When you start thinking about Christmas shopping, I'm sure the first place you think to go is the farmers' market, right? Well, perhaps it should be on your list! This year is the first time I've gone out to the farmers' markets around Ottawa on a regular basis and I can tell you I'll be out even more next year than I was this year. Recently, I took my husband (Matt) and son (Brandon) out to the North Gower Farmers' Market in the southwest rural part of Ottawa. As we walked through, I realized that I was in the perfect spot to find some unique and interesting Christmas gifts for family and friends.
Sure, you find the usual treats and delicacies at every market - like fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as a plethora of baked goods that will make you hungry just looking at them.
There is another fabulous side to hitting the farmers' markets every week: Artisans!
The first table we stopped at was a huge reason I wanted to make this return trip to North Gower (Brandon and I were out earlier in the summer). Simply Whimsy Greetings & Gifts' owner, Tara, has a beautiful lineup of products - necklaces, bracelets and earrings as well as greeting cards. And while I was truly looking for ideas for others, I must admit I was adding a couple items to my own wish list. :)
Right next to Tara was Jack Wright of Rideau Lakes Cutting Boards. I must tell you, these cutting boards are absolutely gorgeous. (They're also probably far more durable than my old IKEA butcher block that split in two a few years back.) Actually, they're so pretty, I almost can't even imagine cutting anything on them, but I'm sure that would add character to them and make them even more interesting to look at. I love any piece that is both functional and easy on the eyes. Jack's cutting boards qualify without a doubt.
As we walked further in, we got to Kids' Earth Designs and the owner, Christine - a table I purchased a doll from on our last trip because Brandon wanted it quite badly. I couldn't resist it when I saw that Christine had given the doll red hair, with a mix of purple, green and a couple other colours in the back underneath. It reminded me of how many are dying their hair that way. Brandon enjoyed looking at Christine's table and I was only able to get him away by distracting him with some baked goods out for sampling nearby. His doll might need a friend by the looks of it!
I never had a Raggedy Anne or Andy doll, but I've always liked them. The woman who was selling them amongst her other products - runners, napkins, placemats, Christmas decor - didn't have a business card, but she's there at the farmers' market every week and her work is beautiful.
That was pretty much the end of my window shopping. I didn't bring any cash with me and only a couple of the artisans/vendors will take credit. So, make sure you come prepared by making a stop at a bank machine first if you head out to any of the local markets!
We did some exploring outside where there was some vintage farm equipment on display for the annual Heritage Day that was going on.
Brandon was particularly enthralled with the tractor - he even tried climbing on at one point. Eeek!
It was hard leaving, but I know we'll be back out again before the market's last day of the season on October 8th. Until then, every Saturday you can head out to North Gower Saturdays from 8:30 to 1:00 and take advantage of all the best that our local rural communities have to offer!
Karen Wilson is a wife to Matt and mom to Brandon (3), who blogs about her life at Karen's Chronicles. She also explores one of her favourite topics - social media - at her blog, The Media Mesh. You can follow Karen on twitter and find her in other places here.