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Not your average farmers’ market: Regent Park market opens Wednesday

The Regent Park Farmers' Market officially opens on Wed. July 3, 2013. David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

TORONTO – The newest farmers’ market to hit Toronto streets officially opens Wednesday. While there is no shortage of farmers markets in the city – over 40 and counting – this one, located in Canada’s largest housing project, promises to offer more than just fresh fruit and vegetables.

The Regent Park Farmers’ Market began as a pilot project in June, a partnership between the Daniels Corporation and Toronto Community Housing.

The market will feature fresh, local food every Wednesday from 3 to 7pm until October 30.

Like similar markets around the city, this one aims to boost the local food movement and provide a space where residents can buy healthy, affordable food.

But organizers say this farmers’ market is unique.

Regent Park is the country’s oldest and largest social housing project. Characterized for decades by drug crimes and gang violence, a plan to revitalize Regent Park officially began in 2003 when the city endorsed the blueprint for a new Regent Park. Demolition began in 2006.

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Since then, the plan has gone through numerous phases aimed at transforming the once isolated neighbourhood into a mixed-use, mixed-income community for more than 12,500 residents.

The latest phase of the revitalization plan has focused on youth forums, park space, new sports facilities, a cultural centre and employment opportunities.

Fruits and vegetables are sold from small plot urban growers and rooftop gardeners. The market also features vendors from the Regent Park community – something organizers say is the defining feature of the Regent Park market.

Regent Park’s local restaurant, Paintbox Bistro, will open the doors to its kitchen each week to the local vendors so they can prepare the items they sell at the market, free of charge. The restaurant will also help residents launch start-up businesses.

In addition to fresh produce, residents will sell halal meats, curries, samosas, breads and pastries, cheeses and spices, and more.

The market’s grand opening takes place Wednesday on Regent Par k Boulevard, south of Dundas Street East, with a ribbon cutting at 3:30pm.

Related: The Morning Show’s resident nutrition expert, Joy McCarthy, discusses the benefits of shopping for local produce at farmers’ markets. Watch the video below.

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