The Price of Local/Ontario Garlic [General]

2012 Jul 22
I have had chats with many lately about the price of local/Ontario garlic. It is definitely more than the '89 cents for 3 pack' that you see from China at the grocery store.

I thought it might be helpful if we share our pricing observations as we travel to farmers' markets and experience the pleasure of roadside stands.

Some of you may know I am a bit garlic obsessed. I don't mind paying 'not China' prices but I too have my upper limit. I am not a $3/garlic head girl unless it is some kind of awesome fundraiser, like Silver Spring Farm.

Last year I purchased 82 heads of garlic from 9 farms across Ontario, through the farmers' markets or roadside stands. I did keep track of my batches and documented which farm, which variety, how many I bought and on what date. For some very bizarre reason, I didn't keep track of what I actually paid. Will be changing that up this year. Not only will it be helpful for me, I think in sharing, it could be helpful to others.

Pictures would be great to give us a sense of size, as often farmers will have sets of prices depending on the size of their garlics. Also, if you know the variety (like Music or Russian Red) that would be helpful to note too.

Anyone interested in this information and helping out? Camera phones on the ready.

2012 Jul 22
Vendor: Kings Creek Garlic Farm, Prospect, ON
Selling Location: Kemptville Farmers' Market
Organic: I don't know
Variety: I don't know, but looks like Music
Price: 3 heads for $5.
Observations: I would have expected a price of $1.50 a head tops for this size. Maybe even just $1.
Purchased: None (I have 3 fresh heads at home and it's too soon for me to stockpile.)

2012 Jul 22
I think this would be a great idea, not just for garlic, but all local produce. Good idea.

2012 Jul 23
Important for us to know that garlic is a bit labour intensive.

It is planted in the fall and needs to be well covered with straw to get safely through the winter. Then in the spring the straw needs to be pulled back a bit to allow the shoots to come through. (The sight of garlic is the first sign of spring for a farmer.) If they are growing hardneck garlic, then the scapes need to be cut off as it goes into its first curl but before it heads up straight. Timing is important. Thankfully for farmers, the scapes are now sold in the marketplace. They used to be tossed. This does help farmers offset the cost of growing this plant. At harvest time the plant is pulled and needs to lay out to dry. Then they need to be rubbed up a bit to remove the outer dirty dry layers. It is a bit of work to handle every bulb again to be prettied up and made ready for market.

There are predators of garlic that are persistent and can be challenging to combat and keep out of the fields. Leek moth is one. Neamatodes is the other popular garlic pest. It is too easy to lose a crop or a good part of a crop pests. This affects pricing for sure.

A long-winded way of saying that I do appreciate the effort it takes to grow garlic (and why I don't)and the pain that farming can be at times.

I do want to pay fairly for local/Ontario garlic. No one should work for free to make a reliable and delicious product for their consumer.

2012 Jul 23
I bought this garlic at Palmer's Berry Farm in Westport. Small, family run farm. They sell their produce on best-behaviour and leave a jar of cash for you to pay & make your own change. I tend to pay whatever they ask because they are such great people. I will also stock up in the fall with whatever I can get here in Ottawa from the Ottawa Farmer's Market.

Here is a pic of what I bought there this weekend. The 7in on the left was $1, the larger 8in was $2 .

2012 Jul 31
Vendor: D&G Bergeron Gardens, Navan, ON [they have a green sign indicating that they are only selling what they grew themselves]
Selling Location: Parkdale Farmers' Market
Organic: I don't know
Variety: Music
Price: $2 per bulb.

2016 Jul 11
I took the plunge late last summer and bought some local hardneck garlic to plant in the fall. With the price they charge at farmer's markets for it you would think you were planting gold. I believe what I have is 'Music' and am just awaiting confirmation from the folks I bought it from last year.

Anyways, it did remarkably well and should be harvesting in the next couple of weeks. We have picked for our own use and they are nice sized bulbs. I still do not understand why it is priced so high for local grown as it has to be one of the easiest things to grow.

For those of you who have tried other varieties, do you think it would be worth it to procure more seed stock this year and try different varieties as well?


2016 Jul 11
So just plant some bulbs in the fall and harvest them next summer ?

2016 Jul 12
Plant some cloves ;)

But yes, I did nothing more. Picked some weeds of course this spring and did not cover them with straw. Maybe should have but they seem to be doing fine.

2016 Jul 13
I agree it's easy to grow, except when it's killed by early frosts. ;-) It has always been one of those plants that seems to grow in any conditions, and no pests eat it. Until...

The leek moth. They have destroyed garlic crops on many farms, or left so much damage that the bulbs can't be stored, they turn to dust.

Your farm or garden can be free of the moth, but they spread very easily from one area to another. If you buy infected bulbs, you will be dealing with the problem for years to come.

We found that when the leek moth began to become a problem here in Ontario, the garlic prices went way up.