The Women of Leslieville Farmers’ Market: Growing Together

Pictured: The early bustling traffic of customers and vendors at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market at Greenwood Park

By Karina Flores (The Sassy Tomato) 

There’s a diminishing expectation of what food should cost, but not at Leslieville Farmers’ Market. Market regulars and newcomers understand what the true cost of food is – especially the true cost of locally grown and produced food. The Leslieville Market strives to create an environment where local food is accessible and welcomed. It is no surprise that both vendors and returning patrons love this market. It is like a modern-day agora, assembling in celebration of local food and community. The Market is home to many amazing vendors, and some very admirable women farmers and producers, that are worthy of being highlighted and celebrated.

Every Toronto neighbourhood has its own unique vibe and Leslieville has certainly developed a laid-back, family-friendly vibe while balancing nature with a life in the city. The Leslieville Farmers’ Market is an extension of the neighbourhood and reflection of its people and culture. Walking up to the market, you can already sense the positive and joyful community that it creates. It’s almost like a ”market party” or at least it feels like such with the music playing and the energic buzzing you hear from the exchange between vendors and customers in the background. 

Enjoying a Watermelon popsicle from Fresh Pops before starting the market

The Market is welcoming to all – yes, including your furry pups. So, if you love dogs, parties, and food as much as I do, then there’s no reason you won’t have a good time. I’ve been to The Leslieville Market for several years, and they are very diligent in selecting their vendors who adhere to their socially and environmentally-responsible mission. Moreover, they make sure to have a wide breadth of vendors from farmers to food producers, prepared food vendors to Wineries, Breweries, Cideries, and even Kombucha Brewers!

This week’s feature: Stanners Vineyard – Prince Edward County Wines

Pictured: Mary MacDonald along with the featured wines of the day

When people think about wine, they tend to gravitate toward Italian, French, and Californian wines, but what we fail to notice is that our own terroir produces some very admirable wines. “Ontario wines are a hard sell. People are less open to them, and it is certainly an uphill battle”, says Mary MacDonald, one of the owners and founders of Stanners Vineyard. In 2014, Stanners Vineyard started to sell at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market. “It’s a very welcoming environment, keenly supported in eating local,” says Mary. The market is full of curious people, open to trying new things, which has certainly worked well with Stanners to connect with new people and get them open to diversifying their home cellar. 

All their wines celebrate the year and the terroir ( . No year is the same, which makes their wine really something special. Like all farmers, Mary shares that climate change has been a challenge, “People forget that it is farm product,” says Mary. However, they’ve persevered through the challenges and have built a wine that reflects the terroir of each year, instead of trying to manipulate nature.

In the year 2000 there was a brand-new region focus, to make Prince Edward County a wine-region, which really paved the way for Stanners. They acquired the land in 2003, planted the first acre in 2005, and built the winery in 2009. Fast forward to 2022, and Mary MacDonald and Colin Stanners are keen on keeping the winery small at a scale that is manageable. They love sharing their wine, and its reflection of the terroir with people and have them joining in the experience that embodies each bottle. Their “non-interventionist approach has resulted in an elegant, finely detailed Pinot Noir that reflects the County terroir,” said Mary. You can find their Pinot Noir along with their other wine varieties at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market every Sunday, or you can order it on their site as well.

(This is the first post in a series on The Leslieville Farmers’ Market. Next week we will be interviewing Carol from “Hello Batina”)

   Karina Flores<br>
Karina Flores

My name is Karina and I’m an advocate for locally grown food and knowing your farmer. My blog, “The Sassy Tomato” stands for my Latina personality and the importance of fresh and real food. When I’m not cooking or writing, you can find me at a Farmers’ Market or volunteering  at Foragers Farms

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