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A visit to Edmonton’s historic Old Strathcona neighbourhood

The Old Strathcona Farmers Market sells food and crafts, absolutely. But visitors to this hopping space in the heart of Edmonton’s south side are guaranteed to leave the site inspired by not only the quality of the offerings but the stories of the folks who toil at the booths.

Vendors like Graham Sparrow, who has put years of sweat equity into his organic farm – Sparrow’s Nest – and brings both passion and fresh flavour to the fruits and vegetables he hauls into town weekly. And Laurel Ferster and Zinovia Hardy of Calico Baking Co. – who have perfected a range of artisanal breads, scones, croissants and tarts that sell out most Saturdays at the market.  “People don’t have to go to France for world-class bread,” says Ferster with confidence. “They can go and see the two gals at the market.”

So many of the vendors exemplify “world-class”, including Sylvan Star Gouda – producers of multi-award winning cheeses, and the certified organic Sunworks Farm, which raises 100 per cent grass-fed beef and cage-free chickens on a farm near Armena, Alberta.

Those who want to tour this neighbourhood for a day can start with a delicious East-L.A.-meets-Mexican fusion brunch at El Cortez Kitchen and Tequila Bar before heading over to the market. If all this touring builds up a thirst, a craft beer tasting and an inside look at Situation Brewing, located just two blocks from the farmers’ market, is a great way to end the day.

Favourite independent restaurants, coffee shops and pubs located nearby, include MEAT, The Next Act, Pip, Block 1912, Da Capo, Cally’s Teas and Nanolicious. Tips on the entertainment options in the area include live theatre at The Varscona or The Roxy on Gateway, to Saturday afternoon blues at the nearby Commercial hotel.

by Liane Faulder, Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Food Tours guide