Campus Spotlight, Student Life

McGill’s Farmer’s Market builds a community of passionate vendors and students

The McGill Farmer’s Market has been a signature component of the McGill community since 2009. Every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until this Thursday, Oct. 27, McTavish Street overflows with local food producers and excited students. The passionate vendors at the McGill Farmer’s Market come weekly, eager to share their stories, products, and insights with invested and enthusiastic McGillians. From fresh fruits and vegetables to sweet baked goods and local dishes, the market offers a wide variety of options to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. 

Inspiring vendors

Tea, coffee, maple syrup, fresh vegetables, and even adorable potted plants are some of the many items up for grabs at the market. Vendors with fascinating stories set up shop to sell their wares, interact with students, and answer questions about their products. 

Among these vendors is Mike Vasquez, son of Café Elba owner Elba Vasquez. Elba, who once worked as a coffee picker, wishes to give back directly to these labourers. In an interview with The McGill Tribune, Vasquez shared his mother’s story and the importance of selling at farmer’s markets.

“Attending markets is a political act enforcing the local economy to help fight back large corporations,” Vasquez said. “I created this coffee company with my mother, who grew up on a coffee plantation in El Salvador. Over there, coffee labourers endure harsh conditions, picking grains on hillsides under the hot sun.” 

Another exciting find at the market is Ochado, a tea business that bloomed from a brother-sister collaboration between Julie and Normand Vaillancourt. These siblings have been selling their locally-grown tea at the McGill Farmer’s Market for the past 10 years. Julie Vaillancourt told the Tribune why she’s so dedicated to selling at this market. 

“We enjoy interacting with students. They always ask excellent questions and are very invested in discovering where the tea comes from,” said Vaillancourt. “It is so great to be able to educate people about Canada’s rich tea culture.”

Fresh produce 

In addition to connecting students to local vendors, the Farmer’s Market team organizes the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. This initiative offers local and seasonal produce through a weekly basket subscription service. The baskets originate from Co-op au Bout du Rang, a farm based in Saint-Félix-de-Valois that grows over 40 varieties of vegetables. Ranging from mauve aubergines to scarlet-red tomatoes, these colourful baskets are sure to bring flavour to your weekly recipes. 

Felix Todd, U3 Geography, is a proud customer of the CSA program. 

“Every week I get different items in these baskets, which allows me to try something new each time,” Todd said. “Knowing where the produce comes from helps me establish a closer link to the food I eat […] and I especially like coming to the market to socialize with familiar faces.” 

Another source of fresh produce at the market comes straight from the Macdonald Campus Farm (MacFarm) at McGill. Florence Pelletier-Solasse, a researcher in nutrition at McGill, is in charge of selling the fresh fruits and vegetables cultivated by fellow university students at the MacFarm. 

“Students are involved in research and production at the MacFarm, providing the market with fresh vegetables picked the same day,” Pelletier-Solasse told the Tribune. “I am very interested in dietetics, and at the Farmer’s Market, I like to answer people’s questions about nutrition and vegetables.”

So grab your reusable bag and wallet, and rush to the market to fill your kitchen with local goods and flavourful vegetables grown by farmers and fellow students. During your visit, you can engage with a welcoming community and chat with passionate vendors while supporting the local economy by purchasing from smaller, local businesses. 

With a sprinkle of smiles, a handful of fresh produce, a scoop of local foods, and a dash of unique stories, the vendors at the McGill Farmer’s Market come equipped with a recipe to brighten your Thursday afternoons. 

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