Farmers markets in spotlight at first harvest celebration

Audrey Cheng

At Thursday’s first annual Evanston Harvest Celebration , about 50 Evanston area residents ate gourmet delicacies made with produce from Evanston’s farmers markets.

A $75 reservation landed diners inside Now We’re Cookin’ commercial kitchen, 1601 Payne St., Regional chefs prepared everything from apple-filled crepes with goat milk cajeta to eggplant and apple ratatouille with poached eggs.

The event featured guests of honor Harriet Friedlander, the founder of the Evanston Farmers Market, and Roy Elko, one of the five farmers who were present at Evanston’s very first farmers market in 1965.

Elko said he braves all forms of weather and drives three hours every week – past other farmers markets – to bring his produce to sell in Evanston.

“It’s just that I like the people here,” he said. “Because I’ve been here so long, I know the people.”

Elko added he is proud to say he owns one of the few family farms left, highlighting the fact that the only farmhands on his 116-acre farm include him and his wife.

Among the guests attending the Evanston Harvest Celebration included Elko’s daughter, Carrie, who graduated from Northwestern two years ago.

She laughed when her father said the last time he had a day off was 14 years ago.

After Elko and Friedlander were presented with their formal certificates of appreciation, the event carried on with a presentation of a wall of news articles touting the achievements of the farmers and the market’s history.

The event was created to bring awareness to and raise funds for Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets, a nonprofit organization aimed to “increase the visibility, popularity, and prosperity” of the city’s markets, according to the group’s website.

Ann McMahon, the celebration’s organizer, said the event was very successful. However, she said she did not know whether the event will be held again next year.

The Downtown Evanston Farmers’ Market, which offers goods ranging from produce to flowers to baked items, is held 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday at the intersection of University Place and Oak Avenue.

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