Saturday, 12 July 2008

A Visit to the Preston Neighbourhood Markets

I live in Preston, which is one of three towns joined in a shot-gun menage a trois about 40 years ago into the city of Cambridge. It hasn't turned out to be a completely happy union. Cambridge is a very sprawling city, and car ownership is pretty much required. (Add a few traffic bottlenecks, and you get traffic jams to rival Toronto.) In particular, Preston has exactly one and a half small grocery stores; a Zehrs and a Giant Tiger. Neither of them are particularly good at carrying local produce, in fact I don't think the Giant Tiger has produce of any sort. (Well it's a department store, really.) Consequently, there was a lot of excitement when we heard that the Neighbourhood Markets started in Kitchener last year were expanding into Preston.

The following are key facilitators of these mini-markets: Opportunities Waterloo Region, Region of Waterloo Public Health, Lyle Hallman Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and Together4Health.

Preston Heights Neighbourhood Market
Here's the one in Preston Heights, staffed by volunteers, as they all are. Produce is purchased at the Elmira Produce Auction, then sold at cost.

Preston Heights Neighbourhood Market
They had a very decent selection of vegetables, some strawberries and a bit of bread from a local bakery. Everything was squeaky-fresh.

Preston Neighbourhood Market My Haul
Here's what I got: strawberries, spinach, new potatoes, green onions, peas already shelled, zucchini and some super fresh garlic.

Preston Downtown Neighbourhood Market
Preston Heights gets less traffic than the mini-market in the park downtown off of King Street. In fact, I heard that the first week they opened, they sold out within one hour. (They are officially open from noon to five.) I got there around 1:30 on their third Friday of business this summer. There was still a good selection of veggies, although they had gone through at least 20 flats of strawberries already, and it looked like they were running low. My impression is that they are bringing more and more every week, but are still having a little difficulty keeping up. It's probably a good idea to get there early. I'm told though, that the Preston Heights market doesn't generally sell out. They close at 4:00 pm, then send their leftovers down to the King Street market, which closes at 5:00 pm.

Preston Downtown Neighbourhood Market
Some of their stacks of empty boxes.

If you are in Kitchener, look for mini markets at St. Mary's General Hospital, the Mill-Courtland Community Centre and the Centreville-Chicopee Community Centre.


Bellini Valli said...

I grew up in Galt one of the 3 cities that emalgamated. My family still lives there but now in Hespeler:D

wordmama said...

Where exactly are these two markets? We live in the area and just heard of these great local food sources. Unfortunately, no one seems to have the details of when and where online!

Ferdzy said...

Hi Wordmama;

The one downtown is in the little park at the corner of King and Argyle, I forget the name, but the one with the bandstand and the standard-issue WWI monument.

The one in Preston Heights is on Preston Parkeway, in front of the school.

They both open at noon - and I would recommend getting there soon after - the one in Preston Heights closes at 4:00 pm, the one on King street keeps going until 5:00pm.