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Jul 8, 2009 08:09 PM

Calgary's Smaller Farmers Markets & the Treasures

I just spend some time in the hail and rain in Hillhursts Outdoor Wed night farmers market and it was wonderful!

Don't get me wrong I love The Calgary Farmers Market, but really do we need to buy TEXAS WATERMELLONS in Calgary in JULY??? I find the over whelming amount of US / Mexican produce in a farmers markets really tacky. and sad. I know Alberta doesn't have a great growing season but at least we should be enjoying the bounty of our neighbouring province.

Anyway, bad weather aside I got a lot of great shopping done and met some wonderful farmers, yes real farmer not produce kids hawking Washington peaches.

Last year the market was closed, and this year after much stink, it has re opened and as the season matures I look forward to the bounty of this quant little community market.

I met the grower / butcher from Sprag's Natural Meats and was delighted to hear how he raises his pigs and processes them him self weekly! The bakery bounty was amazing, as was the BC produce. There was a lovely plant farmer there too with great greens!

I wish Calgary had more of these smaller markets to enjoy... and maybe a little P&S coffee to go along with the experience!

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  1. You'll be half a block from P&S soon enough!

    Thanks for the reminder about Hillhurst- I keep forgetting to check it you- when does it run until?

    13 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo

      I believe the market runs through Mid September, every Wed. night from 3:30-7:30,

      As for P&S :( I am selling up and moving to BC.... a quick jump to Oso Negro through which is my consolation. So I won't be in the loop to enjoy :(

      1. re: CookieGal

        Will there still be cookies there?

        1. re: John Manzo

          Yes I hope so! I am selling both companies right now, just looking for the right fit, otherwise my family may keep on running the store, and I will just sell the other brand. I am hopeful that the right foodie buys the store and improves it even more! And they will get to enjoy a P&S coffee each day.

          1. re: CookieGal

            CookieGal, What business are you selling?

              1. re: CookieGal

                Where is the Hillhurst market located specifically?

                And I totally agree about the out of country produce at The Calgary Farmer's Market.

                  1. re: cancowboy

                    Thanks :) Looking forward to going! Gonna head there tonight

                1. re: CookieGal

                  CookieGal: Pure Indulgent Foods is your company!? I love the Cranberry Almond Flats!

                  <<btw the link to pure indulgent didn't work for me as written did though >>

                  1. re: maplesugar

                    Thanks Maplesugar!

                    Pure is me yes.. well not for long! I am selling up and moving away soon. No more food business for me.. but I am going to try my hand at organic farming.. and raising sheep. in hopes of learning how to make cheese!

                    1. re: CookieGal

                      How exciting! Where are you planning to locate (here's hoping you're somewhere nearby yours truly in Sylvan Lake) :)

                      1. re: maplesugar

                        off to slocan valley BC... in search of a longer growing season and a slower pace of life!

                        alas leaving the oil Provence behind! but have no fears both business will be in great hands and the rosemary cran flats will still be made with love for you to enjoy!

                        I was up through Sylvan lake a few weeks ago (staying more north near pigeon lake) Have you ventured up that way? I Enjoyed two great meals at Eco Cafe (chow rec!)in pigeon lake village.. not to far from you!

                        1. re: CookieGal

                          Our loss is Slocan Valley's gain I guess. Best of luck with your new venture :)

                          Haven't been out to Pigeon Lake in awhile now. I'll have to add Eco Cafe to my list of places to try though. Thanks.

      2. Large watermelons are very hard to grow even in BC. They need a very long growing season and extremely hot days with little heat unit loss during the night.

        Getting local/BC watermelon in July is impossible. Wait until late August or even later. I know there's a vendor at CFM that sells local watermelon. However, this season has been very poor for such fruit.

        1. I usually miss the weeknight markets but managed to get to the Northland Mall/Grassroots Maket today. Picked up some wonderful apricots from Blush Lane($6), some sweet shelled peas($3/bag...probably 1.5 cups) from a produce vendor whose name escapes me (down the way from Blush) and some soft pretzels from a German family bakery by the name of Crusty Bread Farm Ltd. (on a non-food note there was also a plant guy selling off his stock, I picked up a huge planter for $20...much better than I would have done even at home depot)

          1. I too met up with Spragg meats and if you buy anything it has to be the Farmer's Sausage. I have been frying it up and just snacking on it plain ever since I bought it. It is amazing!

            It is great to support such great local produce and even better when it is as great as it is!

            7 Replies
            1. re: Foodie149

              has anyone checked out the 'Green Market' that is supposedly on Stephen Ave on Thursday's? I've only seen the mention of it on, wondering if it is worth checking out and how the prices are.

              1. re: bitsandbytes

                So I personally was not overwhelmingly impressed with the Hillhurst market. I was looking forward to the Spragg pork farmers but they were not there. There were only about 10 booths and a few of them were crafts. Those which did have produce were few and one of them relied heavily on out of country produce (plums from California and oranges from Peru). Maybe I went on an off day though and some usual vendors were not in attendance...

                1. re: Foodie149


                  It's really a sad story infact, I had such high hopes and the season started off strong, but the lack of community support and the lack of advertising, which in turn = lack of vendors willing to hang out in an empty parking lot for 4 hours.

                  I think that the year of no market in this community has really impacted what was a really vital and thriving place to be. I have spoken with 100's of people down there and everyone just keeps saying " i had no idea the market was back" or "i keep forgetting"etc... there is just not enough shoppers to make it a success!

                  Foodie149 I agree completely the last few weeks have been really lacking in good local and especially ORGANIC produce. Spragg meats pulled out after two weeks, and many others including myself will not be there for the rest of the season, sadly. BUT if there is one thing worth making the trip there for it's for a stunning loaf of bread from Peasent Breads, Aviv is a truly talented baker, who is humble and donates a lot of proceeds to charity!

                  Re: Grassroots at Northland it's a thriving fun market where one can buy most of their weekly groceries, including a wonderful local free range all natural buffalo direct from the rancher, Blush lane who is the only organic vendor I have found in my summer tour de markets, the Hutterites have great cheese down there, and Tim's gourmet pizza's are FAB! and his Gluten free crust is simply to doe for! Also I have really enjoyed some fair trade coffee beans (the brand escapes me)

                  Another really great Market is Cochrane on Saturday mornings or Bearspaw on Sunday mornings.

                  P.S. Shazam>>> I guess my though is that we really don't need to be eating large watermelon in June or July... or even August if it means it has to travel thousands of KM to get to us!

                  1. re: CookieGal

                    The one bright spot at Hillhurst imho is Aviv's stand: I picked up a stunning & delicious blueberry tart a few weeks ago at Hillhurst - the bread was polished off before we made it home...the tart well... lasted maybe one day longer because I was full of bread lol. More on his work on alau's blog:

                    A pic of the tart:

                    1. re: maplesugar

                      Foodie 149, If you were from Texas you would have been thrilled to a Hempstead, Texas watermelon. distance or not. Most of Calgary eats produce from Mexico all year. And they certainly get the underwear in a knot waiting for BC produce. I threw out tasteless BC produce most of July and August. I compared organic California strawberries to BC one weekend, which, Blush lane carried and hid behind their cash registers because they were priced 3 -16oz boxes for $10 at the height of BC strawberry season. The BC were sold $5. a box and so I had Walker's weigh them , the scale showed less than a pound in the carton! Why do we encourage them by buying. Peaches from Washington State are juicy and sweet for the past two weeks , but not a farmers market. I realize it has been a late harvest, but why spend good money and encourage them.

                      1. re: picardsvintagelady

                        "I realize it has been a late harvest, but why spend good money and encourage them." - what do you mean by that? why encourage and support local farmers?

                        1. re: picardsvintagelady

                          We don't even get the good produce that the US grows. My last trip to California, I had huge peaches that were so juicy that they'd simply explode when you bit into them.