Agnes Lee/Daily Northwestern
The Downtown Evanston Farmers’ Market opened its 46th season on Saturday after local businesses cultivated product lineups, outlined COVID-19 policies and packed trucks.
The market will run Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. from now until Nov. 6 at the corner of University Place and Oak Avenue. To mitigate the risk of COVID-19, it will be open from 7 to 7:30 a.m. to seniors and immunocompromised shoppers.
Manager Myra Gorman said the market is implementing the same COVID-19 procedures used in 2020, including a no-touch market, handwashing stations, masking and social distancing.
Gorman said the Link program, which provides individuals who qualify for food stamps increased buying power in the market, will continue to be helpful cost-saving measures.
“We are matching up to $25 for every Link customer, so customers now have twice the amount of money to buy things that are both locally grown and (are) healthier options,” Gorman said.
In addition to the logistical preparations of the market, local vendors also worked to prepare their product lineups for the opening.
The Talking Farm, an urban farm located in Skokie, has been selling at the Evanston Farmers’ Market since 2016 In response to customer feedback, The Talking Farm is offering a wider variety of produce compared to previous years, according to Patrick Dahl, the director of farm operations.
Shoppers can expect to see fall squash, brussel sprouts, peas and zucchini at the Talking Farm’s stand this year. The farm chose to add a selection of ingredients that residents can use to create full meals.
“It’s not only about selling our produce,” Dahl said. “The market provides that pathway to communicate with a wider audience about our mission of trying to promote local food and sustainable agriculture.”
Smits Farms, an herb and vegetable garden located in Chicago Heights, has been planting in the field for the past three weeks and preparing its trucks ahead of opening day.
Kayla Biegel, the Smits farmers’ market manager, said she is optimistic about the upcoming season, citing the strong support the market provides.
“We saw that last year, especially with COVID, it was uncertain how the market would look and how we would do this safely,” Biegel said. “But people showed up, they were there to support and we were really grateful.”
Regina Sant’Anna, co-founder of Kombucha Brava, said this will be her fourth year selling her locally-made kombucha at the market. As a market vendor, she said community members and participating vendors remain dedicated to the market. One vendor, Sant’Anna said, went straight to their wedding after the farmers’ market.
Sant’Anna said farmers’ markets provide local sustainable food — which is important because healthy eating is an investment in oneself, she said.
“I wish everyone had access to the farmers’ market and to shop there,” Sant’Anna said. “There’s an incredible sense of community between the vendors and there’s such a diversity of products.”
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