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Church starts farmers’ market in King City

Sarah Strang, holding her son, sells produce from her stall at the King City Farmers’ Market, located at All Saints, King City. Photos by Michael Hudson

By Tanya Baleta

It wasn’t hard to find the Rev. Nicola Skinner at the King City Farmers’ Market on Aug. 22. Chalice in hand, the incumbent of All Saints, King City, made her way from vendor to vendor, offering communion after the 8 a.m. service.

Around her, a steady stream of visitors made their way through the market. On nearby Keele Street, a group of cyclists slowed down as they rode past the church. “It’s a farmer’s market,” said one to another.

The church began offering King City’s only farmers’ market on June 16. The market takes place in the church’s parking lot every other Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Oct. 20. It has up to 100 visitors on a Sunday.

“We want the church to be a welcoming sign of God’s love in the community,” said Ms. Skinner. “We’re also thinking about the Earth. God provides all this bounty for us. So this is our little contribution towards eating well and looking after the Earth.”

The market aims to support the 100-mile diet movement, in an attempt to provide healthy foods while supporting local farmers and businesses, she said.

Janet Rodger sells items at the church’s baked goods stall.

The idea was suggested by a parishioner’s son, who pointed out King City’s lack of a farmers’ market. “His mother mentioned it to me and it was like a light bulb went off,” said Ms. Skinner. “So we talked to people in the township, and we talked to councillors and the mayor. Everyone agreed it would be great for the community.”

In addition to hosting 11 vendors, All Saints operates a baked goods stall. Janet Rodger, a market manager and professional chef, has taken responsibility for the stall, preparing pies, cookies, brownies and tarts.

Ms. Rodger said she baked 15 pies for the first market in June. “I was worried they wouldn’t all sell, but they sold out in no time,” she said. “Now I’m up to 40 pies at each market.”

According to Ms. Rodger, the first year is always the hardest for a farmers’ market. “We’re committed to another couple of years and I think it will work. Our market may be small but we have good quality vendors and it will grow organically because of that.”

The market has already seen steady growth, with the number of vendors having risen from five to 12.

The market features handmade buffalo milk soaps, local honey, organic fruits and vegetables, gluten-free baked goods and herbal teas. A barbecue stall offers peameal bacon, hamburgers and sausages.

Jules Carcone sells rustic breads and baked goods.

Jules Carcone of Rustic Breads has been selling her artisan breads at the market since June. According to Ms. Carcone, the market fills a void in King City. “There wasn’t anywhere to buy fresh produce and food in King City,” she said. “It also builds a great sense of community. If you look around here today, everyone is chatting. It’s a very different experience than you would have at a supermarket where nobody talks to each other. Being at the market is my favourite part of the whole process.”

Ms. Rodger agreed. “There are a lot of new people moving to King City and we want to have a central place like this that reaches out to them,” she said. “The goal is to bring the community together.”

The King City Farmers’ Market takes place on the following dates: Sept. 8, Sept. 22 and Oct. 6 and Oct. 20.  The church is located at 12935 Keele St., north of Toronto.

And there’s a Toronto market, too
Can’t make it out of the city to get to the King City Farmers’ Market? St. George the Martyr, located in the heart of downtown Toronto, hosts the John Street Farmers’ Market every Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. until the end of October. The market, held on the church grounds, features locally produced food and goods, a cafe in the courtyard and a children’s section with arts and crafts. The church is located just north of Queen Street and south of the Art Gallery of Ontario. To drum up interest, church administrator Rene Ng hands out hors d’oeuvre and flyers to pedestrians on Queen Street on Wednesday evenings. “We get a great response to that,” he says. The market has been going for two years and needs patrons, he says.