The Rise of the Locavore

100 mile diet Kingston, local food movement in Kingston, Local Food - Local ChefsLike many people, each and every year I make a pledge to better myself, and give back to the local community.  This year, I purposely kept my New Year’s resolution to myself. It’s not as though I was ashamed of my master plan for 2010, rather, I feared that if I put it out there, I might not succeed.  You see, for every successful resolution I’ve made, there are at least ten that haven’t quite stuck. Now I’m not saying that communicating my New Year’s resolutions to others has resulted in their failure over the years, but this year I knew that my plans might raise some eyebrows. To clarify, it’s not as though I vowed to take over the world or drown cute little forest critters in 2010.  Instead, I resolved to incorporate more organic foods into my diet, as well as embrace the local food movement.

Terms such as locavore and the 100 mile diet have been around for some time, but they’ve become increasingly popular over the past few years.  The concepts of both are generally the same, as they promote sustainability and environmentalism through a locally sourced diet.  This is where Kingston’s modest size, and our proximity to ripe agricultural areas comes in handy.  To the west communities such as Picton are home to outstanding orchards and vineyards, while there are many farms north of the 401 specializing in everything from beef to pork and poultry.  A bit closer to the city, Wolfe Island’s Pykeview Meadows produces everything bison, Desert Lake Gardens grows organic veggies and the list goes on.

Whether you fancy yourself some honey, cheese, bison burgers, fruits or vegetables, you can get it all during the summer months at Kingston’s Farmers Market.  But what about the rest of the year?  Obviously one of the drawbacks of a locally sourced diet is that one has to eat what’s in season, while foreign produce such as bananas are not offered through our region’s menu.  At this early stage in my resolution, I’m still learning to embrace seasonal variation, and truly appreciate how great it is to eat freshly picked, locally grown blueberries.  That said, there’s nothing wrong with cheating a bit and stowing some berries away in the freezer.  And for the record, I have not given up bananas.

With my resolution in mind, I found it fortunate to discover Kingston’s new Local Food – Local Chefs initiative.  This group is comprised of  the Kingston Farmer’s Market Vendors Association, local restaurateurs, retailers and farmers, whose collective objectives are as follows:

  • To increase sales of local food at the Kingston Farmers Market
  • To increase the number of downtown restaurants and shops featuring local food
  • To build regional market opportunities for the local food industry
  • To develop Kingston as an authentic culinary tourism destination
  • To increase consumer awareness of local foods

The Farmers Market and Fare on the Square are two events that come to mind, which truly embody the core goals of this  group.  Even so, I am looking forward to see how this collective will work to improve and promote the local food movement.

Getting back to my resolution, my biggest challenge thus far has been locating grocery stores and restaurants that cater to locavores.  What’s out there?  Do we have any formal garden sharing networks or community vegetable plots?  Please help further the local food movement by sharing your knowledge and best practices via a comment or two.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

24 thoughts on “The Rise of the Locavore

  • The store on Barrie St is called Old Farm. They just opened up shop a few months ago. They are long-time vendors at the farmers market as well and specialize in heirloom tomatoes and local cheeses. Not to mention their pastry is pretty tasty!

    • Thanks for clearing up that. You're the second person to mention their baked goods. I'll definitely be visiting this place sometime in the near future.

  • Barrie and Clergy is the address. Very nice little shop; some tasty baked good in there too!

  • New place on Barrie Street (near Queen’s), and Bearance's on Union are two pretty decent places for local and organic. I keep meaning to go try out Produce Town, but I'm not sure if they do local.

    • Thanks. I've been meaning to try out the place near Queen’s, and I didn't know that Bearance's was local/organic as well. Back when I did my undergrad I thought it was a general mini-grocery store, similar to John's Deli, etc… Did it change over the past few years?

    • Produce Town is a great little grocery store, and I find that during the high growing seasons, they do have decent local selection. It's slim pickins during the winter, though. But Produce Town is, at least, locally owned, and it's nice to support folks close to home.

  • It's great to see this piece. Supporting local production works on so many levels. Combine it with buying organic, and fair-trade for those things you can only get from further afield, and you have a good part of the recipe for a more ecologically and socially just world.

    You can go even further of course. Wolfe Island (where we live and where we get as much of our food as we can), now has two Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes – Vegetables Unplugged and Van Wagner Farm. CSA commits you to supporting a particular farm over the course of a whole year in return for weekly supplies of produce. It's particularly good because it offers the farmers greater security. You can also grow more of your own, even in tiny spaces in cities. I've always tried to do this, and now we have an acre of our own on the island, we'll be developing a forest-garden over the next few years, which will hopefully grow into a self-sustaining ecosystem of edible, medicinal and otherwise useful mainly local plants from the largest hickories and maples to tiniest herbs and berries. And we'd love to share the experience with others who are doing or want to do the same kind of thing.

    • CSAs. I knew they had to have a cool name. That is a really neat idea, and best of luck with your project. Is there any way for people from "the main land" to get in on the action? Do either of these initiatives have an online presence that provides more info?

  • I couldn’t remember the name of the one on Barrie either so I asked through my status on facebook and the response has been overwhelming from people saying how great it is. But no one can remember what it’s called. Anyone? Something to do with Traditional and Farms…that’s all I’ve got. I’ll have to go tomorrow and check it out myself.

    In addition to grocery stores there are also some great places a little out of town like Garlic Fields – not certified organic, but locally grown garlic and seasonal veggies as well as lots of great homemade food. There’s the Wilton Cheese Factory which is worth the drive just for the curd and Desert Lake Gardens. We’re lucky to be so close to rural towns that supply so much great organic, or at the very least, chemical free, food.

  • The store on Barrie is called 'Old Farm' and you can find them at the Farmer's Market behind City Hall or on campus at Queen's when the market is there. I forgot to mention their dips, they are quite tasty as well!

    To go with the CSAs I believe they have a couple drop-off points once a week in the city for people to pick up their produce (depends on the particular CSA). Some also give you the option to work on the farm once a week, allowing you to pay less money for your food.

  • That is true. There are a fair number of people simply performing resale of produce at the farmers market… it is fairly easy to pick them out as bananas and limes aren't exactly plentiful in our area. Just ask the seller if you aren't sure, they will tell you where the goods are from. The number of local and organic farmers seems to be on the rise in recent years though.

    There is indeed another market planned for the east end of town next year. Keep your eyes and ears open for details.

  • Root Radical is a CSA on Howe Island as well. Now, something to keep in mind about the downtown Farmer's Market: not all of the produce that you see there is local. There have been a growing number of vendors importing produce to various farmer's markets and that's spawned things like the one in the West End of town: local only. I understand that another is planned for the former Pittsburg Township area as well. If you don't produce it, you can't sell it.

    • The Landsdowne Farmers' Market in Ottawa had a local-only rule when it started in 2006 and has kept it up ever since–it's one of the things I miss most about that town. It would be great to see the Kingston market do the same thing.

  • I'm happy to see so many people mention Old Farm Foods on Barrie St. In the fall, I often passed it on my way home from work, and it was like getting to go to the Farmers Market every day. Their heirloom tomatoes, squash, potatoes and apples brought a little joy to my day!

    They make fresh soups and baking, and also carry local meats and cheeses at fair prices. I'm selfishly invested in the store's success, I want to be able to enjoy Ontario's bounty on my walk home from work this fall as well!

  • Coming a little late to this discussion, but I'm sitting here eating some tasty scrambled eggs purchased at the Old Farm shop on Barrie Street, and laid by happy chickens at Reinik Family Farms, so I thought I would add a plug for them, and for the CSA we have been for a number of years now, Roots Down Organic Farm run by Jeff and Sue Klug, just outside of Gan. We are definitely signing up for a 2010 share.

  • I have to put in a good word for John's Deli, at Princess and Chatham. While not all the produce is local, quite a bit of it is, including local hothouse goods. I think a lot of the meat is sourced locally as well.

    • Visited John's for the first time in a long time today. It has changed considerably since my University days, and looks considerably more polished than ever before. Having said that, they've still retained a lot of their charm and the prices have not inflated as a result of the face lift.

      • Johns was shut for awhile about 5-6 years back I think. The apartments above caught fire and there was extensive fire damage. The remodel/insurance must have been difficult, as they didn't reopen for at least a year. As you said, the place still maintains it's charm and has a great selection of meat at very good prices. Love the place, and wish I got there more often.

        • The fire was back in 2004ish. I remember the evening well as we awoke to firetrucks racing down the street and glow just over the building next to ours. The next day we surveyed the damage and were mortified to find that John's had been so heavily damaged. In some ways we had hoped that it was King of Donairs…no one ever went to that place.

  • I live within short walking distance from John's and have really enjoyed watching it grow and improve. The new owners are great, open to suggestion and very friendly. I'm on a first name basis with most of the staff and we have an ongoing dialogue about what they are stocking, what I'm excited they have (Meyer Lemons!) what they are trying out. The meat is amazing, most of it local and although not all their produce is local they are improving on it every year. They also have a bulk food section which seems to be rare in Ontario. The store is definitely one of the reasons I love Kingston and very much contributes to my quality of life in the city.

  • Thanks for promoting local food. We’re hard working-farmers with a CSA in Battersea. Check out I’d like to draw your attention to a first-time event that I’m involved with taking place on September 19th, called Open Farms. Open Farms is essentially a stuido-tour of Farms! With over 30 involved this year, it is sure to be a great event and a great way to source local food. All of these farms sell at farm gate. There are herb, dairy, meat, veggie, fruit honey and egg farms involved. The web site should be up and running by August 20th. There you can see which farms are participating and be able to download a map, or tour route. Should be fun! And…tasty!

  • Why people still make use of to read news papers when in this technological
    world all is existing on net?

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