In 1968, the Burlington Mall opened its doors for the first time. Residents and visitors flocked to the new mall and the Burlington Lions Club took notice. By that time, the Lions had operated a Farmers Market in town for almost a decade. After seeing the mall’s success, the Lions decided to capitalize on the new concentration of shoppers by moving their market to the mall parking lot.
Today, the market is still thriving at the mall thanks in part to some vendors who
have been setting up their stalls, three days a week, for decades.
On our market adventure, we met Paul Hanson who helps manage the market for the Burlington Lions Club. “This market has been around so long because of the support we get from the people of Burlington,” he told me. “The variety of items available here is tremendous. Local produce, meat and baking are all available in one place, direct from the source.”
In this video, I speak with just a few of the many vendors at the Burlington Mall Farmers Market and get to know what makes each of them unique.
We were pleased to see a few familiar faces at the market! Sweet Potato Johnny, Smokeville and Lauray Farms were among the vendors we had met previously on Adventure 13 at the Terra Winter Market back in February.
Smokeville has the most amazing smoked salmon, trout, chicken, beef and pork you have ever tasted. Smokeville claims that their smoked fish products have turned more non-fish people into “fish fans” than they can count!
Sweet Potato Johnny‘s products are delicious. Perhaps you may raise an eyebrow at the thought of sweet potatoes in baked goods (I did too). But the incredible taste and moistness of his sweet potato waffles, brownies or bread will have you convinced!
Of course, as we do on every adventure, we met many new friends too!
Brian from J&G Meats filled me in on his family business that has been part of the Burlington community for 48 years. They have a full service retail location on Plains Road in Aldershot but keep up their market presence as a way of introducing themselves to Burlington residents who haven’t discovered the store yet. Brian does this by grilling up samples of his sausages for market shoppers to try.
J&G Meats supplies a number of legendary local restaurants including Hutches on the Beach and Easterbrooks.
The largest vendor at the market is Dilly’s.
This longtime vendor offers a vast array of produce under a giant tent ranging from tomatoes and corn to potatoes and cabbage. The stream of people at this booth seemingly never ends which is not surprising considering its size and variety plus the fact that Dilly’s has been a fixture at the Burlington market for over 43 years.
Dilly’s is based in Simcoe and gets most of its food from the Simcoe and Beamsville area. Most everything is Ontario-grown with items from elsewhere indicated as such.
I was pleased to speak with Ray Korten from Lauray Farms who underscored that they are, indeed, “real farmers.” Ray described his farm as being “almost organic” in that they will only treat their crops if there is a danger of losing them. I found this level of honesty comforting as I sometimes wonder about claims of being 100% organic. “We enjoy speaking with our customers and explaining how our food is grown and what’s in it,” said Roy.
The vendors at the market pay fees to the Burlington Lions club which are distributed back to the community through the group’s many charitable programs. The market has become one of the most successful farmers’ markets in Southern Ontario.
“Over the years the market has become a meeting place for Burlingtonians,” Hanson says. “So many people run into neighbours and friends and use it as an opportunity to catch up.”
By speaking with many of the vendors during our visit, we learned about the benefits that the market brings to the community:
- Even though grocery stores carry local and organic products, shopping at the Farmer’s Market ensures a fair price to the farmer and that more of the money spent stays in the community
- Prices of produce are often lower at the Market compared with the grocery store
- In addition to the money spent at the market itself, a recent study conducted for the Lions’ Market showed that it brings about $5,000,000 into our community
- There are almost 200 people employed by the market, either through working the stalls or in the field getting the produce ready for the market
Come on out to the market for the best of the fresh!
The market is located on the Prospect Street side of the mall and is open from May to October: Wednesdays 8 – 2, Fridays 8 – 4, Saturdays 8 – 2.