Vendors from Throughout the Region Offer Quality and Variety
Yvonne Van De Wiele-Cooper
If you ask for Carl of Carl’s Choice Meats at the Brantford Farmers Market, they’ll tell you he’s retired. “Carl hasn’t put on an apron for a few years now,” says one young woman serving behind the counter on a recent Saturday morning. But the tradition of producing quality meat products for area customers continues.
Son, Eric Norg now runs the Brant County business, which has had a stall at the market for 34 years now. They sell quality meat products year-round and have the items people traditionally want at Christmas. “We sell fresh turkeys and fresh hams, all specialty items for customers to make them happy and smile,” said Norg.
And he says along with fresh products, customer service is one of the key ingredients throughout the market. “It’s customers coming in, getting looked after, respected and getting what they require, the way they require it,” he said.
Norg says the quality and service keeps them coming back. “We have lots of new customers who come into the market and we have lots of customers who come back and enjoy our service and our products all the time – generations,” he said.
Norg also stressess people need to pre order to avoid disappointment. “It gets extremely busy here at Christmas, one of the highlights of the year,” he says.
The Serendipity by Crafty stall has been providing homemade baby clothes, knitted and crocheted toys and other items for over a decade. It’s operated by Bob and Nancy Gibson and although Nancy has been dealing with health issues for the past year, she is again contributing to the ‘crafty’ items that have become so popular.
Bob Gibson says a lot of people like to buy their hand towels, handmade scrubbies and dish clothes as gifts this time of year. “Somebody was here last week from England and they were taking them back in their suitcase because they’re light,” he said.
Although Nancy’s prolific needlework makes up a large part of the merchandise, friend Sheila Hawke makes all of the doll clothes for American Girl dolls.
Meantime, Nancy is known for her handmade baby items, including blankets and hats. “I just sold a hat this morning for a “preemie” that was born, because they were looking for a pink hat and she (Nancy) just made one yesterday,” said Gibson.
It all began for the retired couple in their seventies as a hobby, before evolving into a business at the market. “It keeps you going because if you didn’t have this, you’d just be home watching TV or something,” he laughed.
Hagersville resident Danny Prowse has operated Herbs and Things at the Brantford Market for nearly 16 years. And it seems they offer as many “things” as it does herbs, including eggs, milk and organic milk.
The milk comes from Hewitt’s Dairy in Hagersville, as well as Harmony dairy in Toronto. Hewitt’s holiday ice cream flavours at Herbs and Things include peppermint stick, eggnog, rum and raisin, and Christmas pudding.
But as the name suggests, it all started for Prowse and his late wife Darlene with herbs and spices from around the world. Fresh thyme, rosemary and cumin as well as pepper varieties including red, black, green and orange are all available at Herbs and Things.
Prowse buys his herbs and spices from a global importer. “People tell me that I’ve got the best spices in town,” he said.
He also has breads and two different types of pretzels as well as preserves, “made the old fashioned way” by members of the Mennonite community in Ayr.
Pete’s Bake Shop offers traditional Dutch pastries and desserts, including their popular giant Speculaas cookies.
Judith Piets who works behind the market counter at Pete’s, says they have a “really good” Christmas cake which freezes well. “We have really nice strudels, vanilla slices, sausage rolls, squares, tarts, and really good cookies,” she said. They’re all made by Pete himself at his bakery in Burgesville.
There is also fruit cake, rum balls, almond filled raisin bread, stollen which is a fruit bread containing almond paste with icing sugar, pies, muffins and other typical Dutch fare like; almond filled turnovers, almond filled ginger bread, and almond sticks.
Piets admits the Dutch love almonds. “We don’t grow them, but we do love them,” she said.
The Brantford Farmers’ Market at 79 Icomm Drive in Brantford features a huge variety of produce, cheese, meats and crafts to suit every taste.
They’re open each Friday from 9am to 5pm and Saturday from 7am until 2pm and this year, because Christmas falls on a Wednesday, they’ll also be open on Christmas Eve Tuesday, from 7am until noon. Ordering in advance at this busy time of year is strongly advised.
For more info, check out www.brantfordfarmersmarket.ca.