Alongside the ever-present giants like St. Jacob’s and Kitchener’s Farmer’s’ Markets, smaller farmers’ markets across the city where food providers set up shop. Vendors also share information about their products and interests with their clients. At the Mary Allen Farmer’s Market, which runs 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. every Thursday, community members can buy groceries from Waterloo Region based growers and food creators.
“I have been organic farming for five years. I’ve been in agriculture for about seven years. My background is greenhouse growing. And yeah, this is the first year of the cabbage patch,” Felix Pozojevic, owner and operator of The Cabbage Patch farm, said.
They are first-generation farmer who is extremely passionate about tackling food security in a sustainable way. While they faced some challenges in their first year, they find the ability to share the fruits—and vegetables—of their labour with the community at large very rewarding. Pozojevic is advocating for more awareness of where food comes from and how diet impacts the environment. They have a goal of changing the way people eat one plate at a time.
“You know, I think at least for me, growing up, I will go into grocery stores, [and think] this is what I usually eat, and I can eat this all year round, and I can always find it all year round, and that’s it. But then when I started farming, I realized that that in itself was unsustainable, right, like meals, we should kind of go with seasons and what’s available. So, what I do is I just try to change people’s diets slowly,” Pozojevic said.
The Cabbage Patch Farm offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program for their patrons. By buying a share of their farm, members are able to access a wide variety of fresh, seasonal vegetables that were grown in Waterloo. The farm space is currently operating on half an acre of growing space, naturally watered and completely organic.
In addition to fresh produce, Mary Allen market patrons are also able to purchase delicious home-made bread and pastries from Palmer’s Bakery.
“I’ve always loved baking as a kid, my mom used to always make fun of me because I would join sports teams just to make cookies,” Hayley Turnbull, owner and baker of Palmer’s Bakery, said.
Turnbull specializes in baking sourdough breads, pastries, cookies and other baked treats. The delivery-based bakery has been around since 2017 and has had stalls in farmer’s’ markets around the region. Customers can place their orders online and then their fresh baked goods will be delivered to them on Saturdays between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
Turnbull makes use of classic technique, modern innovation and attention to detail in order to produce the best baked goods she can. She has worked in restaurants, bakeries and hotels with her fiery passion for sharing her love of food.
“I think it’s nice just to support other people in your community, regardless of whether it’s food or anything else. It’s just important to develop that community spirit. I think supporting local vendors and local creators is always a wonderful thing. I think it’s nice knowing where your food comes from, because you’re consuming it like for sure part of you. So, it’s nice to know who made it and whose hands touched it and how it was grown, how it was created,” Turnbull said.
Below are some ways you can support Waterloo Region’s local food economy.
KWNow provides a database of local food producers in the area where you can find lists based on item type or requirements like “without antibiotics”.
The Waterloo Region Community Garden Network is a local organization whose mission is to promote and assist with the sustainability of community gardens throughout Waterloo Region. On their site you can find more information about volunteering at community gardens or starting your own.
Eating at independent restaurants is great for the local economy and be sure to look for restaurants working with local ingredients.
Farmers markets, including the Kitchener Market and the St. Jacobs Farmer’s Market, are great ways to find local produce and support other small businesses in the community.
EcoKW provides a list of ways to get involved with local food in Waterloo region including organizations to volunteer with and support.
The Indigenous Food Sovereignty Collective is an organization looking to grow indigenous food sovereignty in the region by producing food through traditional means, facilitating grocery supplements and meals for those in need, and restoring the land through the growth of traditional Indigenous plants.