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Monday, May 20, 2024
Taking stalk: Asparagus season kicks off with a bang, and lineups, at Thwaites
Jennifer Thwaites of Thwaites Farms in NOTL had to keep up with a whirlwind of excitement as customers lined up to grab some of fresh-from-the-field asparagus. RICHARD WRIGHT


It was game-on at Thwaites Farms in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Friday, May 3 as the first farm-fresh produce of the season hit the stands with an expected frenzy.

The goods everyone was waiting for? Asparagus.

Doors opened at 10 a.m. at the Grantham Townline and Lakeshore Road location and by 11 a.m. all available stock of Grade 2 asparagus was sold out.

Grade 1 bunches, which are more favoured by the public, were still plentiful and moving fast. (You’ll find Grade 1 stalks in grocery stores. Grade 2 are just as tasty but have some minor imperfections.)

“As soon as the sun comes out and it feels a little bit warmer, people start messaging for asparagus,” said Nelson Thwaites, a next-generation producer with the farm also known for producing grapes, pears, peaches and nectarines.

“Today, people were lining up before 10. There are a lot of happy people.”

On day two of the spring season, at midday on Saturday, Thwaites’ stock of stalks was replenished and still plentiful as a steady stream of happy customers lined up.

Grocery stores, restaurants, market retailers and the public all have the start of the asparagus season marked on their calendars.

“I’ve been waiting for two weeks for this,” said one gentleman as he was handed two bursting bags of the vegetable crop.

The operation grows the product on its Norfolk County properties and then brings it to its packing and distribution site in NOTL where it is available to eager Niagara customers. 

On Friday, trucks were bustling in and out of the location and Thwaites himself could barely find a minute to talk before having to run to the commercial loading area to help another large-order customer.

“It’s the kick off to the local season,” he said. “They want it in the store as quickly as they can get it.”

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