Orchard View Boulevard may be made of asphalt, but the owners of Apple Tree Markets are hoping it will prove to be fertile ground for business.
The 32-metre-long segment of the street between Yonge Street and the first driveway will be closed off for a summer pilot project from July 14 to Thanksgiving weekend, and the farmers’ market is moving in.
Market founder Lesley Stoyan says she hopes her business, which she runs with husband Chris Trussell, could take root in the new urban park.
“We’re really hoping that North Toronto is able to have a permanent home for a marketplace, and we’re thinking that this new space might be it,” she says.
The farmers’ market got started with an Earth Day event on the front lawn of Eglinton St. George’s United Church in 2008. Community members told Stoyan that they wanted the market to become a regular fixture.
After registering with the city in 2009 the market moved to Eglinton Park, but struggled to get business there.
“We were in the middle of the park and people didn’t see that we were there,” says Stoyan. “We were out of sight, out of mind.”
And the neighbourhood hasn’t embraced the local food movement the way other communities have, Stoyan says.
“Local foods and farmers need support,” she says. “We’re really hoping that North Toronto is going to be able to step it up a bit.”
The farmers’ market brings in locally grown produce, meats and cheeses as well as other specialties like chocolate and preserves.
Customers can participate in a food share program, where they make an advance payment and receive a weekly basket of fresh produce.
Local councillor Karen Stintz says the move could be a win-win all around.
“Getting (the market) exposure on Yonge Street, we hope, is going to improve the success of the market and benefit the community,” she says.
Stintz added that the urban park, which will be marked off by flower planters and benches, will provide the public space the community has been looking for.
And closing Orchard View will improve pedestrian safety because it’s a very busy intersection, Stintz says.
Traffic and parking impacts will be monitored and reported to North York Community Council at the end of the pilot project.
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