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Jul 20, 2008 01:28 PM

Farmer's Markets-Edmonton Area

I know the first place everyone will mention is the Strathcona Market, but to be honest, my husband and I can't stand it. We've been there several times, each time thinking maybe we'll have a better experience than the last. But even if we get there right at 8am, its already so crowded we can't stop to look at anything without getting shoved around and pushed constantly. Not a fun experience! Not to mention the terribly overpriced produce.
My question is, are there any other farmer's markets around the city, or surrounding area, which are any good? I've heard about the one in the Capilano Mall but have never been there. I've also heard of Kuhlmans as well. Maybe I've been spoiled having grown up in Florida with tons of outdoor markets brimming with local produce to choose from, but I'd like to see what Canada has to offer too!

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  1. Strathcona is my favorite, but I haven't been to the one in Callingwood, though heard it is quite good.

    Regarding your criticisms of Strathcona Market, I agree with you on the crowd problem. There seem to be people there who feel it is their right to just barge in and get whatever they want, not paying attention to the fact that others were there first. Seems to be worst at Gull Valley (tomatoes) and Sunworks (meat).

    As for it being overpriced, well, this isn't Florida, so the vendors here have to make a living in the short growing season they have. And honestly, I don't find it overpriced when compared to the flavourless crap available in grocery stores - quite likely the same stuff you could have bought in Florida, but shipped here! Yes, it is more expensive than chain store food (usually) but it is also far superior. $3.50 /lb for tomatoes that are really good, vs $1 /lb for hard, dry flavourless ones...$2 for a red pepper from Doefs that is sweet, juicy, crisp vs a wrinkled or dry, boring red pepper in comparison in my books.

    I don't think you will find that any of the other markets are less expensive, but I do think you get what you pay for. This ain't Florida, the land of the sun (and subsidies?).

    1. Surrounding areas? St. Albert is huge and supposed to be worth the trip, though I've never been. Callingwood is definitely less hectic, and last I checked had an evening market during the week. I would also expect to find the highest prices at Scona since I assume the vendors have to pay a premium for space there.

      I don't find market quality to be that much higher than a selective shopper can find at a grocery store either but enjoy being able to chat with vendors about how things are grown, when they were harvested, and recipe ideas. If the market is too busy then you don't have that chance.

      3 Replies
      1. re: pepper_mil

        St. Albert market is just as busy as the Strathcona one, maybe even worse. Huge crowds, many 'just looking'. And from what I remember (haven't been in a few years) the only vendors I ended up buying from were the biggies at Strath anyway.

        Downtown Edmonton market was less busy the one time I went, but other than Greens Eggs and Ham, and a really good bread maker, there was nothing that inspired me to go back. Again, similar prices and even many of the same vendors (Doefs, Gull Valley, one of the same BC fruit people, etc).

        As for quality of produce, pepper mil, you must have a better store near you than I do! If you can buy tomatos as good as the ones at Gull Valley, or cucumbers equal to Doefs (and not coated in wax), you are very lucky. Or the variety of potatos...or the nantes carrots...

        1. re: Dan G

          I've been to the downtown one twice this summer and it's a lot more crowded than last year. They seem to have increased the amount of food vendors as well. I fell in love with the jam from The Jam Lady last year.

          Once nice thing about St. Albert and the downtown markets is that they're outside and on a sunny day they're good for wandering. The St. Albert market is spaced out well along the road and the downtown one still has some maneuvering room. I find the Strathcona one is very limited in that their aisles can only be so wide.

          1. re: anonymoose

            greed, anonymoose. i was at the st albert market last week kinda late - noonish, and crowds were not bad and the only thing i noticed vendors had run out of was rosemary plants (they had signs up). i enjoyed it much more than strathcona - the crowding gets to me too.

      2. There is an open market downtown too. It's alright they have more unusual things like a frozen fish monger and bedding plant people. But yeah Edmonton vs Florida is a big difference we have winter a good 6 months of the year, so with our short growing seasons I think the price they ask for most of their produce is reasonable.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bryn

          Thanks for the replies everyone! I know Florida and Canada are two vastly different places, and its taking a little time for me to adjust to the differences. The market in St. Albert sounds more like the kind of place I'm looking for, at least its out doors, not inside a cramped building. Maybe I'll have to go check it out soon, and get there early just in case there are crowds :)

          1. re: Cat Berner

            Don't go too early - it doesn't open until 10 (which, for me, is far too late...I'm one of those who is at Strathcona while people are still unpacking!).

        2. There is a market on the south side named Century Park Market that just opened last year. It's still a small market with small crowds, however, the vendors have excellent fare. The nice part about this new market (along with the great product) is the positive spirit and laughter that can be heard on any given day. It's at the end of the LRT line at Century Park and is also accessible from the many bike paths and lanes that lead there. If you're tired of crowds and want to shop some quality product, maybe give this little market a shot.