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The Downtown Evanston Farmers’ Market will open for its 38th season on Saturday.

Market hours are 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through Nov. 2.

The market has expanded to over 50 vendors, so shoppers can purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, eggs, flavored oils, pasta and bakery items, as well as flowers and plants.

The Downtown Evanston Market is located at the intersection of University Place and Oak Avenue, behind the Hilton Garden Inn.

Free parking is available in the adjacent 1800 Maple Avenue garage with ticket validation at the City of Evanston tent.

Special events are featured throughout the season and unique artwork by “Home Grown Artists” will be showcased and sold on select dates. Reusable bags are sold on site and Illinois Link cards are accepted.

Dogs, except for service animals, are not allowed at the market.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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7 Comments

  1. Season opening

    Congratulations to all the farmers that come to our farmers market and all of the folks in Evanston who shop there. A big thank you to Myra Gorman for all that she does to make the Evanston Farmers Market a success every year!

  2. Farmers’ Market overpriced

    Once upon a time, farmers' markets were seen as attractive because they cut out the middleman and offered cheap, healthy, unprocessed food direct from the farm.

    Visiting today on opening day, most on offer is prepared food stand fare and outrageously priced "artisan" food. $5 for 6 little cookies makes for an expensive treat. The produce prices were also sky-high. For example, $7 for a dozen eggs is more than twice what free-range eggs cost in the supermarket. The fresh asparagus was similarily overpriced.

    How is it that the concept of farmers market morphed into a rich peoples' activity? Is the City's license fee driving up prices? Once upon a time,  I used to visit the farmers' market regularily; now I only visit once in a great while and am reminded why I don't visit very often as I leave with one or two items at most.

    1. Consumers dictate pricing

      Once upon a time most farmers markets offered food that wasn't from a local farm, it was simply commodity product picked up off of Chicago's water market and sold as "farm fresh" to basically clueless consumers. 

      Prices are high now because the food really is from a local farm.  The cost to produce, load and drive in on some beat up old truck such small quantities of  product "locally" is much higher than the commodity product rail shipped from say the west coast.

      Local produce often, but not always, taste better, but it is never cheaper and ironically enough never more environmentally friendly.  Especially now that so much "commodity" farming has adopted better practices, which is why you see those lower prices at the market now.  

      The whole idea of a farmers market is to provide an upscale "artisan" consumer destination activity and has nothing to do with providing "cheap" product.  It is about marketing higher quality product, the "artisanal" and the pricing goes hand in hand with that. 

      The markets growth and success is reflective of understanding and catering to this particular set of consumers, their demands and desires.

      1. never more environmentally friendly?

        Interesting. . . can you elaborate?  or point me to an article.  That's interesting to me.

        Also, moving here from CA, where organic farmer's markets actually have to be organic, I did not realize for many years that much of the produce at our Farmer's market is coventionally grown.  (duh!  silly me, but it was the case of every farmer's market I ever had been to in my life!).  So if you are going because it is organic, you have to be careful.  

        1. Environment friendly

          I'm going back awhile to the start of farmers markets in Chicago.  I remember the hidden away crates with produce from Mexico, CA, wherever, that was sold as "farm fresh".  It was pretty common and there were newspaper articles outing it. 

          That is not the situation now so your experience is safe. It's not the consumers but the actual farmers and other market purveyors who can identify that kind of thing and insure it is not presented at markets today.

          But the environmentally friendly talk is really questionable when all factors are considered and transportation is taken into consideration.  Old inefficient trucks hauling really small amounts of product around makes such a huge cost per lb of product the problem. 

          For environmental gains the answer lies in the large production farms picking up better growing (organic) methods, which is where the trend is going.  The small farmer is a "boutique" upscale "brand" and will remain as such and I am not saying that is a bad thing.

          The large producers have the most efficient transport & distribution capabilities, which drives the carbon footprint per lb of food to a level so low that the "local" farmer can't match.  Rail from CA is better than small truck from Wisconsin when you consider the massive quantities needed to feed a metro area like Chicago.

          Add in the fact of local distribution consolidation and the transport footprint shrinks even further.  It's why you don't see a seperate dairy guy and a seperate egg guy and a seperate whatever guy, each in their own truck, simply not efficient or environmentally friendly.

          The distribution consolidation makes for efficient delivery of hundreds of different products, including non food items, to retail/restaurant outlets in one stop. Coupling better growing methods at large farms with market driven transportation efficiency, that is what will really make the environmental footprint smaller.

          Not as romantic as the small farmer story, but much more realistic.

          1. interesting

            I had never really thought about the efficiency of the transportation especially when calcuated for quantity of goods moved.  I will read more. thanks for sharing.  I go a couple times a month but I really lost a lot of interest when I figured out most of it is not organic.  and, as someone said, it is not a bargain.  But it is usually tastier.  Maybe this year I will grow enough not to need to go!

  3. How far is “local” to Evanston?

    The concept of a "local farm" should strike Evanstonians as ludicrous, given where we live.

    I was curious about just how local these farms were, so I checked the list of vendors at last year's market (available at http://www.cityofevanston.org/evanston-life/farmers-market/vendors/) and the answer is "not all that local".  In terms of produce (fruit, veggies, that stuff), the closest producer I could find to Evanston was in Burlington WI.

    Out of the 51 vendors listed, HALF of them travel more than 50 miles to get to the market, and 19 of them go more than 100 miles (most of the fruit comes from Berrien Co MI).  The longest trip I found was for a cheesemaker in Darlington WI, who roundtripped over 300 miles to sell you cheese.  (I don't know how many times he'd done that during the market season.)  The other half of the listed vendors were artisans, food processors, or garden-supply/greenhouse operators.

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