse before recycle). Oh, and when the appropriate greens start popping up, she’ll be putting bundles of herbs together and selling them in soon-to-be salsa packages.

Kelli stood out not only because of her energy and creativity, it was also her fresh approach. I’m a marketing specialist by trade — well, really, it courses through my veins and I can’t stop myself — and I couldn’t help wondering what kind of havoc she’s going to wreck on the staid, old produce-piled-on-tables image some people have of farmers markets. And I smile. It’s about time.

See, Kelli is her target market. Like her contemporaries she’s young, engaged, creative and knows what she wants: local, delicious, healthy, sustainably farmed food. I suspect she’s going to make that happen.

Cooking With Farmers Market Finds

Sometimes when I wander the farmers market I see interesting food, but I’m not always sure how to cook it or how to incorporate it into my menu plan.

Pork lover, foodie, and newly launched food blogger Chris Flett of The Hanging Pig instead let his finds at the local farmers market inspire his culinary capers.

After a recent visit to the Vancouver West End Farmers Market, Flett’s inspiration for a fabulous-looking pork roast came from the dried fruit and fresh herbs he found there. His most recent post, Minor Surgery on a Major Pork Roast, shows step by delicious step instructions on the making of a feast.

Pork lovers of the world unite.

Main Street Station Farmers Market Opens this Wednesday!

Are your leafy greens running out? Vancouver Farmers Market has the perfect place to stock-up for the rest of the week.

Come to the new Main Street Station Farmers Market, starting this Wednesday from 3pm to 7pm. It is located near the very urban, yet surprisingly beautiful, NE corner of Main and Terminal.The 90-year old Pacific Central Station forms the backdrop while Thornton Park sprawls out in front. Visit your favourite vendors and listen to music as you pick up something on your way home from work.

Conveniently located on SkyTrain’s Expo Line, this market is close to multiple bus routes and driving thorough fares. Parking is available near the site. Ask about their bicycle delivery service!

More information: