Farmer’s Market Opening Sprouts New Crop of Local Entrepreneurs

Sales of locally grown produce will increase as the season progresses

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Although it’s still a bit early for locally grown produce, there were plenty of delicacies and crafts for sale on the first day of the Mountjoy Farmer’s Market.

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Igor Shunevych and his wife Katya, new Ukrainian citizens, sold traditional blintzes and tasty buckwheat pancakes with pork liver. Katya was a baker in Ukraine and arrived with her two sons, Vlodomyr and Vladislav to join Igor, a welder at Steelworks Welding & Fabrication Inc., a year after arriving in Timmins.

They had hoped to move to Canada for some time, but the war accelerated their plans. The public flocked to their table for traditional and non-traditional sweet and savory homemade dishes such as quiche Lorraine and cupcakes. Katya specializes in cabbage rolls and pierogies, but wanted to expand her menu specifically for the market, Igor said.

Sarah Graham of Graham Acres in Timmins was quickly selling out her popular summer sausage.

Casey Levesque from Timmins made a special trip for the delicacy and picked one up for her friend from Star Lake.

The sausage is produced with locally raised beef and pork by Mennonites near Elmira. The farm works hand-in-hand with Mennonite communities, Graham said, including those in Val Gagné.

“We came here last year, and she’s obsessed with them like me,” Levesque said, adding that it’s very tasty. “So she asked me to buy her one so she wouldn’t have to drive around town.”

Joanna Scott, of Stein Haven Farm in Ramore, started making her all-natural beauty products after moving from Toronto to live on her husband’s farm seven years ago. She said eating farm-raised foods calmed her allergies, and since then, “everything that can come from the land and is as pure as possible finds its way into my products,” she added.

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In addition to body soaps and bars, she also makes Felted Soaps which are soap-filled woolen mitts that gently cleanse and exfoliate.

Jaden Whissell and Alla Budovkina came from Toronto. Whissell, the councillor’s son. Rock Whissell, grew up in Timmins. They were selling their handmade Ossa candles, soy wax candles with unique and natural scents. Unlike paraffin wax, soy wax is non-allergenic and their wooden wicks “crackle like fire,” Budovkina said.

Dean Levesque sold delicate and original ceramics from Wawaitin Clay Works, the business he has run with his wife Linda Guiho for more than 30 years. Their works can also be found in the Timmins Museum gift shop. Some Timmins-inspired designs included mugs and birch bark salt and pepper shakers as well as mugs featuring the City of Timmins logo.

Jessica Gateman, owner and executive chef of Red Seal Catering, moved from Toronto to Timmins six months ago to start her business. She specializes in catering for weddings and small events. She served smoked brisket on a brioche bun with coleslaw, “ultimate macaroni and cheese,” as well as handmade cinnamon rolls. “We’ll be here every other Saturday to bring Red Seal cuisine to Timmins,” said Gateman, a graduate of George Brown College Culinary School.

Arna Kirkman continues the art of preservation by selling her pickles, jams and jellies at the market since 2008. Her recipes have been passed down from generation to generation to the women of her family in the Maritimes. “I learned from my mother and she learned from her mother,” she said. “That’s exactly what happened in the good old days.”

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Rock Whissell, president of the Porcupine District Agricultural Society, which runs the Mountjoy Farmers’ Market, said fresh, local produce will be available from the last week of July until the first frost in mid to late September.

Farmers with greenhouses can get a head start on the season, but heating a greenhouse before May eats away at any profit that can be made, he told the Daily Press in an email. Farmers started heating their greenhouses in May, but production takes more than 60 days. More and more local farmers will join the market as the season continues.

The Mountjoy Farmers Market runs Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon until October 8 at 537 Pavillion Rd., across from Participark.

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James V. Payne