Farmer Face-Off

Famous farmers and frenemies of the Market


No, these aren’t two students from the cooking finals in home ec class. Rather, exchanging barbs are the squash captains of the Farmers’ Market, Shaye Howard and William “Billy” Boot.

“I’ve known Shaye since 1990 when I started selling my crops here. He was 15 at the time and coming down to the Market to help his dad in the summer months,” says Boot. “Working in such close proximity, you quickly get to know who your competition is.”

One sure thing you can say about the Market: it’s competitive! Mostly cordial, farmers here limit their exchanges to a respectful nod or a routine “good morning” in passing—all the while stealing a glance at one another’s stall. Others, however, are more expressive and let loose the friendly fire:

“You can see I have more items than Shaye does. I’m known for leeks, beans and now leafy greens—” says Boot, proudly pointing toward his stall.

“Beans—oh please!” rejoins Howard. “Everyone can grow beans! Ask Mr. Boot, there, if he grows nappa cabbage? Now that’s a vegetable worth mentioning—and buying! You can slice it up for salad, sauté it, roast it. It has way more health properties than some stringy old bean!”

And so it goes—game day at the Farmers’ Market.


William “Billy” Boot (left) of Boot’s Farms, Scotland, Ontario, with Shaye Howard, Howard Greenhouses & Produce, Norfolk County. These long-time rivals over premium winter and summer squash also battle it out in the spring with their colourful annuals: hanging baskets, bedding plants and decorative patio planters.


Photos by Evan Dion

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We are the wholesaler tenants of the Ontario Food Terminal. The source for your fresh produce, flowers and select bulk foods. We are the link between farmers, near and far, and the independent green grocers and restaurants that you love. High-quality, organic, local, and exotic—these are our stock-in-trade. This is why we are proud to say—We grow the city.