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New market rules frost bakers

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New rules for Evanston's downtown farmers market designed to limit sellers of baked goods to Evanston-based businesses have more than a half-dozen other bakers feeling left out in the cold.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says city staff developed the new rules during the market season last year but that "the change was not communicated by staff as clearly as it should have been to be respectful of all those involved."

So now, Bobkiewicz says, he's asking Lawrence Hemingway, the city's newly-appointed parks and recreation director, to work out a compromise with the bakery vendors and the volunteer Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets group for this year.

Beyond that, the city manager says, the city needs to have "a much larger review" of the market ahead of the 2017 season.

Lawrence Hemingway — gets to sort out the pastry dispute.

The fight over pies and other baked goods reflects what Bobkiewicz says is the growing popularity and broadening appeal of the market.

"At one point it was primarily just farm-grown produce for sale," he said, "but now its a whole variety of different things."

He said there's been concern among Evanston businesses that pay taxes and have employees here about the out-of-town competition, and also about how to handle start-up entrepreneurs who are selling baked goods or crafts or soap but don't have a bricks-and-mortar store.

"By most measures, it's not a farmers market any more, but as a community market we have to set different rules," Bobkiewicz added.

Under the city code the only baked good authorized for sale at the farmers market is bread "made from all fresh ingredients and processd on-site" at a food establishment licensed by the City of Evanston.

But in practice the market has permitted out-of-town bakers to sell at the market for the past several years.

For other food categories the code's definition of what's locally produced and thus eligible for sale at the market is much broader — including 11 midwestern states.

The downtown farmers market, at University Place and Oak Avenue, is scheduled to open for its 41st season on Saturday, May 7.

The farmers market bakers that would be shut out if only Evanston-based firms are allowed include Defloured Bakery, 1477 W. Balmoral Ave., Chicago; Dulce Caramel, 437 Thorndale Court, Buffalo Grove; Katic Breads, 605 Plum St., Aurora;  Letizia's Fiore, 2456 N. California Ave, Chicago; Marilyn's Bakery, 8960 E. Ridge Road, Hobart, Indiana; Morsel's Patisserie of Chicago; Sheekar Delights, 3058 Crestwood Lane, Glenview, and Sweetie Pies Bakery, 8042 N Lincoln Ave, Skokie.


Update 4:10 p.m.: In an email message this afternoon, City Manager Bobkiewicz said the market this year will have nine bakers as vendors and that he's asked Parks and Recreation Director Hamingway to work with all interested parties this spring and summer to come up with new regulations for operation of the market that would be presented to City Council as amendments to the city code no later than Nov. 1.

"It is my goal," Bobkiewicz said, "that the market reflect the needs and standards of the community into the future and that rules be esstablished that are fair to all concerned."

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