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Committee seeks enhanced farmers markets

Envision a number of weekly farmers markets, distributed strategically throughout Evanston, where farmers from within a 250-mile radius bring tasty, healthy, vitamin-filled produce, grown organically and priced affordably, accompanied by family-tested recipes that will make that “what’ll we have for dinner tonight” chore not only easier, but fun.

Envision a number of weekly farmers markets, distributed strategically throughout Evanston, where farmers from within a 250-mile radius bring tasty, healthy, vitamin-filled produce, grown organically and priced affordably, accompanied by family-tested recipes that will make that “what’ll we have for dinner tonight” chore not only easier, but fun.

That’s the vision that is gradually emerging from a group of Evanstonians who have formed a group they call Friends of the Markets that encourages citizen participation as advisers to the market managers on the city staff.

Not wanting to reinvent the proverbial wheel, the committee is scouting markets in other communities, such as Woodstock, which one member of the committee referred to as “the best farmers market in Illinois.” The market manager of the Woodstock market told Sheldon Proctor of the Evanston group that the secret to their success was signs that sprout up on lawns all over town on market day, reminding Woodstockers that the market is “today.”

An Evanston Now reader Mary Brugliera this week criticized high prices at the downtown farmers market, saying they make it difficult for people of ordinary means to take advantage of the quality produce available. The committee noted those comments and concluded that vendors could be coaxed into advertising their “bargain of the day,” whereby certain foods grown in abundance would be offered at lower prices than normal.

They concluded that their first step would be to survey the farmers themselves to get their ideas for enhancing the markets. Ultimately, the group hopes to distribute a weekly email newsletter to interested consumers to advise what produce would be available at the next week’s markets, along with recipes for preparing the foods in different and appetizing ways.

The next meeting of the group will be held Wednesday, July 28, at 10 a.m. at the Civic Center and every two weeks thereafter. The public is welcome to attend. For further information, send your email address to [email protected]

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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