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Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market returns to in-person marketplace

Find out what an okonomiyaki or bison pepperettes taste like at this year-round Kingston market

Aerial view of Kingston’s Memorial Centre Farmer’s Market. Photo by Ted Moyes. NOTE: Photos are from the Market prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As travel opportunities have ground to a halt this year, the return of Kingston’s Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market at Kingston Memorial Centre just might be perfectly timed to give residents a sense of normalcy, and a taste of world travel.

Offering okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancakes), churros, tacos, pierogies, curry, dumplings, and steamed buns, as well as fresh produce and crafts from local farmers and artisans, the Memorial Centre Farmers Market has it all.

The huge number of attendees prove the market’s appeal. According to Tim Lyon, a vendor and one of the founding chair board members, over 3,000 people shopped at the market last Sunday, Jun. 6, 2021, just the second Sunday since the Market returned to in-person shopping after the COVID-19 pandemic saw a complete redesign of the Market’s operations to an online ordering format.

Once again, the Market is open year-round on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the summer, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the winter.

Video via the Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market on YouTube.

Where the farmers you meet grow the food you eat

The slogan “Where the farmers you meet grow the food you eat” captures what the market is all about.

“We identified there was a lack of places for farmers to sell [their produce] in Kingston, to create an interface between farmers and clients,” Lyon said of the market’s beginnings in 2013.

“It took off really quickly. People came out right away to attend, [and] it has grown a lot since then.”

All produce in the marketplace is grown by small farms within 100 km of Kingston, and craft items are handmade by the vendors. Currently, the Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market has over 8,000 followers on social media, Lyon said.

A unique marketplace

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake with a special sauce. Photo by Donald Hyatt

Lyon, owner of Main Street Urban Farm, shared that his offering of Japanese okonomiyaki pancakes is unique.

Looking more like a thick pancake than a crepe, an okonomiyaki also has a crosshatch of two sauces—tomato and mayonnaise—on top.

“We’re the only people serving okonomiyaki at a farmers market as far as I know on this side of the country,” he said.

The savoury pancakes are vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, nut-free and dairy-free. “Everybody can eat them,” said Lyon.

Japan inspired Lyon to pursue urban farming after living there for a number of years. “[You] can find farm fields in the centre of cities there, between buildings,” he explained, noting that okonomiyaki restaurants in Japan are “fun places” to go as a group, as the pancakes are cooked in front of diners.

Even though he can’t create the restaurant experience in the farmers’ market, Lyon said that “we do our best and try to make it a fun experience”.

“Little piggy (steamed) buns” from Long Road Eco farms. Website photo

Multicoloured dumplings and bison steak

Other one-of-a-kind items include bison steak and burgers, multicoloured dumplings and pig-shaped steamed buns. 

Vendors include sellers of baked goods, a variety of international hot food items, candles, honey, maple syrup, natural products, fine carpentry, and local fruits and vegetables.

Try a bite of okonomiyaki at the Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market.
Photo by Jolene Simko.

There’s virtually-unlimited parking at the Memorial Centre, with all the necessary amenities available, as well as COVID-19 protocols in place — a one way system, curbside pickup, contactless payment options, and pre-ordering.

“We’re really looking forward to the day when we can have all the other events at the market—yoga, live music, kids area, games and activities. We look forward to that being in place again,” Lyon said.

The Kingston Memorial Centre is located at 303 York Street in downtown Kingston.

For more information, visit https://www.memorialcentrefarmersmarket.ca/

Kingston’s Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market. Photo by Jolene Simko.
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