Evanston’s West End Market this morning opens its third season of bringing farm-fresh produce to the city’s west side.

The market will be open 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 30. Today there’ll also be live entertainment at the market at the intersection of Church Street and Dodge Avenue from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. And the market also offers west side entrepreneurs a chance to sell baked goods, handmade products and other items.

William Logan, chairman of the Evanston Community Development Corporation, which runs the market, says a new focal point this year will be Second Chance Produce, a collaborative effort of ECDC, the Boocoo cultural center and local churches.

Second Chance offers ex-offenders the opportunity to learn marketing and business management techniques while tending a small farm plot behind Boocoo at 1823 Church St.

Logan, a retired Evanston police chief, says the west side market faces challenges introducing fresh produce to a population “that is extremely budget conscious and believes their dollar goes farther with processed packaged goods.”

In a letter to ECDC supporter Logan adds that most other venues neighborhood residents encounter — from schools to community events — also use “low-cost processed meats, chips, cookies and sugared drinks.” And switching to fresh produce means means introducing new cooking methods “to families overburdened by daily tasks.”

He says the market will provide educational fliers each week to help customers understand “how to purchase goods in season at the best price, extend their shelf life with proper storage and enhance their flavor with easy recipes.”

The market will also offer a prepayment program this year to let  neighbors sign up for free delivery of locally grown produce from the Second Chance program.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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