Calgary has had a long history of being an agricultural city, given its nickname, ‘Cowtown’ and, as evidence of that there are a number of farmers markets, where people have shopped and browsed and sampled the fare and the ware for decades. The Blackfoot Market, for example, has been around since 1976, making it the oldest market running in Calgary today. It is a seasonal market, open from the first of May to the end of October, from Friday through Sunday, and is located at 5600, 11th Street SE. The next oldest farmers market, the Crossroads Farmers Market has been around for over 20 years, and has relocated from its original location on the Transcanada(16th Avenue North), to a reconverted slaughterhouse at 1235 26th Avenue SE. It is one of two markets open year round, and has a number of different venues there, including an art gallery, antiques, collectibles, and more. They too are open Friday through Sunday. Personally, I used to go to the old location of the Crossroads Market, being the closer of the two markets at the time, and even tried going to the new location when it first opened its doors, after extensive renovations were finished. I set foot into what was the main area of the market, inside, and was overwhelmed by a sense of its past incarnation, as a slaughterhouse, with the feeling of death surrounding me. I wound up leaving shortly afterwards, and since then have only been to the outdoor part of the market once with some friends. Obviously there are many people who don’t have the same reaction to being there that I have, since it is quite popular year round, so for those who do not, feel free to wander throughout the market, with its 150 vendors of foods, produce, knick-knacks and collectibles.
Instead, I would go to the Blackfoot Market on occasion during the summertime and, with the opening up of Calgary’s newest year-round market, the Calgary Farmers Market, found myself going there regularly. It is located off Crowchild Trail and Flanders Avenue in what was formerly CFB Calgary, south of 33rd Avenue SW. and, like the Old Strathcona Farmers Market in Edmonton, is producer driven, with a board of directors comprising of a number of the operators there.
Many of the vendors have booths set up at more than one market, for example Simple Simon Pies, so, to make it easier to expand upon some of the veg-friendly vendors and growers available here in Calgary’s markets, I am listing a sample of the ones located at the Calgary Farmers Market, principally because they are open year round, and are centrally located too, for most Calgarians.
CALGARY FARMERS' MARKET
- Open year round
- Winter hours: Friday through Sunday 9am to 5pm, open until 4pm on Sunday; Summer hours: Thursday 10am to 4pm, Friday through Sunday 9am to 5pm, open until 4pm on Sunday
- H6, 4421 Quesnay Wood Drive SW
- (403) 244-4548
This market has only been open since the early part of the century, but has won awards for being the best of its class for markets, and has continued to maintain its popularity, with an excellent cross-section of vendors, selling everything from fresh produce, organic and non, as well as different producers of prepared foods, collectibles, and grooming products. The emphasis here is in showcasing and selling ware that is healthy and natural, as much as possible. Browsing is definitely encouraged, and sampling is ‘de rigeur’!
The vendors here tend to be local growers and sellers, many of them from farms around the Calgary and southern Alberta region. Likewise the booths selling locally made products; some of them are from here in Calgary, but others live and work outside of the city, coming into town to sell their goods.
Brief run down of vegetarian friendly stalls:
- (403) 614-0873
Specialising in prepared foods such as take-home dinners, desserts as well as dips, salsas and antipastos, the vegetarian selections include, Vegetarian entrees such as Eggplant Rollatini(with feta and spinach), Vegetable Lasagna, Vegan Squash Bake and custom made sandwiches.\. They also sell vegetable samosas, a vegetarian antipasto (vegan), along with Artichoke and Jalapeno Dip, Caramelised Onion Dip, Spinach & Horseradish Dip, Spicy Raspberry Salsa (vegan), and a Tomato Salsa (vegan). They do sell Baking Soda Biscuits too.
Their desserts include Fruit Crisps, Rice Pudding, both dairy and dairy-free, and Turtle Cookies.
TWO GREEK GALS
- (403) 617-9124, (403) 619-0299
As indicated, this is Greek food, homemade and delicious! They make everything from Tzatziki and Hummus and Salsa, to a Spicy Olive Spread and Homemade Pita Chips. They also sell stuffed olives, Kalamata Olives, and, for prepared foods, Spanakopita, Vegetarian Pastitsio, Vegetarian Mousaka, along with Fries, Greek Salad (natch!) Latkas and more. As an added plus, they also deliver.
THE STOCK AND SAUCE CO.
- Debbie Catling
- (403) 619-0122
- Kari Faba
- (403) 836-4020
Their product list includes everything from a vegetable stock to dips, soups pasta and sauces and pesto, of which there is a good selection of vegetarian and vegan products. Their dips include an Artichoke Parmesan Dip, Roasted Red Pepper, Eggplant Extravaganza-a variation on Baba Ganouj, as well as Hummus. Their selection of vegetarian soups is quite good, with Carrot Ginger, Minestrone, Roasted Red Pepper and Roasted Tomato & Fresh Basil being featured. Pasta sauces include Artichoke & Olive Marinara, Lemon Peppercorn Alfredo, Tomato & feta, Alfredo, Blue cheese and Hazelnut, Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce, and the Authentic Italian Tomato. They also have a selection of Pesto: Artichoke, Cranberry, Italian Basil, Roasted Red Pepper and Sundried Tomato.
- Aurora and Alexander
- (403) 243-5373
Simply put, their goal is to make, “A high quality and healthy tortilla using the freshest organic and non-organic Canadian ingredients, combined with the traditional Mexican way of making tortillas.” Their tortillas come in 3 sizes, organic, non-organic, regular, 60% whole wheat, 100% whole wheat and spelt.
- Also located at Bankers Hall, Level Plus 30, 315 8th Avenue SW, Calgary
- (403) 266-6567
Their selection of teas is too large to list here; it is best to go online and check the selection there, or to visit them at ether location. Suffice to say, they have black teas, as well s Green Tea, Fruit Infusions, Herbal Infusions, as well as Yerba Mate, Rooibos-South African red bush, Honeybush, and Herbal Blends. They also carry Spice Mixtures for Chai or Punch.
A LADYBUG - BELGIAN SPECIALTIES
- Bakery is located at 510 42nd Avenue SE, Calgary
- (403) 287-1137
A Ladybug, Belgian Specialties is one of the original tenants of the Calgary Farmers Market, and their acclaim has simply grown over that time, baking such fine pastries as they do, and operating a creperie there, while you wait.
Being a Belgian Bakery and Creperie, there is nothing here that is vegan, outside of the Ratatouille filling for their Ratatouille Crepe. All of their baking is however, made using free range eggs, no trans fats, additives or preservatives. They use mostly certified organic flours and ingredients too, with their crepes being made of organic wheat and buckwheat flours. In the interest of preserving the traditional methods of baking the pastries for which Belgium is renowned, butter is also an integral part of the cuisinerie and thus, of the patisserie.
They make sweet buns, different varieties of croissants, including a bleu cheese mini croissant that is simply to die for, brioche, as well as pastries including fruit tarts, éclairs, profiteroles, cremes brulees, baba-rum…. Quiche and more. They also make both dessert and savory crepes, cookies and even homemade chocolate! And for those who wish, they can take home raw, frozen, ready to bake Danish and Croissants, along with par-baked baguettes, either the organic spelt & wheat, or the organic multigrain style. Ladybug also bakes Organic Kamut Bread and Baguette, the dough crafted in time honored ancient fashion, using a sourdough starter and no yeast, filtered water and natural grey sea salt.
I love going there to enjoy a Ratatouille Crepe, before setting out into the market’s friendly crowds, comfortably sated, ambling along stress free and content.
- Brenda Lerner
- (403) 255-4396
Homemade jams and jellies, specialties being berries and currants. All fresh and delicious!
HOMESTYLE BEVERAGES INC.
- Gordo’s Foods, Pearson’s Berry Farm
- Site 24, Box 1, RR#1, Bowden, AB
- Duane and Deb Mertin
- (403) 224-3339
Specialties being juices made from a variety of berries including natural and wildgrown cranberries, Saskatoon berries, raspberries, etc, sold in concentrate form, as well as a variety of lemonades. Through the Gordo’s name they sell sauces and marinades as well as spice blends. From Pearson’s one can buy fruit syrups, and spreads, such as a Saskatoon Berry or Blackberry Spread, perfect for waffles, along with fruitpie filling and more. All of bthese items are sold through the market booth, online, and at the Pearson’s farm, which is also a U-Pick farm, for those who prefer to wander though the fields for the freshest of experiences!
ENDLESS PASTABILITIES INC.
A Pasta and Sauce stand that also sells pizza, the selections for vegetarians is small, with the listing being, Fettuccine with either a Vegetarian Tomato, or an Alfredo Sauce, and a Garden Vegetable filled Cannelloni in a red Cream Sauce. They also sell a Vegetarian, and a Cheese Pizza. Note: There seemed to be more selections for vegetarians here, until I chanced to ask about the veg selections, and discovered that their ‘Marinara’ sauce-the most basic of all Italian sauces-which is typically vegetarian/vegan, contains anchovies. Just a reminder that sometimes foods are not what they first appear to be.
BABY GOURMET FOODS INC.
- Sisters Jennifer Broe and Jill Vos
- (403) 614-9821
Not able to find foods that suited her baby’s needs, foods without preservatives and fillers, Jennifer decided to go into business making her own. They opened up at the market in February 2006 and also have a shop in Lakeview Plaza. Currently, their selections for vegetarians are vegan, those being the Simple Purees, as well as two of the Tasty Combinations, the Fruit Compote and the Banana Fig Oatmeal.
TUTTI FRUTII GELATO
A small, but committed venture to the production of gelato, their products are available only at the market. For now. All of the fruit based gelato and sorbet are vegan, and the flavors are quite intriguing-they even have my fave-Guava!
BLUSH LANE ORGANIC PRODUCE
- Matthew and Erin Paulson, and Ron Horricks
Dedicated to bringing organic produce to Calgary, they provide selections grown in both B.C. and Alberta, claiming to be Alberta’s only certified Organic Retail Outlet. The produce includes fruit and vegetables from B.C., as well as vegetables and herbs from Alberta-Hotchkiss Farms specifically. Hotchkiss Farms is well known for their Heritage (Heirloom?) Tomatoes, and can be reached at www.hotchkissproduce.com
LUND'S ORGANIC FARMS
- Northwest of Innisfail
Lund’s has been certified organic since 1988, and specialises in cold weather crops, such as carrots, beets, spinach, lettuce and a variety of potatoes. At the market you can buy fresh made juices such as carrot and beet, as well as a variety of produce.
A consortium of farmers organized under one umbrella name to facilitate market access, there is a very good selection of produce provided through them, including cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower and broccoli, as well processed foods such as pickles, relishes and dressings (Bradshaw Farm). From another farm, known as “The Jungle” there is a selection of squash, hydroponic lettuces, spinach, potatoes, as well as late-lingering strawberries. And then we have Edgar Farms growing asparagus, peas and beans. For those who would rather take a drive out to the source, these farms offer the opportunity to either pick-your own, or to buy straight off the farm. See the people at the stand for directions.
There are other produce stands here; I chose to highlight a few of them to give one some idea as to what awaits the strolling vegetarians, as they make their way down the aisles, sampling and buying…
As one winds their way through the market, the aroma of fresh foods wafts through their nostrils, and tempts them into stopping, longing for a quick meal, a pie perhaps, or a blintz…some borscht or perogies even. Falafel anyone? While there are a number of stands throughout the aisles of ware, there are also a series of ready to eat foods in the back of the market, where one can select from European, such as the borscht, blintzes and perogies.