Evanston Farmers’ Market finishes 45th season


Natalie Wu/The Daily Northwestern

Josiah Klinedinst of J2K Capraio selects cheese for a customer. Market attendees stocked up on food for the winter at the last Evanston Farmers’ Market of the season.

Natalie Wu, Reporter

Shoppers came from all around, entering the market nestled between two tall buildings and a parking garage. Myra Gorman, the market manager, scurried around making sure everything was compliant with COVID-19 protocol.

“Sir, you need a mask,” Gorman said, pointing at an unmasked shopper. “Put your shirt over your mouth.”

Thousands turned up to shop at the last Evanston Farmers’ Market of the year on Saturday. This year, the market looked a lot different as organizers worked to implement necessary health protocols. Arrows guided shoppers in a safe and efficient manner, while shoppers were asked to stand six feet apart when in line.

While Evanston will not have an indoor market this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, some vendors will move to the Logan Square Farmers Market in Chicago to sell goods through the winter months.

Gorman said the crowds were typical for a busy day at the farmers’ market, as vendors see an average of four to five thousand shoppers every Saturday. But the 70 degree weather was out of the ordinary for a November market, she said.

“Because the weather is so good, I think we’re getting a lot of people coming up to the last day,” Gorman said. “If it was a normal November, it’d be 20 degrees; you’d only get the diehards here.”

Lines for stands snaked left and right. Attendees stocked up on fresh produce for the winter while others enjoyed the fresh air with their friends, eating food they had just purchased from one of the dozens of nearby tents.

Gorman said many visitors purchased root vegetables and bread to freeze for the winter. Josiah Klinedinst, owner of the farmstand creamery, J2K Capraio, said he’s also noticed people buying his cheeses in bulk.

Rebecca Gu and Nathaniel Davis, shoppers who drive to Evanston from Chicago every week for the market, were also focused on food that would last. Gu said she planned to store away squash and blanch greens to freeze and enjoy throughout the season.

She and Davis might even try to make some kimchi with their purchases — a dish they’ve only “unsuccessfully” attempted before.

For Gu, attending the Evanston Farmer’s Market has been the “highlight of the pandemic.”

“It’s become a routine for us,” Gu said. “We haven’t missed a single Saturday since the first market.”

While this is their third year in attendance, going to the market has taken on a new meaning amid the pandemic. Cooking has become one of their main hobbies during the pandemic, and the market provides quality ingredients for their recipes.

In a normal year, Evanston would switch over to indoor markets for the winter season. However, Gorman said it would not be possible this year, as the small space and high crowding could potentially facilitate COVID-19’s spread.

However, for those still looking to stock up on locally grown produce, there will be one last farmers’ market in the city, held on Nov. 21 at the First Presbyterian Church of Evanston.

In light of the cancellation, some vendors, like Klinedinst, will move to the Logan Square Farmers Market in Chicago at 3107 W. Logan Blvd.

“The neat part about this winter market is that they’ve opened it up and welcomed vendors from all the summer markets here, so there’s going to be a wide variety of opportunities,” Klinedinst said.

Overall, the Evanston Farmer’s Market’s 45th season has been a great success in spite of the pandemic, Gorman said. In a Facebook post, Gorman said while next year’s format is uncertain, she will make the market happen come spring 2021.

Klinedinst, a first-time vendor, said he’s looking forward to the outdoor market’s return next year.

“Our family and our business appreciate the support,” said Klinedinst. “It allows us to keep doing what we love most, and that’s making good cheese.”

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Twitter: @_nataliewu_

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