Farmers’ Market opens in North Chicago; “This is real progress” – Chicago Tribune
A year ago, North Chicago was a food wasteland with no grocery stores or farmers’ markets. Now the town has both, as George’s Fresh Market opened in October and customers bought fresh produce picked Friday night or Saturday when the farmer’s market opened on Sunday.
“It’s fabulous,” said Charlene Greene of Waukegan. “I’ve never tasted anything so fresh,” she added, referring to produce picked less than 36 hours before. “I’ve never tried organic before, so it will be interesting to see what it looks like.”
The North Chicago Farmers’ Market opened Sunday at Vision Park on Lewis Avenue with vendors selling freshly picked corn, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and more — some very local — and it will nearly double from size this weekend.
Maryam Wood, who operates a farm in Wadsworth, said she was a consultant to market organizers. She harvested some of the produce late Friday and Saturday. For items like corn, which is not ready to be picked in northern Illinois, a field trip was required.
“He’s from southern Indiana,” Wood said. “I have a cousin who farms there. I meet him halfway and we transfer the corn and other vegetables to my vehicle.”
Michael Brankin, a North Chicago resident who organized the market, said between 400 and 500 people visited the stalls on Sunday. It will be open every Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. until October 16.
There were 10 vendors at the original market selling fresh produce, coffee, plants, popcorn, grilled items made at the stall, and handmade crafts. Brankin said this Sunday there will be eight additional stalls offering baked goods, honey, pizza, candy and crystal.
“It’s really going to move as word spreads,” Brankin said. “There was a lot of word of mouth. We will be even bigger next year.
North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham, Jr. said last fall’s addition of groceries to the Sunday Farmer’s Market gives residents two great reasons to shop locally and support city-based businesses.
“It’s real progress,” Rockingham said. “It’s great to have a farmers market in north Chicago. We need healthy food that people can buy here. This gives us more local shopping in North Chicago.
Anita McCrory of North Chicago said she had been to the farmers’ markets in Mundelein and Libertyville and was glad to have one in her hometown. Along with the fresh produce and other produce, it gives it a sense of community.
“I love it,” McCrory said. “I see more people than I know here. It is a place where the community comes together. »
Sylvia England, a Waukegan resident who has her own community garden across the street from her home, said she was happy to have the opportunity to buy fresh produce. She took the opportunity to buy some.
“Freshness is what I need,” England said. ” I do not eat meat. There’s no place in Waukegan to get it. It’s much better than going to the store.
When Brankin came up with the idea of starting a farmers market in the area, he planned to do it in downtown Waukegan. Together with Josh Beadle, the executive director of Waukegan Main Street, they began working with city officials in the winter, but were unable to reconcile their plans with the existing ordinance for public events.
Beadle said he’s been working with the city to figure out a way to come up with an ordinance that will work for an event that’s held on the same day every week for more than four months in the spring, summer and fall.
Waukegan Mayor Ann Taylor said she hopes to see a farmers market in Waukegan next year. She was disappointed with the efforts of the city and the organizers which did not succeed, because bringing “fresh food from local and regional producers” can provide “an attractive new equipment for the city center”.
“Now we have to look to the future,” Taylor said in an email. “We will spend the next few months working with organizers to ensure the Farmers Market is up and running in the spring of 2023. It is of the utmost importance to me and everyone at City Hall that we find a way to make it work.
Brankin said he hopes to tap a market next year in Waukegan and North Chicago.