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Cultivating community at the Erin Farmers' Market (16 photos)

In this Cultivate feature we chat with local farmers and artisans about the commercial and cultural value of community markets such as the Erin Farmers Market

Farmers had been hoping for rain but there were a few that wished it would have held off between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday so they could stay dry during the opening day of the Erin Farmers' Market.

“It’s true and I am a farmer,” said Brittney Livingston, from Calehill Farms and the Erin Farmers Market organizing committee. “We finished bringing in our hay yesterday so, you know what, let it rain, we needed it.”

Livingston was one of about 20 vendors with booths set up in MacMillan Park in downtown Erin Friday afternoon.  

“I help organize the market,” she said. “I’m on the committee and I sell tickets. We have been operating on our own. It used to be under the umbrella of the Agricultural Society, but we have been our own entity for four years now.”

That is about how long Emile Hadi and El D’Almada from Country Crops, garden centre and produce market in Erin, have been bringing their fresh produce to the Erin Farmers Market.

“We have lived in Erin since 1996,” said Hadi. “We get all our produce from Mennonite farmers in Elmira.”

Jean-Francois and Jennifer Morin have been raising chickens, pigs and cattle at their Chickadee Hill Farm on Shaw’s Creek Road in Alton since 2017.

“This is our second year at the Erin Farmers Market,” said Morin. “We have a store front on our farm that is open Saturday and Sunday, but this is a great place to meet new customers and other farmers.”

Lisa and Mary from Missy Li’s Meats and Sweets are regular vendors at many of the local farmers markets including Rockwood Farmers Market, Georgetown Farmers Market, Acton Farmers Market and, of course, Erin Farmers Market.  

“We’ve been coming here for years,” said Lisa. “This is what we do.”

Their large selection of deli meats, baked goods and sweets are just some of the many market attractions for long-time Erin resident, Sue Gilbert.

“It’s a little but grand market,” said Gilbert as Mary handed her one of Missy Li’s famous apple fritters.

Katie and Wallace McDonald operate Credit Valley Farms on the edge of Erin where they grow garlic scapes and other vegetables that they process into products such as garlic butter, pesto and hummus.

“This is our first year at the market,” said Katie. “We are really excited to be a part of it.”

It is Lisa de Kleer’s first year at the Erin Farmers Market as well. She and her husband Dave de Kleer have Barnarrow Farm on County Road 3 in East Garafraxa where they raise chicken and lamb.

“We have been farming for nine years and we raise everything on our farm,” she said. “This is a great way to market, but it is also a great way to meet locals and other farmers.”

Belinda Pronkewich lived in Erin with her family for 10 years before moving to Milton 20 years ago.  It is from her property in Milton that she grows the flowers for her business Wild & Pressed Flowers Co.

“This is our first year at the Erin Farmers Market,” she said. “We would have loved to have this when we lived here.”

Steve and Marie Tedesco operate Coyote Hollow Farms on Wellington Road 124 near Guelph where they use sustainable and organic methods to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables.

“This is our third year at this market,” said Steve. “Aside from selling and showing our products, we make connections in the community. We exchange ideas and engage with all kinds of local people. Just look at the diversity of fresh local products here.”  

That diversity is the strength of markets such as the Erin Farmers Market and that is why lovers of fresh, locally grown and produced food and crafts were not going to let a little rain dampen their enthusiasm.

To learn more about the Erin Farmers Market visit:

“The farmers markets are going to be great this year,” said Livingston. “It’s a safe outdoor venue for families with all kinds of local food and artisans and produce. It is going to be great.  When it doesn’t rain.”