If ever there was a time when Lindsay needed to be put on a leash, it would be at the Regina Farmers Market. We’ve been to several farmers’ markets now, and each have their own particular character; it was the baked goods that really stood out at this one. Lindsay may have said she was most excited for Ukrainian food, but I can tell you this is simply not true, and offer an apology for her filthy lies. I can’t even count how many times I have heard Lindsay talk excitedly about the plates of bars, or ‘dainties’ as they are called, that she’s heard exist on the prairies. This market was the Dainty Promised Land.
Saskatchewan in general is a charming mix of new and old, from ghost towns to trendy chefs, so it was interesting to see how this was represented at one of the biggest farmers' markets in the province. There were several classic desserts such as puffed wheat squares, multi-coloured marshmallow squares, Nanaimo bars, cinnamon buns, pies, butter tarts, poppyseed pastries, cookies, and breads, and there were multiple stands selling each. I found myself continually trying to locate Lindsay, as she rushed from stand to stand. We filled our pockets with goodies: a cinnamon bun (Lindsay’s weakness), a tray of butter tarts (my weakness), and a cherry pie (Lindsay’s brother’s weakness).
The market is centrally located in the picturesque City Square Plaza, with summer hours from 9:00am until 1:00pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays. In addition to several vendors of dainties, there were many other interesting products for sale in this large farm market.
Many people (including me) are guilty of pigeon-holing Saskatchewan in the grain-producing category. While it’s true that Saskatchewan grows a LOT of grain, it also has abundant fruit orchards and thriving produce growers. Living Sky Wineries is a husband/wife duo who have combined their skills to create fruit ciders and fruit wines (in a past life, they trained in international politics and duck biology). Like many other people we have visited, they were two of Western Living Magazine’s 40 Foodies Under 40 in 2011, and were recognized as two of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers in 2012. This pair is incredibly busy trying to keep up with the demand for their outstanding ciders and table wines.
At one time, Dean and Sylvia of Over the Hill Orchards battled a similar mindset we did: that the climate in Saskatchewan is not conducive to growing good tree fruit. This is now a misconception they happily abolish by making and selling products from their varieties of cherry and peach trees. Their Prairie Cherry Spread made it into the Ace Incubator’s top 20 Canadian products along with several others we have discovered and loved, including Vancouver Island Salt Company, Upper Bench cheese, Uncle Berwyn’s Yukon birch syrup, and Highwood Crossing’s flax seed oil.
Another vendor we visited was Last Mountain Distillery, which opened as Saskatchewan’s first micro distillery in August 2010. They use Saskatchewan wheat to distill the province’s abundance of grain into vodka and whisky. We picked up a bottle of the whisky, and have been very happy to have it warm our bodies on cool evening and stormy nights. It’s reasonably priced and well worth the indulgence. Drink local spirits!
The Regina farmers market is a great place to visit for young and old, traditional and edgy, and for those with a sweet or savoury tooth. It celebrates all that is going on regionally, and showcases the breadth of diversity that exists in Saskatchewan.
Now, does anyone know where I can find a leash for Lindsay—eventually we’ll be heading to Quebec, land of pastry, and I’ve got make sure she gets back in the car.