(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles from volunteer contributor Janice Blain. Born and raised in England, Janice is a retired early childhood educator who now calls Stittsville home. She’ll be sharing her photos of local people and places in our community.)
The Stittsville Market at The Barn in Village Square Park is a new addition to the Stittsville scene, and with the postponement of the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, this is a timely and hopefully viable community project.
Last week I was so taken with the produce being offered that I didn’t even notice the barn itself. I took the time to look around after speaking to Sue Bird, the owner and dynamo behind the market that is being held there each Friday from 4-7pm.
Sue’s plan is to continue the market throughout the summer and hopefully into the fall, adding vendors or rotating vendors as time passes. (The latest news is that Bower Farm (organic vegetables) will be there this Friday, and a local honey producer will be at The Barn on August 4.) Currently there are three regular vendors, Chris, Haico and Katie.
Given its central location, Stittsville Market at the Barn invites people to return to shopping as it was done in yesteryear, walking to the local market. However, there is parking on the road (Abbott Street East adjacent to the Barn) or at the nearby public parking lot just off Main Street.
How fortunate we are to have access to such a lovely old building which, contrary to my assumption, is privately owned and not part of the city-owned park. Former uses have been to store cement and even livestock back in the day when the railway and station were there. Sharing it with Stittsville residents seems to come naturally to community minded Bird, and hosting the market is a great way to achieve this.
I was surprised by the condition of the barn which was solid, bright and clean with furnishings to enhance the old world look.
Outside the barn were two vendors, Chris and Debbie. Chris is a committed, regular stall holder, offering a wide assortment of colourful knitted and felted products using natural fibres. Mug warmers caught my eye, designed for “take out” coffee cups. Pity they won’t work on my own mug for when I take it outside for coffee morning with neighbours. Perhaps I should ask for one with a hole for the handle and start a new trend. A variety of attractive cotton socks also gained my attention but I held off. Maybe next time!
I did purchase a beautifully fragrant lavender soap from Debbie, proprietor of Pure Heart. She had a whole line of bath and beauty products featuring natural ingredients and essential oils. A busy lady, this was her first time at the barn market but she plans to be there again, whenever she can.
Inside the barn there were three tables owned by more vendors committed to the idea of this weekly market. Two were from Our Farm, one with their own lamb meat products and the other featuring their fresh picked produce.
I bought more beets after having purchased them last week. They were best beets I have ever tasted, and I like to eat them raw. Last week I bought their delicious lamb sausages and I plan to try their ground lamb some time, to make lamb burgers.
Katie, who owns the farm with husband Matt, told me the lambs are pasture fed and any feed given to the animals is their own, organically grown from their own seed. Although not certified as an organic farm all their produce is grown using organic practices and given the quality and taste of their food, this is obvious.
Besides more beets, I also ventured into buying half-dozen duck eggs. A first for me, however, I wasn’t quite so adventurous when it came to the hot sauces offered by Haico’s Hot Sauce, on the third table.
Counting the bottles and samplers, it would seem that there are 10 levels of intensity, all made with peppers grown on his own property just outside Barrhaven. They range from “mild to wild” and for the benefit of hot sauce lovers I should mention that some of the peppers used are Carolina Reapers, the current Guinness World Record holder for being the hottest pepper on the planet.
Excited about the barn market, I will be making a Friday visit part of my regular shopping schedule. It was so pleasant, walking to the park, shopping in a relaxed market atmosphere, and chatting with Susan, the vendors and fellow shoppers.
In a conversation with Katie, we ended up discussing all the ways one can use ground lamb including making an authentic shepherd’s pie. As Katie said, “After all, shouldn’t one made with ground beef be called a cattleman’s pie? Shepherds look after sheep.”