The Cabbagetown Market – Then & Now
Cabbagetown has a history rooted in food as the heartbeat of the community, dating back to the 1840’s when Irish immigrants settled here after fleeing the potato famine. Always creative, these residents grew cabbages (and other veggies) on their lawns and in open land spaces as essential sources of food. This is how the neighbourhood we know and love came to be called Cabbagetown!
The original farmers’ market, formerly known as the Riverdale Farm Farmers’ Market – was Toronto’s first organic market. It was opened in 2001 by the late, passionate Cabbagetown resident & local food activist, Elizabeth Harris. Thanks to Elizabeth, the original vendors, the Riverdale Farm and the Cabbagetown community – Tuesday’s in the park were always buzzing with market activity and colourful farm fresh goods.
Leading up to its closure the market was caught in a cycle of diminishing patrons and vendors – all of which influenced the decision for closure. After the announcement in 2015, many people were sad to say goodbye. Fortunately, it didn’t stay closed for long. As local food and farm-loving residents we believe that together we can make this ecologically focused farmers’ market vibrant once again. We believe in creating market opportunities for Ontario farmers & food artisans and in ensuring the local neighbourhood has access to a greater variety of sustainably produced food items. Our goal is to learn what food producers and local residents would like to create for this neighbourhood market.
Understanding the Impact of Markets
We recognize that to address the challenges that existed previously, we need both a variety of vendors and committed weekly customers. It takes a great amount of time & energy for vendors to drive an average of 2 hours for the weekly market. We are so thankful they are committed to sustainable practices and to providing us urban dwellers with freshly harvested and produced food items.
Markets are crucial selling spaces for our vendors because direct sales provide a greater return for their labour intensive efforts as they compete with an expanding industrial food system. Markets also contribute positively to community health and the local economy. They provide opportunities for social connection and for us consumers to better understand the diversity of ethical and ecological production practices within Ontario.
As patrons of the market we can make the choice to support farms that sustainably manage the soil, conserve water, and reduce the use of pesticides. Together we can positively impact our local food system. We can do this by respecting the health of ourselves and the environment and ensuring that Ontario food producers have equitable livelihoods. Plus, we get the best added benefit- enjoying the delicious flavours and textures only the freshest ingredients can offer. We are still building many relationships and partnerships within the community. We thank all of the farmers, food producers and market attendees for your support, participation, and your commitment to living local!