Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Opawa Farmers Market ~ a fun foodie outing

I've been to the Opawa / St Martin's Farmers Market twice and enjoyed it both times.   The market was busy, stalls were interesting and vendors happy to chat about their products.  The focus is on organically grown and sourced food and there are some interesting choices for those shopping for gluten free and vegan products.  Quite by chance I discovered that it is entirely vegetarian, which suits me perfectly.  This is my kind of scene: local people producing quality products and selling them with cheer and enthusiasm.  There was a good atmosphere.  

The market is in a rather out of the way place, right at the end of Fifield Terrace in Opawa between the Steiner school and the Helios Medical Centre.  The entrance is through the Helios car park.  Go past the back of Helios and you will find the first avenue of stalls:

A polite sign indicates that dogs are required to wait outside the market:

Biking is a popular form of transport for market-goers:

There was lots of lovely fresh produce...

...but perhaps because I grow most of my own vegetables my focus was more on other sorts of food:

I bought a mushroom farm in a bucket!  What a wonderful idea!

The seller informed me that each bucket is likely to produce mushrooms for three months if it has the right amount of moisture and warmth; mushrooms grow best in an even temperature between 18 to 20 degrees Celsius, and spraying the surface of the earth once a day is recommended.

You too can buy your bucket: here is their website:
These loaves of bread in their woven baskets looked appetising:

This stall stocked an interesting range of food from pesto to tonic drinks:

I enjoyed the stories and information exchanged when I stopped to chat.

At a nearby stand of a large range of 'Papa's' cordials and jams was laid out. I had a nice chat with the vendor, Paddy, who was enthusiastically offered the crowd samples of his juice concentrates and cordials.

They were delicious, so if you have the opportunity to sample these products I encourage you to take it!  Being mindful of my budget I purchased only one item, a bottle of Papa's elderberry concentrate.  I like it best with warm water which makes it taste rather like mulled wine.

Elderberry is known to have anti-viral properties, which I had already heard from James Wong, ethnobotanist, on his show 'Grow your own drugs'. ('Drugs' meaning remedies and medicines!)

Here are 'Papa's' jams, jellies and mustard: 

You can find out more here:
Paddy mentioned that a relation of his is involved in the business Aroha Drinks, which looks like a good wholesome range of products.

I liked this colourful stand selling free range eggs:

Down at the far end of the market, a group of bee keepers had a display of bees and their hive.  There was a mass of bees inside this frame and their queen could be seen at the centre of it:

The bees build up their honeycomb on sheets of specially formed plastic, depositing their wax on the shapes provided:

This one has been very comprehensively built up with wax and still contains some honey:

The sign next to their display outlines why we all need to consider bees and 'be good to bees':

The work bees do pollinating flowers while gathering their own food is an essential part of our own farming and food production as well as worldwide ecosystems generally.  
You can read more about bees and their crucial role here:
Take a break from shopping and have some hot soup - that sounds good!

The food we bought from The Sweetheart Bakery stood out: on the first occasion we visited the market it was the last stall we stopped at; on our second visit it was the first!  The baked goods we bought there were so good that I have written a separate article about them:

No market is complete without flowers!  Aren't these glorious!

On both outings a good time was had by all - I highly recommend it.

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