City Council approves updated rules for farmers’ market


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz attends a city meeting. Bobkiewicz said the city was trying to keep up with current practices in an ordinance passed Monday that changes Evanston Farmers’ Market rules.

Billy Kobin, Reporter

Aldermen unanimously agreed Monday to allow non-Evanston bakers to sell products at the Downtown Evanston Farmers’ Market.

Although non-Evanston bakers and “cooperative farmers” — farmers that share land or farm together in a community — have sold their products at the market for several years, the vote pulled the ordinance in line with past arrangements. The new ordinance additionally clarifies that vendors can sell baked goods after the previous rules left out baked goods as allowed products.

City officials announced last March that they would not implement a ban on non-Evanston bakers at the 2016 market despite agreeing internally to a ban during summer 2015. The proposed ban, which was based on complaints from some Evanston bakeries that too many out-of-town bakers operated at the market, did not give affected non-Evanston bakers enough time to make other arrangements for the 2016 season, according to city staff.

“Upon inquiry, I learned this change in rule was not shared in a timely basis by city staff with the bakers or the Friends of the Evanston Farmers’ Market,” city manager Wally Bobkiewicz wrote in March.

Bobkiewicz then asked Lawrence Hemingway, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department — which runs the market — to work with groups on updating the language of the ordinance to make clear how non-Evanston bakers and baked goods could be part of the market.

According to council documents, Hemingway visited other local farmers’ markets over the past few months to determine how they operated and whether they had restrictions on non-local vendors participating in markets. Hemingway concluded that other markets had large numbers of both local and non-local vendors and no restrictions on non-local vendors.

City staff worked with Friends of the Evanston Farmers’ Market and used survey feedback to help update the ordinance, council documents state. Cooperative farmers, like out-of-town bakers, had sold products at the Evanston market in the past, even though the past rules did not include them.

“We’re trying to reflect what the current practices are,” Bobkiewicz said on Monday.

Dusan Katic is the head baker at Katic Breads, a family-run bakery in Aurora, Illinois, that has set up at Evanston’s market for the past two years. Katic said his family was relieved after the city announced last March that it would not ban non-Evanston bakers from the market, which begins in May.

“What happened in the end was our customers definitely had our back,” he said. “You saw a handful of politicians trying to push this and then … customers shouting them down.”

Katic said his mother represents the bakery at the Evanston market and has grown to love the customers there. He said Katic Breads plans on selling at the market in the future, and the success of the partnership helps the bakery decide if it should possibly open a location in Evanston in the future.

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