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The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

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Harvesting community, culture

Evanston Farmers’ Market, a 48-year tradition
Wilmette+and+Evanston+residents+buy+corn+from+the+Evanston+Farmers+Market.
Emma Thomas
Wilmette and Evanston residents buy corn from the Evanston Farmers’ Market.

As bees greeted budding flowers this past spring, the Evanston community was abuzz as the farmers market opened for the 2023 season.

The Evanston Farmers’ Market was founded in 1975 by Harriet Friedlander, and has been a constant part of the local community. For the past 48 years, the market has offered a plethora of products such as fresh produce, dairy products, baked goods and flowers.

As of 2023, new ideas and community impacts have sprung. The market features 58 vendors who reflect the diverse values and interests of Evanston residents. Artists display their creations and works of art alongside the sound of performances by local musicians. Children ages two-10 can enjoy weekly activities to get further acquainted with healthy food options courtesy of the spud club, a kids program dedicated to being a guided pathway to expand children’s knowledge of fresh foods.

In addition to being a pillar for Evanston residents, the market is economically supportive of local small businesses. Amy Amorosa, owner of Anomaly by Amy, has been working at the farmers’ market for 15 years.

“Compared to some things like the big street festivals, the overhead isn’t as much and it’s nice because I come early and I get out by two o’clock… [At the farmers’ market] people are wholesome and shopping for their veggies,” Amorosa says. “The market is a huge part of my business. I’ve been doing it for 15 years. I have a huge following here that come back over and over again, either for themselves or for gifts. So it’s a very lucrative market for me.”

Adding on to the market’s wholesome atmosphere, the sounds of “homegrown” musicians fill the air alongside the smells of fresh bread. If Evanston musicians are interested in being featured at the market, they need only reach out to sign up in the spring to have their talent showcased.

“It brings a kind of nice calmness to the market when they’re playing in the background,” Evanston Farmers’ Market manager Myra Gorman says.

Gorman, an Evanston alum herself, has been in her role for years, and even designed the Spud Club to make the market inclusive and engaging for children. The Spud Club is one of many contributions that Gorman has made to the community throughout her career with the City of Evanston.

“We do see more families coming to the market with their children; we have a children’s club  called the Spud Club. The kids get a little name badge and every time they come, we stamp their tag. Once they fill up all the stars, they get something out of our bushel basket. We try to have activities related to good eating and the healthy plate by the USDA. We see more kids wanting to come to the market,” Gorman says.

Furthermore, the Spud Club is managed by Evanston Township High School students. The club is sustained through a mutually supportive relationship with the high school, providing student workers with hands-on working experience with Evanston youth.

“I always try to encourage students if they’re looking for a job to contact me in the spring,

Gorman says. “It’s a great first job. You’re outside and you’re around a lot of people. It’s just a pleasant environment to be in.”

“I’ve learned a lot of people skills, [especially] working with children,” student worker Eva Hansen reflects.

Not only is the environment friendly to all, young and old alike, but the products are not what are found in a normal supermarket. Different fruits, vegetables, and other fresh produce that may be difficult to import to supermarkets are grown fresh locally and extended to Evanston residents. Marcel King, a produce farmer who helps run a stand full of fresh fruits and vegetables shares his experience with the tight-knit community within the farmers’ market.

“I’ve met quite a few people who come back year after year, and even every week,” King says.

Farmers and residents create strong bonds through a generational relationship.

“It’s not uncommon to see a family come in to wish a farmer a happy birthday and bring a birthday cake, because they’ve known these farmers for two generations,” Gorman voices.

An added component to supporting local small business and other resources, the Evanston market has food stamp programs to provide community-wide access to healthy produce. In whole, the market has given close to 60,000 dollars worth of food through grants from the USDA.

The market’s significance has extended beyond Evanston; it has been awarded the best farmer’s market in the Chicago suburban area for the past eight years. Additionally, it has been featured in EatingWell magazine as the top market in Illinois.

“Lots of people came to see what we were doing in Evanston so that they could open up their markets by our example. I hope the market continues to grow and provide the services that we need for our community,” Gorman reflects.

The Evanston Farmers’ Market is a melody of artists, musicians, farmers, bakers and many more. Since its inception, the market has been a place where all are welcome to enjoy a Saturday morning together among their Evanston neighbors.

“Evanstonians love their farmers’ market,” Gorman says. “Even in the early spring, when it’s really rainy, people [still] come out just to be at the market, because it’s their sign that summer is around the corner.”

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About the Contributor
Emma Thomas
Emma Thomas, Photographer
Hey there! My name is Emma Thomas (she/her). I am a freshman and a photographer. This is my first year on The Evanstonian and I am so excited. I wanted to be a photographer for The Evanstonian because I wanted to try something new and I think it will be a fun and meaningful experience! Outside of the newspaper I really enjoy skateboarding and playing the drums. I also love to travel, spend time with friends and family and read.
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