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.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Remove the restrictions
    Another counterproductive rule dreamed up by city staff to limit consumer choice. Rather than come to the market and compete on quality, apparently these local businesses find it more convenient to lobby the city to ban the competition. The city council should act on this and institute the same rules for baked goods that apply to everything else sold at the market.

    1. REMOVE RESTRICTIONS! This is counterproductive indeed!
      Who thought this up? I know that at least some of these places offer items that cannot be found at the Evanston bakeries, particularly from Defloured (which caters to folks who look for gluten free items), and Sheekar Delights (the sole product sold is the most delicious baklava I’ve ever tasted). It is distressing that city staff are overriding public choice, and trying to prevent some of the stars of previous Evanston Farmers Markets from participating. This decision needs to be reversed before the Farmers Market opens in May.

    2. Pies in season

      Apple pie, cherry pie, peach pie — it's called "adding value by manufacture", and through the years at the Evanston Farmers' Market I've recognized that value time after time as I reach the far end of the vendor's table closest to University Place and can choose the option of Indiana fruit already transformed into a baked and ready pie of the season.  Are these targeted for prohibition also?

    3. A look at the ordinance

      The full Evanston Farmers Markets Ordinance can be found on Friends Evanston Farmers Markets website:

      This ordinance was reviewed and updated in 2011 by the city of Evanston and FEFM. It does not say that only Evanston bakeries can sell at the market. It states that bakeries selling at the market must be licensed by the city of Evanston.

      — Vikki Proctor, President, FEFM


    4.  They deny us choice

       Well put. They limit other vendors in ways that limit competition and deny us choice as well.

  2. Do the right thing: Allow all bakers to sell at the Evanston Mkt

    I certainly hope that Evanston does the right thing and reinstates all the bakers that were admitted to the 2016 market.  [btw, it's pretty sleazy for the City Manager to blame his staff for this problem] 

    The crux of the problem seems to be differing interpretations of the phrase "licensed by the City of Evanston" in the ordinance. All bakers have always gotten licensed by the City of Evanston health department.  What other license is needed?

    There's also a big problem with the City Manager's odd notion that it's no longer a farmers market, but a "community market," which should prioritize Evanston brick and mortar businesses. That is 100% wrong! The Evanston Market attacts many people from Chicago, Evanston, and the North Shore precisely because they can buy items there that would otherwise be difficult to find and purchase.  In other words, they want baked goods from Morsels Patisserie, Katic Bread, Defloured, and all the others — not so much from Bennison's and Great Harvest, which they can conveniently patronize every day of the year if they so choose.  

    The city should take another look at its own 2014 study, showing millions of dollars coming to downtown businesses because of all the people attracted to the Saturday Farmers Market.   If the City Manager goes down his wrong-headed path, and people only see Evanston brick-and-mortar businesses at the farmers market, you can bet attendance will decline, and the additional money downtown businesses have enjoyed each Saturday will decline.  

    The best course of action is to permit all 10 bakers admitted to the 2016 market to sell at the market, and to keep it as a farmers market with a wide variety of products for consumers to choose from. 

    1. please communicate with your Alderman
      If you have strong feelings about this issue, please let your Alderman know. The Alderman email addresses are easy to find on the Evanston City website.

    2. Licensed by the Cty of Evanston

      So what other license is needed?   I do not believe that local merchants should face more onerous licensing requirements than the transient ones. 

      Just level the playing field.  It appears, as currently operating, local merchants are at a disadvantage.  So either require more of the transients or require less of the locals.



      1. All businesses whether

        All businesses whether farmers or bakers or tamale and crepe producers are thoroughly vetted by the Market Manager who visits all the facilities and farms that participate in the market.  All ingredients are submitted and products are approved by the City's Health Department prior to bring issued a license.  The local merchants go through the same process as the "transients".

  3. First Food Trucks, Now This

    First food trucks, and now a farmer's market. Guess Evanston businesses are extremely insecure in their product and businesses. How do other towns and cities cope with anyone being able to execute in a free market system? Can't wait to move out of this city within a year.

  4. Bakers

    I'm wondering if the Evanston bakeries sell their products at farmers markets in other communities. If they do (and I suspect they do), then I don't know how they can maintain that they should be the only ones allowed to sell here.

  5. City Government: Stop Picking The Winners
    Seriously…. let the free market decide. Read the comments from your residents on this posting and realize you are playing favorites yet again. If our local retailers have to deal with competition, it forces them to offer a better product. (I also echo the user on here that referenced “gluten free.” Many of our local retailers are still behind on this growing need and they need to catch up. Until they do, I’m forced to make my purchases elsewhere.) You have a blind spot on this topic which is putting “revenue before residents” more often than not. There must be a better way to balance the needs of your tax-paying residents AND our local businesses. Your current way of dealing with economic development stacks the deck in favor of business every time. Yes, we need revenue in this city, but economic development is being given too free a hand at the expense of local neighborhoods. Bring some recognition of this into the conversation because your Evanston residents need representation too.

    1. All for the rest of your post

      All for the rest of your post, but you don't need gluten free unless you have the alergy. Otherwise, gluten free does nothing for people except you are just naturally eating better foods since so many others have gluten.

      But if just bread for example, unless you have the alergy, no difference.

  6. You get what you elect

    This does not surprise me.

    The philosophy of our city goverment is more goverment. Rather than cut back, streamline or privatize city services we get more goverment regulation. With that, we pay more taxes.

    It's absurd to think that only local businesses should participate in the farmer's market. But that's the thought process of our city goverment.

    Last month the city seriously considered upgrading its ridiculous and ineffective rental registration ordinance (yes, if you rent out your property you must be registered with the city though few do register and the city has no way of knowing) to a two-tier rental licensing scheme. The city considered this even though it has no idea how many apartment units are registered in its database. That's right, they don't know how many landlords are registred IN THEIR DATABASE!!! This licensing scheme would have required the hiring of more city inspectors.

    Evanston has too much government. It's time to cut back. We need to elect leaders who are fiscally conservative.

    "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help," Ronald Reagan.


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