Ogilvies Food and Artisan Market, in London’s Hyde Park
Before the rise of mass-produced food, local markets were the anchors of communities; a place where shoppers interacted directly with the farmers, butchers, bakers and artisans who displayed their products with pride; a place where visitors stopped to chat witheach other and watch entertainers perform. Ogilvies Food and Artisan Market in Hyde Park is bringing this sense of community to west London. Against a backdrop of black-eyed Susans swaying in the wind and Canada geese on the pond, Ogilvies delivers a perfect mix of country charm and festival fun every weekend.
With space for 150 stalls, Ogilvies has added new vendors each week since opening in June this year. Londoners are already familiar with some vendors that will be regulars at Ogilvies: The Fresh Farmhouse, Artisan Bakery, Canada Comfort Foods, and The Hungary Butcher, whose loyal customer Paul Seale claims he “was recently forced into a vegetarian diet because the lineup [for The Hungary Butcher] at the Western Fair Market was so long.” Good news Paul: you can buy your local, hormone-free meat at Ogilvies Market now too. Not only that, several regulars will be serving customers year round at Ogilvies’ indoor market, opening in September.
General Manager Michael Bell understands the relationship a market like Ogilvies has with its community. “The community is shaping this market,” Bell says. “For example, I’ve had to bring eggs in because there is such a demand.” With management experience at the Western Fair Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market and a family history of food sensitivities, Bell is determined to source only the most reputable vendors. “I screen them beforehand, and all our produce is top quality,” Bell says. “The Hungary Butcher, in my opinion, has the best meat in town. Fire Roasted Coffee is one of the best coffees. Top quality — this is what we are going for here.” Ogilvies’ owners and management, familiar with the community demographic, are trying to keep the market upscale. “People in this area demand highest quality. We supply high quality at fair prices,” Bell said.
Emma Dayment, owner of Cranberri Country Market in Mount Brydges says selling at Ogilvies “is a good way to promote local produce. We’re getting good feedback. We have everything that’s in season from different farmers in the area. We’re lucky here in Southwestern Ontario to have lots of local availability, so let’s take advantage of it.” Bell echoes Dayment’s sentiments, saying “Whatever is in season — it will be here.”
Gerda Korthof, co-owner of Artisan Bakery, displays her vibrant red beet-carrot-honey bread, a popular item. “We also have dill pickle bread — excellent for grilled cheese. Kids love it. Or how about curry-apricot-almond-raisin bread, if you’re daring? I love this bread,” Korthof says.
In addition to fresh, healthy foods, customers can purchase local crafts, natural skin-care products, and even gourmet dog treats. “People should make their way through and experience the market as a whole,” says Bell. Visitors can sit at picnic tables and savour fresh cut fries from Your Fry is Open while enjoying the talents of local musicians. With new and different vendors every week, in addition to the well-loved regulars, it’s no wonder Ogilvies welcomes about 4,000 visitors every weekend. “The response of the community has been so good — so supportive and positive,” says Bell. When asked about the longer term plan for the property Bell says, “As long as the people support it, there will always be a market.” West London, this sounds like the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Ogilvies Food and Artisan Market
1331 Hyde Park Road, London
Open Saturdays & Sundays 9 am–4 pm
LORI MADDIGAN is a fresh market aficionado from London. Recently becoming “too-young-to-be-retired,” she is happily devoting more time to her second career as a freelance writer.