May 14, 2018 – Green living and community tradition will intersect when the 43rd season of the Oak Park Farmers’ Market kicks off at 7 a.m., Sat., May 19.
This year will see a renewed focus on shopping sustainably, with shoppers encouraged to bring their own reusable bags and containers to carry home the bounties of nature available at the Market.
In addition to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, bedding plants, honey, cheese, eggs, frozen meat, bread and other baked goods, the Market also features donuts made on-site, fresh coffee and live bluegrass music.
The dynamic, open-air, producer-only market is held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. rain or shine every Saturday from opening day through October. The Market takes place in the Pilgrim Congregational Church parking lot, 460 Lake St., one block west of Ridgeland Avenue.
New to the Market in 2018
This year, 27 permanent vendors from across the region will bring their organic and locally sourced goods to the Oak Park Farmers' Market. Some vendors have been Market fixtures for decades, while others are newer to the scene.
Two new permanent vendors this year are American Pride Microfarm and Brian Severson Farms. American Pride offers year-round, naturally grown microgreens and farm fresh quail eggs. Brian Severson Farms offers certified organic grains such as flours, meals, grits, rolled oats and corn.
Market officials note that some crops may be harvested a few weeks late this year due to the unusually cold spring, but they point to several vendors whose year-round growing practices, preservation kitchens and jarred items make a visit to the Market early in the season worthwhile.
The Market will also host guest vendors throughout the season. Bushel and Peck’s (pickles, jams, sauces, relishes) and Green Fire Farm (organic grass-fed beef, pastured heritage pork and poultry products) are the two guest vendors scheduled to be on hand opening day.
Information about all of this year’s vendors is available under the “Meet the Farmers” section at www.oak-park.us/farmersmarket or by downloading the 2018 Market map.
A majority of vendors now accept credit/debit cards, as well as WIC and senior coupons. All vendors accept LINK cards.
Go Green Days kicks off series of special events
Several special events are featured at the Market throughout the season, starting with Go Green Days on opening day and May 26.
Highlights for Go Green Days include seed potting for children, demonstrations from local environmental organizations and information about the Village’s composting and recycling programs. Guests on opening day can check out a native bee demonstration from Thad Smith, founder of Westside Bee Boyz, LLC., and the University of Illinois Master Gardeners will be on hand to offer a worm and soil interactive display May 26.
Market guests are encouraged to bike to opening day. Local bike shops and non-profit organizations will be pumping bike tires and offering free safety checks. Guests who show their bike helmet at the Market Information Tent will receive a prize.
Members of the Village Board and the Village’s Environment & Energy Commission will also be on hand during Go Green Days to pass out a limited supply of free reusable bags and discuss public policy with residents.
Other special events scheduled throughout the season include the annual Corn Roast on Aug. 11, a pie-baking contest on Sept. 1 and stone soup served at the final Market of the year Oct. 27.
Children’s activities typically are held the second and fourth Sunday of each month, starting with activities hosted by the Oak Park Conservatory on June 9 and the Chicago Botanic Garden on June 23.
Non-profit bake sales will be offered each Saturday as well as occasional cooking demonstrations featuring chefs from local restaurants. The first cooking demonstration of the season takes place from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on opening day when chef Sieger Bayer from The Heritage offers samples of his gourmet spring salads.
A rundown of upcoming Market events can be found under the “This month at the Farmers’ Market” section at www.oak-park.us/farmersmarket.
To help support Market administration, a variety of items will be sold at the information tent, including reusable shopping bags, t-shirts and travel mugs.
Bring your bag
In January the Village instituted a local ordinance requiring retail stores of 5,000 square feet or greater to charge customers 10 cents for each single-use paper or plastic bag provided at the checkout counter.
While Farmers’ Market vendors are exempt from the 10-cent fee, Market officials are encouraging shoppers to bring their own bags in an effort to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags distributed from week to week. In keeping with the spirit of the ordinance, several Market vendors have decided to distribute compostable plastic bags to shoppers who don’t have a reusable bag.
This focus on sustainability also extends to bringing containers from home to transport small produce items like berries and bringing reusable cups for coffee and drinks.
Find more information about the Village’s single-use bag initiative, including a list of 10 locations in Oak Park where free reusable bags are available, at www.oak-park.us/bringyourbag.
For more information about the Farmers’ Market, call 708.358.5780, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.oak-park.us/farmersmarket.