After hours of rain and fog, the sun came out just in time for Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to go for a stroll through the Wellington Farmers’ Market on Friday (June 30). It was the second stop on their visit to Ontario's beautiful Prince Edward Country region, which also included a tour of the Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard.
It’s just the sort of event that the royal couple enjoy: chatting to local vendors while snacking on their yummy creations. So when Charles hit one of the first stalls, he couldn’t resist a piece of savoury cheese, created by Ian Batt, a Scottish immigrant who wore his heavy kilt in the humid heat. “I like him,” said Ian, who runs Scottish Accents. “He’s a great guy and a good spokesman for environmental issues.” He told the royal that when he was a schoolboy back in Edinburgh, a car carrying Queen Elizabeth II nearly ran over his foot during a visit. “I’ll step on your other one,” Charles said laughingly.
As the royals slowly crisscrossed the market, visiting nearly every vendor, the thick crowds cheered wildly, more than a few wearing headbands with Maple Leaf flags waving above their heads.
After indulging in strawberries and cake by the shore of Lake Ontario, Camilla picked out a homemade doughnut at a stall. The old-fashioned treat was carefully wrapped in a red napkin and handed off to an aide, no doubt for a later nibble.
At the Jubilee Forest Farm stall, owner Tim Bakker held Sam, 2, while his wife, Angela carried three-month-old Josie in a baby carrier and grandpa kept an eye on Heidi, 4. “I want to talk to Charles,” said Angela. “I’m so excited.” Like Ian Batt, she knew of the prince’s keen interest in sustainable agriculture, which is how she and her husband farm. Dressed in their regular market clothes – a plaid shirt and baseball cap for him, a green patterned top and maxi skirt for her – they got their wish. First Camilla stopped by, then Charles joined her, talking animatedly to the local farmers, who grow their own organic grains and hand mill them the day before packaging for sale for maximum freshness. “It was good,” Tim said laconically afterward.
A few stalls down, Natalie Normand could barely speak after a visit from the Prince of Wales. “It was overwhelming,” she said, wiping away a tear. “He was super sweet.” She and husband, Henry Willis, run Humble Bread, making 100 per cent organic, naturally leaven loaves that are baked on a wood fire. “We want to feel our community,” she said, noting that Charles had talked about his own crops, especially his rye, which was already more than two metres high.
Near the end of the visit, Camilla stopped by one of the newest vendors in the market, Papa Ghanoush and Momma Hummus, and asked about their Middle Eastern home foods. “It was fantastic,” said Adnan Mustafa, who, with his wife, Suhaila, started the business five months ago. The couple are Syrian refugees who came to Canada just 15 months ago with their four children. They cook in the United Church whose parking lot houses the farmers’ market.
Then it was time to leave for the next engagement. Except Charles and Camilla didn’t seem to want to go. After lingering near their car, they suddenly darted across the street to talk to people in the thick crowds waiting for a glimpse of royalty. Soon, however, time was up. The royals walked slowly back to their car, waving as they got it.
“A good day,” is how one passerby summed it up. Indeed.
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