The Fruixi: good eats, good bikes and great potential slapstick

Fresh food on the move

Montreal’s open air markets are blooming and going mobile


June 23, 2011

Bad eaters of Montreal beware! You may be running out of excuses to justify your diet of Pogos, poutine and 99-cent pizza. This summer, farmers’ markets selling locally grown fruit and veg will be popping up everywhere you turn. And if that’s not enough, meet the Fruixi. A bicycle-drawn mobile fruit stand, it’s everything you hated about smarmy Bixi riders and killjoy vegetable enthusiasts rolled into one. So if you’re reading this while dripping choucroute onto the pages from the three steamés you bought for a dollar and tried to consume in a single mouthful, maybe it’s time you put the dog down and paused to consider the merits of organic produce.

Fruity hipsters

Marché Fermier ( re-opens this week at Parc Lahaie (corner St-Laurent and St-Joseph). With 19 stalls for farmers as well as a crêpe van, organic smoothies, and music from Mile End’s finest acoustic buskers, the Marché is undoubtedly the best place to be seen perusing principled produce.

“Everything that gets sold at the market is produced with sustainable practices,” says Marché Fermier’s Mandy Trudeau. “That means that the farmers really take care of their soil, they do crop rotations, they pick everything the morning of. That’s very different from shopping at Loblaws, where most of the produce is picked when it’s unripe so it doesn’t contain most of the nutrients that it should have.”


Pronounced “frix-ee”, these frisky vegetable expeditors are the brainchild of University of Montreal student Guillaume Darnajou, who came up with the idea as part of a project for his BA in Industrial Design. The idea made sense to the people behind the Marché Solidaire Frontenac (, a farmers’ market at the corner of Ontario and Iberville dedicated to supplying food to the oft-malnourished residents of Montreal’s Ville-Marie neighbourhood.

“There’s a lot of problems with healthy eating here. Until recently, there weren’t many places where people could buy affordable fruit and vegetables in the neighbourhood,” says Fruixi Coordinator Caroline Prenovost. “But in order to reach families and older people who can’t easily get out of the house, we thought we’d go to them rather than wait for them to come to us.”
Starting June 25, five Fruixis ( will be zipping around hospitals and parks in Ville-Marie and also making sporadic visits to Parc Lafontaine.

“Our goal is to sell produce that’s above all local—before being organic—to be able to set a price that’s reasonable. We don’t want to sell tomatoes for $5,” says Prenovost. “If we go to hospitals or Parc Lafontaine, we’ll have fruit that people can eat on site. But when we go into smaller parks to meet families and people from the neighbourhood we’ll be selling all kinds of produce that people can prepare at home.”

Late bloomers

Many more markets will be opening later in the season, taking over Parks Baldwin, Saint-Pierre-Claver and Lafontaine, the parking lot of Hôtel-Dieu hospital, and the corner of Casgrain and Saint-Viateur. On the corner of Milton and Ste-Famille, starting July 21, Santropol Roulant ( will be selling produce from their urban gardens as well as organic farms outside the city. As part of their mandate to promote equal access to food systems, they’ll be using a veggie dollar coupon system to make sure people on a low income can afford to buy their produce. So even if you’re eating ramen noodles nine times a week, you have no excuse not to throw in some organic rapini from time to time.

Montreal Mirror 23 June 2011 (this is the unedited draft)


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