There’s no better place in the city to get your hands on fresh and local products than the Regina Farmers’ Market (RFM). Housed in the heart of downtown at City Square Plaza, it runs every Wednesday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., May 7 until Oct 8.
If you weren’t aware, night markets occur as well! The square comes alive from 5-10 p.m. with food tastings, live music, yoga parties and salsa dancing with Regina Salseros, all in addition to the incredible RFM vendors! Tonight will be the last one of the year, so be sure not to miss it! (August 25)
And it doesn’t end there! The indoor market begins in October and runs until December (breaking during January and February) and then is back again March through April at the Wa Wa Shrine Centre on Saturdays (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
For the past 41 years the market has been an integral part of downtown Regina, thanks collaborative efforts by the market group, the City of Regina and the Downtown Business Improvement District. According to Dee Kitsch, RFM Marketing Manager, 2007 was a turning point in regards to its popularity.
“In May 2007, Ada Bennett became the Market Manager. Previous managers had maintained the market just fine, but Ada was driven to make it grow, doing countless things to increase the popularity of the market. This included securing space in City Square Plaza, recruiting new vendors with new products, changing the way the market advertised itself, creating Market Under the Stars and more,” shares Kitsch.”
Other factors that Kitsch feels contributed to the growth of the market were the local food movement, demand for organically grown products, new cottage winery legislation and a shift towards healthy eating (i.e., green = healthy, antioxidants, "super foods", etc.). “There was a steady rise since 2007 and then all of these things came together to create an explosion of growth in 2013. It has continued since then,” says Kitsch.
The RFM has around 120 members in total with up to 85 vendors (including members, renters and community groups) in attendance at a single market.
From fresh made bread to freshly plucked garden goods, handmade soaps and artisan craftwork, the Market truly does have it all! And then there are the food trucks!
There is a real diversity and a ton of super popular items truly that keep people coming back for more. Kitsch says that based on the response from social media and customer inquiries, these items are the most popular:
- Produce: Peas, strawberries, Saskatoon berries (by far the most popular), tomatoes, garlic, watermelon, corn and brussels sprouts.
- Baking: Artisan breads/pastries
- Other: Eggs, alcohol, wild boar, honey, Ukrainian prepared foods (cabbage rolls, beetniks)
In 2016, five food trucks and a beverage card applied and were accepted to serve up their yummy offerings. Here are a few you should try if you haven’t yet:
- Baba's Food Spot - Try: Perogies with dilly cream sauce or breakfast perogies (served Saturday mornings only)
- Prairie Smoke - Try: Cup o' 'cue or the brisket breakfast
- Spudd's - Try: Grayson Sausage poutine or a naan dog (if available)
- Bon Burger - Try: greek fries and any burger
- Nacho Fiesta - Try: Taco salad
Kitsch’s personal favourites include the flavour and beauty of the produce. “Other veggies taste like cardboard when you're used to farmers' market veggies,” she says. Another favourite part of the market for Kitsch is, “The feeling of family or community. You get to know many types of people and even build lasting friendships.”
I couldn’t help but take an informal poll on Facebook. Here’s what the locals (aka my friends) recommend:
“Thrive for the juice.” Brenda King NOTE: Thrive is a Saskatoon based outfit but there are many who hope they open a brick and mortar here (me included)!
“Fresh veggies and baking cause I don't bake!” Deb Holfield
“Nuts from the nut guy!” Mark Kurmey
“I go for honey and my kids go for the Cookie Lady. I also get veggies and the occasional dog treat. I get my honey from anyone local. I'm making a trip specifically for pre-made frozen meals and peanut dip. I always go to Sacred Earth for soap. When my friend is in town from Edmonton she loads up on their lathery goodness. Oh, and I specifically go to Helitrope for veggies because they are awesome. And so are their veggies.” Leslie Charlton
“I go for the amazing vegetables at Heliotrope Farms. Last week I pick up some collard greens because they looked beautiful. I had never cooked with them and now I have a new favourite recipe.” Jodi Holliday
“I go for the kohlrabi.” Jay Brown
“We go to Saltine Baking Company for a loaf. Sometimes we also get a smaller treat to snack on while we shop. I also get the juice at Thrive. We visit Heliotrope specifically for their heirloom tomatoes. Craibstone Creamery has amazing feta cheese and a cheese spread. Other than those specifics we wander around and see which produce looks good that day.” Andrea Morphy
“I have a standing order for eggs from the Scandinavian Sweethearts.” CJ Katz
“All the homemade craft stuff. It amazes me the talents that some people have.” Roshelle Montgomery
“Can't get enough of Baba's! Dill sauce is off the charts.” Justin Reves
Photos courtesy RFM