Brantford Farmers’ Market offers one stop Christmas shopping

By: Yvonne Van De Wiele-Cooper

Photo by: Jason Freeze

Whether it’s turkey, baked goods, pre-cut produce or specialty items, chances are they’ve got it at the Brantford Farmer’s Market. And if you need it for the holidays, it’s best to think about ordering in advance.

“Everybody likes fresh buns for their holidays and definitely, placing an order is always in your best interest,” says Susan Meyhack-Ecker of Harmony Bakery. For breads and buns, a couple of days advance notice will do, but for cakes and pastries, three to four days is recommended.

Simcoe based Harmony Bakery, has operated a stall at the Brantford Farmer’s Market for 23 years. Among their more popular items are the “famous” potato buns, raisin bread, celery bread, Danish pastry and turnovers made from fresh puff dough in the store. “The Brantford community has been very supportive of us here at the market says Mayhack-Ecker.”

Photo by: Jason Freeze

Joan Hendershot of Bowman’s Produce says they get a lot of advance orders leading up to the holidays. “At Christmas we get orders, especially for the chopped turnip, squash, coleslaw and things that no one really wants to do anymore,” she said. Hendershot says it’s best to order prepared produce a few weeks in advance, but some order as early as December 1st. They just want to make sure they get it in and then it’s off their worry list and on mine,” she laughed.

Bowman’s tries to buy as much from local farmers as possible and also from the Toronto food terminal. She stresses however, “I’m not going to buy it from Toronto if I can buy it at home.” Carrots, potatoes, parsnips, turnips and other root vegetables as well as cabbage are available all winter at Bowman’s. Another popular Christmas item they offer is fruit baskets, in a variety of sizes starting at around $35 for an eight litre basket and up. “It’s a good deal and a lot of people don’t know what to get someone,” she said. Hendershot advises giving fruit baskets the week before Christmas, so people know they don’t need to shop for those items and “wind up having way too much.”

Photo by: Jason Freeze

“The market is a place where people like to come and visit, where they see their neighbour or their friend that they haven’t seen for ages, so it’s kind of a big social event, as well as getting good quality products,” she said.

As the name of their business implies, Lynne Roberts and husband David Parkin offer “Nature’s Best” including locally sourced honey, maple syrup and preserves. After operating a stall outside for a time, Nature’s Best marks their first Christmas season inside the market building.

They feature honey from Sundreland Honey northeast of Guelph, as well as some from the Brantford area. There’s also a popular honey imported from Cuba.

Photo by: Jason Freeze

The maple syrup, always a big gift item from Canada, is produced by the local Mennonite community. It comes in various sizes and includes smaller plastic containers, which are easier for shipping. “One lady buys two cases every year and she takes them overseas,” said Roberts. They also offer jams and preserves, all from Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Chris has worked at the market for 12 years, helping out various vendors. This season, she’s behind the counter at Garlic King, where she hands out tasty samples of garlic bread promoting the company’s main seller.

The Waterloo based company grows its own garlic and produces a popular spread and salad dressing. The spread can last six weeks in the refrigerator, longer in the freezer and it has a variety of uses. “One man says he melts it on his popcorn and says he’s never had anything better,” said Chris.

Photo by: Jason Freeze

Market manager Bruce Jacobson points out, fresh turkeys with a best before date lasting “way past Christmas” can be picked up on the Saturday before the big day, which lands on a Tuesday this year.

With plenty of fresh local produce, meats, baked goods, gift items and more, Jacobson’s main message is simply; “Come on down and buy local.”

The Brantford Farmer’s Market at 79 Icomm Drive, operates Fridays from 9 a.m. till 5p.m Saturdays 7 a.m. till 2p.m.