Good things grow in Farmer’s Market

Michelle Yeung
January 26, 2017
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Over the four days that the Hamilton Farmer’s Market is open each week, crowds flock to the lower level where the Eat Industries, Henry Brown’s Small Batch Ice Cream and Pokeh stalls are located.

While many people make a bee-line to one of these popular spots upon entering the market, dozens of other stalls that offer interesting products and eclectic finds are neglected along the way.

Here are two businesses to keep on your radar the next time you stop by.

Gourmet Veggie Foods

Gourmet Veggie Foods is dedicated to all things vegetarian – with a twist.

Rather than the traditional vegetarian options that Western society is accustomed to, owners David So and Joyce So offer Southeast Asian-styled vegetarian options that include mushroom chicken, veggie steak and delectable steamed buns, among a variety of other products.

Four years ago, feeling limited by retirement, So left his wife and son in Markham, Ont., and moved to Hamilton on his own in order to realize his dream of introducing southeast Asian-styled vegetarian cuisine to others.

He has since opened his stall at the Hamilton Farmer’s Market, all the while accumulating a solid customer base and hosting “veggie nights” every month, where customers are invited to So’s house for a vegetarian potluck dinner.

“My products are very special; not too many people in Hamilton recognize [southeast Asian-styled] vegetarian cuisine. To be honest, I’ve been struggling for the past two years because business [hasn’t been that great]. But my purpose here is not to make business. At this point, I’ve [sort of accepted] that business won’t be great. It’s just a little wish of mine to promote [my style of vegetarian cuisine] to people… let’s say there are [half a million] Hamiltonians.”

So explained that if he could convince ten percent of those people to try his veggie products, and another one percent actually cut down their meat consumption by once a week, many animals could be saved.

Currently, So is offering a healthy and tasty ginger tea concoction that he brewed up himself.

“This is what I call the Gourmet Double Ginger Tea. It uses tamarind, two different kinds of ginger and is marinated with honey. The tamarind and ginger improves your immune system,” said So.

“There is a saying in Chinese that goes: ‘ginger is the poor man’s ginseng.’ Essentially, ginger is [an ingredient that has many health benefits]. If one eats two slices of ginger every day, you may even look younger – like me! I recommend this drink, and ginger in general, to all ages. Come by and have a try.”

Fenwick Flowers

John Snieder, the owner of Fenwick Flowers, is known at the Hamilton Farmer’s Market as one of the most personable and charismatic vendors around.


Having worked in wholesale for forty years prior to opening his stall, Sneider is able to offer the best quality products for great prices.

His years of experience in the industry has given him a great working knowledge of what is available; his store is always blooming with ravishing flowers of all types and a variety of succulents that are perfect for students who can’t seem to keep any plant alive.

"I look at the market as not just a place to shop but a place to build relationships. It becomes an experience."
John Snieder
Owner, Fenwick Flowers

When asked how he enjoys the switch from wholesale to retail at the market, Snieder expresses nothing but joy.

“I love it. It’s very enjoyable. It’s a great atmosphere… there are lots of friendly people and I have a great working relationship with other vendors… I have customers who have become good friends… I look at the market as not just a place to shop but a place to build relationships. It becomes an experience. I often tell my wife that Hamilton is known as the Steel Town but the market steals your heart.”

Although he recommends all of his products, Snieder says customers shouldn’t just come to him for his flowers and foliage. “I want people to swing by my little shop and just enjoy the experience. Wouldn’t it be nice for everyone to just [pause for a moment] in their busy days and stop to smell the roses?”


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