Wednesday, 17 June 2009
A Visit to Keady Market
If you were going to start a thriving farmers market, where would it be? In a small, obscure village with a tiny population, on a Tuesday morning? Yeah, me neither.
On Tuesday we went to Keady, which is a small village just southwest of Owen Sound. More of a hamlet than a village; I suspect if you went on a Wednesday the population would be about 20. The market is behind the main feature of the village; a handsome small church of Scottish stonemasonry.
On a Tuesday in the summer though, the population is probably several thousand. We arrived just after 9:00 am and had a very hard time finding a parking spot, in spite of the fact that there are at least three large parking lots. We ended up parking on the road and walking back.
One of the first things we saw were these wooden drying/storage racks; I was very taken with them and they were not terribly expensive (the one I'm interested in is $75.) I'm planning to do some measurements, and get one next time we go. There's some unusual and creative configurations there, and they fold down for storage.
The market is big enough to have its own little food-court. The menus are set out by the road. We were there in mid-morning so not inclined to eat, but the baked potato bar in particular looked intriguing.
There was quite a lot of imported produce, but there was nevertheless a good handful of local farmers with their own home-grown vegetables.
Local lettuce. I particularly like the idea this couple had of taking small, early lettuces and selling them as a lettuce bouquet.
In addition to the foodcourt area, there are a number of other spots to buy ready to eat food sprinkled throughout the market.
Homemade Italian sausage! Give it a try, hot or mild...
A number of local bakeries show up at the market.
At one point they put up a sign at the edge of the market. At least, I guess it was the edge then. Now about a third of it is on the other side of the sign.
Every kind of butter tart you could imagine.
As with most nurseries, there were a number of nursery and greenhouse growers. This one in Red Bay sounds particularly interesting, and I'd like to head out to visit it sometime.
There was a surprising number of beekeepers at the market, with a good range of honey and beeswax candles.
There were whole rows dedicated to antiques, or at least COJ (charming old junk).
I liked how this carpet merchant had his truck do double-duty as a display rack.
There were not one, but three psychic readers/astrologists with booths.
Potted geraniums add a bright spot of colour.
Pickles from Stratford! We sampled a good rich marmalade and curried pickles, which were much like a bread and butter pickle with a touch of curry - very nice and a little unusual.
One unusual item you could buy was a very unprocessed flax seed oil. In fact they had a little mill and were pressing oil right at their booth.
Here's the reason for having a bustling market in such an unlikely location: there's been a Tuesday morning livestock auction here for a long time. The market sprang up around it as farmers brought in their stuff to sell to other farmers. Soon, in addition to the farmers who came to the auctions, it was drawing a crowd of people with little interest in the auctions as well.
The other thing that makes the Keady market unique is that they also have an auction of small animals, generally chickens, ducks and other poultry, and rabbits but possibly other small animals as well. I was a little dismayed to see how small, dark and crowded the auction space is for these. I was thinking I should scout it out as a possible place to get some chickens if and when I ever get to that point, and I think it must be rather hard to get much sense of the animals before they go up for auction, especially if, like me, you are a rank amateur.
However, my impression of prices as the auction took place was that they were quite reasonable. Although I'm sure it varies, as with most auctions.
Time noted; if I had been interested in buying poultry that day I should have gone straight to the sales barn at 9:00 am.
I was amused by how make-shift most of the cages were. I hope that means they don't actually spend much time in cages, or maybe the sellers just want to make sure the buyers can get their new purchases home, without having to supply a cage themselves. This seller had had the sense to label his offerings: a pair of Indian runner ducks, a pair of golden sebright chickens and a Modena pigeon.
All in all, it was a fascinating market; being both very large and varied - I honestly think it's almost as large as the St. Jacobs market, and a great deal less touristy - and with some unusual features. We'll definitely be going back.