With the Kitchener Market being put on hold and, for most of us, food being less accessible than it's been for a long time, we have been pushed to find new methods of grocery shopping and pantry stocking. And, hey, while it may be more difficult, time consuming or daunting (helloooooo Technology), we can still find a way to support local. Perhaps, right now, it's more important than ever.
Here's my Top 10 based on a combination of accessibility, convenience, quality and of course, local offerings:
1. The Sustainable Market
Consider this your Zehrs except with offerings from local farmers, producers and vendors. Create an account here to receive weekly updates on what's available to order, when you can begin your shopping, the deadline and pick-up times.
For Guelph, Waterloo and Woodstock, ordering is from Monday to Wednesday at noon and pick-up is from 3-6pm on Fridays at various locations. Pre-pay via e-transfer is recommended at this time, but credit and cash upon pick-up are still an option. Don't forget to bring your own bags or boxes to transfer your pre-packed goods into.
UPSIDE: extensive product list, high quality, accessibility (for drivers), touchless exchange, serves beyond region
DOWNSIDE: if any, a higher price point + no delivery option
2. Cafe Pyrus Outpost (Milky Way Farms & Gingrich Farms)
Two of my favourite vendors from Kitchener Market are still open fo' business! Virtual high five to Cafe Pyrus who has teamed up with Milky Way and Gingrich farms at their Outpost along the Spurline Trail on Saturdays. This involves non-contact exchange, pre-ordering baked goods and coffee from Pyrus and organic veggies from Milky Way as well as exact cash only pick-up from Gingrich Farms (on site). Pre-order by Friday at noon and pick-up form 10am to 1pm on Saturdays. Find out more information here.
UPSIDE: quality, accessibility, touchless exchange
DOWNSIDE: if any, a limited product list + no delivery option
3. Gmach Farms
Another Kitchener Market vendor finds ways to provide us with nutritious whole foods by going online. Simply head to their website here, add items to your cart, pay via e-transfer and pick up your items at the farm out in Wilmot. While it's a little more of a trek, I wouldn't second guess a chance for some different scenery these days.
Currently, they have in-season vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, onions, beets, potatoes, brussel sprouts and some canned/fermented goods.
UPSIDE: fresh produce, touchless exchange
DOWNSIDE: a bit of a drive to the boonies with no delivery option
4. Legacy Greens
Ah, my favourite little grocer shines through! Legacy Greens has kept their regular hours, however introduced a 1 customer limit and installed a plexiglass divider at their counter for safety measures. AND, get this, as of next week, they will introduce delivery options on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-4pm with orders due two days prior at 8pm. Purchase online here.
UPSIDE: local quality, variety of items, social distancing measures
DOWNSIDE: hmm....I guess I'll keep thinking
5. Pfenning's Organics
While their store is still open to shop at, they also have online ordering that can be utilized at times like this. You can browse their catalogue here for individual items or browse "baskets" with various themes like local, wild, fruit, blender, among others. Purchasing baskets or additional add-ons grants you free delivery in a wiiiiiide range of places from Brantford to Fergus. For dates and times of delivery, click here. Like The Sustainable Market, Pfenning's has a wide selection of goods from food to supplements to home needs.
UPSIDE: extensive product list, organics, touchless exchange, serves beyond region
DOWNSIDE: hmm...I'll keep thinking
6. Top Market Family Farms
If you need to stock a freezer, here's your chance - except you can do far more than that. Products include baked goods, fruits, veggies, eggs, milk, some pantry items and a wide variety of humanely raised meat selections. Currently, Top Market has a three customer policy in place and a "flow" to their store, or you can call or Facebook Message ahead and have your order delivered to your car. Payment by tap and e-transfer only. Find them on Facebook here.
UPSIDE: extensive product list, high quality, touchless exchange available
DOWNSIDE: if any, no delivery option
7. Zero Waste Bulk
If you were a fan of ZWB before, there's no reason you can't be an even bigger fan now. They made the tough decision to close up shop despite being under 'grocery', but have since re-opened with an online selection, still maintaining serious sanitary precautions. They are slowly plugging away at their e-commerce store here, but ordering is open now.
Upon checkout, you simply enter in the date that you are looking to pick up; they call you when it's ready and then you determine what time you'll be heading over, calling upon arrival so they can leave your order in the vestibule. BTW: Beyond bulk pantry items to responsibly stock, they have an array of refrigerated foods, local goods and household items like toilet paper. MIC DROP.
UPSIDE: extensive safety measures, extensive pantry/dry items
DOWNSIDE: deposit or payment for packaging ($1 jar, 15c paper bag)
8. Victoria Street Market
Shoutout to my pals Bo & Christa, who have figured out numerous ways to make it work for their community of shoppers and our KW community as a whole. They have set up "phone operators" Monday to Saturday from 9am-4pm who will take your grocery list , pick your order and deliver to your car. Call them at 519-743-6481 (the easiest option) or email your list to email@example.com. Maybe even better yet, you can order online here for delivery to your doorstep.
UPSIDE: local small business, extensive product list, delivery options
DOWNSIDE: not allllllll local products
9. Vibrant Farms
They've always done online ordering to pick-up sites in the region and the bright side is that they are still operating meaning we can get our hands on some hiiiigh quality meats and support our local farmers. By ordering online here, they will prepare your invoice and your order once final payment has come through for pick-up in their self-serve freezers, to which you should take your own personal precautions. They've also introduced delivery to Top Market Farms (see above) or delivery for orders over $100 with an associated fee.
UPSIDE: grass-fed, organic meats, online order & delivery options
DOWNSIDE: a bit of a hike for pick-up, delivery fee
10. Any stocked Grocery Store (Pick-Up Ordering Where Possible)
As much as love love looooove shopping local, I also understand there are other factors at play, especially right now. Even I hopped on Zehrs grocery pick-up after getting back from vacation and missing the deadlines for other grocery platforms.
The last thing we all need right now is another stressor or reason to feel guilty, so when it comes down to it, get your food from whatever source you feel comfortable with, prioritized based on you or your family's needs. I will add: consume real or whole foods as much as possible, get creative with your dishes, but at the end of the day, let's all be grateful for having a strong food chain that allows us to still get food on the table.
Remember, allllll of these grocers listed are in high demand. They are putting their heart into making it safer, more accessible and easier on us, so please do your part in making it safe and easy on them. Stay patient and stay thankful.
COMING SOON: MANY CSA PROGRAMS
With all that's going on, it might be a big undertaking to pay a lump some for a CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture) but it's a great opportunity to support local, have a consistent stream of produce and add just a liiiiiittle routine to your week. In case you're not sure what a CSA is, folk will "buy in" for the season which allows a farmer to commit to growing produce, typically in set amounts for pick-up each week.
Legacy Greens, Fertile Ground Farm and Green Hart Farms are among many accessible in the area. Some CSA boxes continue through the winter, however you can register now for the many that will begin this Spring. There are good things ahead, my friends.
Well, folks; there ya have it. If you are looking to maintain your local support as this global situation evolves, I hope this makes your life just a liiiiiittle bit easier. It's no longer a one-stop shop without the market, but on the bright side, there seems to be a few more moments (hours?) in the days to navigate some pretty dang good options.
Cheers to a brighter future,