Mallorytown plant sale, Brockville farmers market kick off spring along the seaway

Spring planting season has arrived across the region, with folks along the seaway taking advantage of the Saturday sun, attending events that have returned for 2022 after a long and cold winter.

In Brockville, Ont., the weekly farmer's market is back for the season, commencing an annual tradition since 1833. 

"It's been breezy but busy," said Farmers Markert Treasurer Dori Hunt. "It's been a long winter, everyone is excited to get back out and support local."

Around 35 vendors packed Market Street West, offering up everything from hot sauce to hot meals.

And with COVID-19 restrictions lifted, the market can run full capacity this year, with the board even adding a second day of the week for vendors.

"The past two years, due to the pandemic and social distancing and everything, we had to get rid of the Thursdays, but this year we decided why not, all the restrictions have been lifted, at least for now, so Thursday's from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. we are here," Hunt said. 

Vendors across the region were glad to be back in the downtown core selling a variety of food and local products. 

"It feels wonderful to be back," said Leisa Price-Storey of Leisa's "Gluten-Free'd" Good Eats. 

"I love all my customers, especially the ones that really like all my treats," she smiled. "It's been beautiful, lots of people."

"The market is thriving," added James Hall of Le Saladier Fine Woodworking out of Merrickville. "It's good to be back outside. It's a little chilly today, but we are back."

"(Some) producers are hard to come by this time of year because it's definitely not a growing season yet, but come summer we'll have full market," he said. 

"People are happy to be back at markets for sure. It's enjoyable. Brockville is a great community to come too and people like to see us out on the street," Hall said. 

"We can run full capacity again," added Hunt. "So we don't have to have the 10 feet between stalls, we can run full which means we'll be busier, we'll be better and bigger."

West in Mallorytown, green thumbs picked up garden essentials at Yonge in Bloom's annual plant sale. 

The Yonge in Bloom initiative aims to beautify the village and Front of Yonge Township, and has been very successful.

"We've noticed that the township itself, because of our initiatives, has really cleaned up and people are starting to garden more," said Yonge in Bloom Chair Annette Kaldeway. 

"I think COVID has probably brought that together too because of the price of food," she added. "Something that they could do to bring the price of their food down and have more nutritional food, that's all good. We love it."

Other events are planned throughout the summer like seminars and garden tours.

"We are doing outdoor workshops because we have had requests and we have people that are knowledgeable," Kaldeway said. "Next week at 10 o'clock in the morning at the community centre, you'll be taught about pruning, pruning bushes, pruning vines, pruning trees."

"In the afternoon they will drive out to Ballycanoe and they will learn about wild garlic and wild leek, and they will actually take some home with them a small amount, and let it grow in a location where it needs to grow," she added. 

The group also helped beautify the roadways in the township by picking up garbage. 

"The amount of garbage on Ontario roads is just over the top. I don't get the mentality," Kaldeway said. "So we go out and the one area where we focus on right now is the merges of the 401."

"These are the roads that introduce people to Front of Yonge Township. We don't want that on the sides of our roads. We want nice clean roads and that gives people a feeling for what kind of community we live in," she added. 

A craft fair was also set up for the first time at the village's recreation park, with vendors offering honey, garden signs and tools. 

With attendees in both Mallorytown and Brockville noting how nice it was to be out in the community. 

"Everyone is so excited to be back," Hunt said. "It's nice. It's a little bit of normal again."