Driving down St. Mary’s Road a while ago, I saw a wonderful sign of spring.
Actually it was literally a sign that read "spring surprised us so much, we wet our plants!"
Of course it was posted at Jardins St. Leon Gardens. It is always my first indication of the change of season, which usually starts with a truck in the parking lot and the cleaning of their structure. This year there are new lime green flower pots that line the street. I can’t wait to see what will be blooming in them this year.
What you may not know is that Jardins is so much more than a garden centre. Once you have purchased your perennials, tomato plants, bedding plants, and hanging baskets, something happens. The stock changes from that of a full-on garden centre to that of a lovely market garden!
Yes, a market garden right there on St. Mary’s Road, where you can go and buy fresh fruit and vegetables.
The market season kicks off with the beautiful bounty of Manitoba strawberries. Depending on the growing season, you will soon find peas, carrots, radishes, spinach, lettuce, potatoes, corn, beets, cucumbers and beans. The best part is that it’s all local, grown-in-Manitoba produce supporting our farmers.
For the shoppers’ convenience, you can also find other produce here, the things we cannot grow in Manitoba in abundance or at all.
You’ll see peaches and plums, and pineapples; tomatoes early in the season and strawberries late in the season from across Canada.
What you may not know is that what you find here is actually of better quality and fresher. The middle man is cut out and they deal with growers directly, getting shipments sent straight to them and not via a warehouse or cold storage in another city.
You can find some amazing baked items,too, from the St. Pierre Bakery, as well as Crompton Jams, Bothwell cheese, artisan bread from La Croissant.
When you visit Jardins St. Leon you’ll also find friendly staff who are very knowledgeable. If they don’t know the answer to something, you’ll be guaranteed to hear a cowbell ring, calling for someone who does know the answer. I love that bell.
You have to check back often, as selection changes. If something is locally grown if the sign says "Real", which is such a great touch. Check out the website: stleongardens.com
Tannis Ross is a community correspondent for St. Vital.