Outdoor market for locally grown food launches in Carp

“Our goal is to help western Ottawa get through the winter without relying on imported produce.”

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West Carleton is lush this time of year with fields of corn and soybeans. But the rural neighborhood is actually a “food desert”, with very few places to buy fresh produce, says a local doctor.

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On Saturday, Dr Barry Bruce and his partners opened a new outdoor food market in Carp in a bid to stimulate both supply and demand for fresh local food.

The aim is to convince consumers that locally grown food is good for both the wallet and the planet — and to show farmers there’s a demand for it, Bruce said.

“Our goal is to help western Ottawa get through the winter without relying on imported products. Almost everything that grows here is a staple crop. It is mainly used to feed animals. We want to transform the agri-food system to produce food for people.

Project partners include: Cory Baird, who runs Eldon’s Pantry bakery and cafe in Carp and a nearby chip car; Deep Roots Food Hub, a non-profit sustainable food organization; ExerFarm, which promotes physical fitness through agricultural work; and Ottawa Valley Grain products, which custom manufactures locally produced grain.

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Fresh local products are for sale every day in front of the food truck at the Carp site.
Fresh local products are for sale every day in front of the food truck at the Carp site. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Carp already has a thriving Farmer’s Market, open on Saturdays, with vendors selling produce ranging from crafts to fresh produce and ready-made meals. The outdoor market is something different, Bruce said. The plan is to start small, but the long-term goal is to have a market open at least five days a week, allowing residents to eat food grown on local farmland and gardens and stored locally during winter. winter.

“If we do it in Carp and we do it well, we’ll learn the principles and be able to encourage it elsewhere,” he said.

This is where the Deep Roots Food Hub comes in. He has an off-grid, above-ground “root cellar” on National Capital Commission land near Shirley’s Bay, powered by solar panels. The storage facility provides small-scale vegetable growers with an energy-efficient place to store root vegetables.

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But the “build it and they will come” approach didn’t work. The facility can store up to 60,000 pounds of product, but has stored at most 10,000 pounds, said Bruce, who is a board member of Deep Roots.

“We’ve had the experience of wanting farmers to fill it out. Wishing didn’t work out very well.

“Farmers won't grow anything unless there's a ready market,” says Dr. Barry Bruce.
“Farmers won’t grow anything unless there’s a ready market,” says Dr. Barry Bruce. “We believe that by doing this, farmers will realize that they can grow more next year.” Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Thus, one of the objectives of the market is to persuade farmers that if they produce it, people will buy it. “Farmers won’t grow anything unless there’s a ready market,” Bruce said. “We believe that by doing this, farmers will realize that they can grow more next year.”

Another part of the process will be learning the economics of the food system, including making prices attractive for buyers and sustainable for producers. “We don’t want to be the most expensive market in Ottawa,” Bruce said.

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Baird’s chip truck is an “anchor point” for the outdoor market, which will work in the parking lot around the truck

“The truck draws people in and doesn’t have farmers standing all day,” Bruce said. In the winter, Baird plans to sell local produce at Eldon’s Pantry.

Eldon’s Pantry, named after Baird’s late grandfather, specializes in coffee, sourdough bread, smoked fish and produce from local farmers ranging from preserves to maple syrup. On Saturday, Baird was barbecuing a leg of lamb from Shady Creek Lamb, a pasture-based sheep farm near Kinburn.

When he heard about the deal, he had to jump on board, Baird said.

“It’s a beautiful thing, there’s a need for vegetables every day of the week,” he said. “I am a Baird. There is still a farm in the family.

The Carp Outdoor Food Market marked its first day of operation on Saturday, but the aim is to sell produce there at least five days a week.
The Carp Outdoor Food Market marked its first day of operation on Saturday, but the aim is to sell produce there at least five days a week. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Nora Cox is involved with ExerFarm and an initiative to grow maize, squash and pole beans on a small plot of land at a farm on Dwyer Hill Road.

Being involved in the local food community has helped form bonds, she said. “I love being able to walk around the village and say hello to everyone. I feel much more connected and have lived in Carp for 20 years.

The local sustainable food system resonates with people, Cox said.

“People know where it comes from and what’s in it. We depend on food from abroad. We make ourselves really vulnerable.

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