Day Out at St. Jacobs Farmer’s Market

Approaching the huge St. Jacob's farmer's market

I do enjoy farmer’s markets. I like the variety of great food at good prices, the casual atmosphere, the conversations with the vendors and other shoppers. When the market is outdoors, and the day is sunny and clear, it just gets better. It is an activity I can pace to Nicholas’s speed, and extend or cut short according to his energy level. And how many activities are there where you can take a break whenever you want for a cup of coffee and a warm cinnamon roll, or a soft drink and a just-grilled Oktoberfest sausage?

We drove to St. Jacobs last Saturday. I was better prepared this time. I had money in small denominations, carrier bags and my packbasket. We found parking by the auction barns, where a crowd of blue-shirted Mennonite men stood, arms folded, watching the animals. We were expecting to meet our friends from up north, also in St. Jacobs for a day trip, so we hurried over to the food court/crafts building and spotted them right away.

Paula, Ella and balloon Tigger

Paula writes her own blog, At Home with Us ( They are a farming family north of Ottawa, and you can find them at the Petawawa Farmer’s Market on Thursdays. They sell farm-raised pork.

The market was very crowded, and there were not as many Plain people there as back in the spring, except for the vendors. I would think they prefer to shop and visit on the Tuesdays and Thursdays the market is open, because Saturday is definitely tourist day. Busloads of people arrived, some of them visitors from other countries. I don’t think I’ve ever been more photographed in one day. We were visibly Plain, and quite the attraction as we walked among the aisles of produce.

A successful shopping day

This is the famous packbasket, which got many comments and questions. (Yes, it is old and Indian made. No, I won’t sell it.) I am wearing the new blue floral stripe dress I made.

A group of young Mennonite girls, between the ages of six and fourteen or thereabouts, had spent some time staring at us as we sat with Paula, her mother and Ella. Finally, three came over and began to speak to us in Deutsch. I haven’t said anything in German since I took a semester of high school German pretty close to forty years ago. Paula hears it more often where she lives, but doesn’t speak it. We got them to switch to rather accented English, and their question was about my beautiful bonnet! When they realized that I was not actually Mennonite, they didn’t quite know what to do. (Although it is a Mennonite bonnet, I purchased it online in the United States – no help to them.) I suppose they went back to Mama and asked her a lot of questions about strange Anglicans who dress Plain. It would help to travel amongst the Amish and Mennonite here if I could speak Deutsch, but aren’t I a little old for learning yet another language?

By the time we had finished shopping, the auction was over, so I wasn’t able to get any photos of the crowd and their buggies. I expect to go back in the fall, when the weather is cooler, the autumn crops are in, and there will be fewer tourists.

Here is the haul, though, back home in the kitchen: those are elderberries which I made into elderberry syrup in preparation for winter colds, melton mowbray pies, and garlic sausage, as well as heaps of assorted vegetables. I am canning in earnest now!

3 thoughts on “Day Out at St. Jacobs Farmer’s Market

  1. What are mowbray pies? I, too, have had Amish come up to me and speak in their dialect a few times. We all “read” dresses and caps to figure out what group and where they come from. I will get asked if I am from Milroy because I often have their 3 piece ohio dress on. They originate from Holmes co. in Ohio and Berne Indiana ( Swiss) and are VERY opposed to tourism for the most part. There are 3 communities in Milroy, but they are pretty much just one big group. They got too big and just broke off to form smaller groups. They differentiate their dress by how many pleats at the top of the back of the cape and where they put their straight pin there. Little things that noone would ever think to notice. We don’t have any Mennonites around this part of Indiana. In the last 5 yrs or so Pennsylvania Amish are flooding in from basically a bit north of 70 from about 30 to 40 miles east of Indianapolis all the way to Ohio. They wear the heart see through bonnets and they love the electric blue color. I have only seen them in a bonnet in Winter, never in Summer. The Milroy Amish wear it year round. Anyhow, the Milroy ones know me and even though we have told them we are Quakers and that there is no meeting around here for us they believe we need a place and so they had one of my friends ask us if we might like the Beachy Amish group that had moved in somewhere not too far off. It is kind of funny, because they very likely figure we are not asking to join them because we can’t live without our car. They realized how hard that is and figure a lot of people just can’t hack it.
    We are never too old to learn!!! If you have time and a teacher, go for it.

    • Melton mowbray pies are delicious little pork and bacon pies. My husband loves them. They were originally made in the Mowbray district of England.

      I think our young friends would have liked a bonnet like mine, but knew they wouldn’t be allowed it if it wasn’t Mennonite. I just bought some electric blue fabric for a dress! It’s my husband’s favourite colour. With his vision much diminished he likes bright colours more than he used to.

      People have suggested the beachy Amish to me, too. There is a significant group here in Ontario. I could live without a car, but moving to a place where we can keep a horse is too expensive right now.

  2. Oh THOSE pies. I just watched someone making something like that, but they didn’t call it that. Can’t remember what they called it, but there were 2 different ones made. In both they covered the walls and bottom of this container with “streaky” bacon and then layered pork and something like a stuffing and then topped it tightly with the bacon. When it was baked and cooled they sliced it. The other one was done like a pie and I don’t remember what was in that, either. I should have written it down because I wanted to make one. It was a British show and they used bacon to cover all the little birds they like to cook to help with flavor since they tend to not have fat. Keep em from drying out, too. My grandpa was from Manchester England and I like stuff like bubbles and squeak and fish ( the man lived, ate, and breathed fish), but I don’t like a lot of seafood. I have a few recipes from my relatives over there and a few British cookbooks. I cook a lot like them, but I also love to experiment with other ethnic dishes. I love to cook period!!
    The Beachy Amish to me are much like the German Baptist – in a similar place plain wise. In transition – likely there will be changes coming. As for the GB’s I am speaking of the New Conference, now about a year or so old, and not the Old, which is still considered a transitional group by those authors who study them and write books. I don’t see the Old Conference as changing much, but on the other hand I am hearing lots and lots of reports that many have been deeply affected by the split, so that there is a trickle of those old conference into the new. I guess I mean that I see many in the Old Conference very intent on not giving up the plain path. They are hearing that the New conf are buying big screen tv’s and into all kinds of other stuff they were never allowed. I believe that is mostly an exaggeration, however, I do see testing the waters on a smaller scale. The Beachy have a website and you can see how transitional they are!! I found a few associated blogs and at one they were really questioning the plain thing.

    Oh, I liked that basket, like everyone else and I thought you looked very nice in your outfit and bonnet.

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