My visits to three neighbourhood farmers’ markets were learning moments. They were spilling over with the warmth of community that I remembered from childhood. Not to mention the colours, textures and smells of my father’s produce warehouse in Montreal.
Farmer's markets for seniors - a great way to spend the day! Farmer's markets for seniors - a great way to spend the day!

I spent my pre-teen and teenage years working with my father in historic Bonsecours Market on Montreal’s waterfront. It’s all boutiques now, but back in the Fifties the market was full of produce wholesalers such as my father.

I learned to drive on my father’s two-ton truck. I hefted 100-lb. bags of peanuts from the truck into the warehouse. I handled tomatoes, celery, beets, turnips, lettuce, apples, plums, oranges – whatever was seasonal and arriving daily at the Montreal Fruit Terminal, where we went to select our stock of goods.

My father shipped to Newfoundland before it joined Canada. He supplied some restaurants. And he did some side business – retailing to the neighbourhood off display stands out front of the warehouse.

Farmer's market for seniors - all ages enjoy the market

I grew up with produce fresh from the farm in front of me all day.Those kindergartners were enjoying a small taste of my experience on a tour of the Davisville Village Farmers’ Market. They looked like a string of paper cutouts! This market runs on Tuesdays, from 3 to 7 P.M. in June Rowlands Park, Mt. Pleasant Road and Davisville.

In the ground yesterday, on your table tonight – produce, fresh from the hands of the farmer!Farmer's market for seniors - a great variety of produce

Truth to tell, this young woman at the Withrow Park Farmers’ Market is a friend of the farmer. She had daikon radishes, black radishes, kohlrabi, even watermelon radish, which is pink inside! I grew up in the produce business, but I’ve tasted only the daikon, a rather mild radish, in all of my life.

Withrow Park Farmers’ Market is just south of Danforth, between Carlaw and Logan. Every Saturday, from 9 A.M. to 1 P.M.

Farmer's market for seniors - fresh oyster barWhat’s this?!? A fresh-oyster bar at the Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market!

Farmers’ markets aren’t only about fruits and vegetables. I came across this delightful oyster bar at the farmers’ market in Trinity Bellwoods Park. Now, where else in Toronto can you sit in the shade, in a park, on a beautiful summer day and enjoy oysters shucked to order?

This is a great farmer’s market for seniors if you know just where to enter — the market is in a small companion park by the northwest corner of the large Trinity Bellwoods Park. Dundas skirts its north edge. If you opt to enter where the Farmers’ Market sign is, all the way at the Trinity Bellwoods main gate at Queen and Strachan, you’ll be in for a long walk. The market is open from 3 to 7 P.M. on Tuesdays.

Farmer's market for seniors - fresh rhubarb


The rhubarb was in at Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market.
What’s the new crop at your local farmer’s market?


Farmer's market for seniors - strawberries


Farmer's market for seniors - almond croissants


Farmer's Markets for Seniors - Great Fresh Produce











Farmer's market for seniors - fresh breadAs for this young man, he was passionate about his gorgeous breads, and equally passionate about the joy of community at the Withrow Park market.

He has a bakery nearby, but insisted that supplying bread at the farmer’s market for seniors, young people and little kids is a great mix that draws him to the market.

It’s a neighbourhood market , one that the locals walk or cycle to. The Withrow Park market has a kids’ table and a lively playground nearby. Trinity Bellwoods market and the Davisville Village market also have safe, close playgrounds. As a woman at the Davisville market exclaimed to me, when I asked what brought her to that market, “I meet my friends here!” In fact, she said there were some people she met only there, but she included them as “friends.”

Lending a hand at farmer’s markets, for seniors, is a natural way to connect with the community.

Farmer's market for seniors - helping handThat’s a fine looking seafood paella being stirred at the Davisville Village market. But that wasn’t the only “customer-assisted vending” going on there.

I was enlisted by Jason, who had to abandon his stand to move his truck. He asked me to mind the store. Here, he’s sharing some samples of his ChocoSol Mexican chocolate with a couple of fellow vendors.

Farmer's market for seniors - chocolate store

Mexican chocolate, handmade in Toronto from sustainable cacao plantings in Mexico, is something else. Much more subtle than commercial chocolate.

The size of a cacao pod surprised me. So did the boozy aroma of fermented cacao beans in those jars. This was just another of those small adventures that make a day at a community market special. And for a senior such as I, who thinks he’s seen it all, “special” is really wonderful!

Senior's farmer's market - cacao pod

Not something you’ll see in the supermarket!

At Withrow Park Farmers’ Market, friends and neighbours enjoyed a klezmer duo. At the Davisville Village market, a young woman sang and played guitar. You can check the various market websites to see what the current event is. Or just go with the flow and enjoy a surprise.

There are plenty of ways to satisfy an immediate hunger.

I’ve been tempted by Mnandli Zimbabwian meat pies, that seafood paella, fresh oysters, fresh-baked empanadas and whatever this passing dish at the Withrow Park market was:Farmer's market for seniors - great food

Heading to a farmers’ market as a senior? Do a little homework in advance.

Take cash. Many vendors don’t take credit or debit cards. And the food is definitely more expensive than equivalent supermarket foods. So if you expect to snack, figure about $10 a person or even a little more.

Take patience. Whether you find a TTC route to the market of your choice or drive there, it will take longer than you expected. This is Toronto in construction season.

Parking is hard to find. So while you circle the blocks around the market, it would be a good idea to drop off any seniors who have difficulty walking a good distance. Preferably, have a family member or friend with them. There’s usually a park bench or two in the vicinity of the market.

Watch out for parking restrictions, such as 1-hour limit before 6 p.m. This is what the neighbourhood streets more or less look like:Farmer's market for seniors - crowded parking

There are one or more community market open every day of the week in Toronto. I would double-check day and hours of operation on the actual market’s website, but this Blog TO article is a good place to start.

Visit a neighbourhood farmers’ market soon. Take home some local food. And a bushel full of sweet memories!

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