May 25, 2020 – The Oak Park Farmers’ Market opens for its 45th season on May 30 with vendor stalls moved from the usual Pilgrim Church parking lot site to nearby streets to allow room for safe social distancing and preorders offered via an online app.
The new approach is based on a public health order issued by Oak Park Public Health Director Mike Charley that includes limitations similar to those governing grocery stores implemented in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus emergency.
“Our goal with this year’s market is to ensure the safety of shoppers and vendors to the greatest extent possible during the pandemic,” Health Director Charley said. “Access to the fresh, locally grown produce has been the hallmark of the Oak Park Farmers’ Market for more than four decades, but protecting the public’s health must necessarily govern our efforts this season.”
How the Market will work
The market will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., starting a half hour later than in past years to provide extra time for the expected 20-plus vendors to set up stalls along Scoville Avenue, South Boulevard and East Avenue.
Patrons will be required to enter on foot at Scoville and Lake and exit at East and Lake. Free parking will be available in the Oak Park River Forest High School parking lot on Scoville Avenue, just north of Lake Street.
The number of patrons allowed within the sales area at the same time will be limited to ensure safe social distancing is maintained and pedestrian flow will be restricted to one-way travel. And as with grocery stores, patrons will not be allowed to bring reusable bags and face coverings will be required.
Preordering and Pickup
The Pilgrim Church parking lot on Lake Street, west of Elmwood Avenue where the market traditionally is held will be open only for pickup of pre-ordered purchases as part of a pilot program. Patrons who preorder via an online app will drive through the parking lot at an assigned time and their purchases placed in their vehicle trunk.
Shoppers who wish to preorder will need to install an application on a phone, tablet or computer from sourcewhatsgood.com/chicago. Once logged into the app, look for the Oak Park Farmers Market under Chicago Markets, peruse the vendors and their products, and make purchases with a credit or debit card.
Patrons who preorder will be instructed via email to choose a 15-minute pickup window between 9 a.m. and noon. The number of preorders will be limited initially, but may increase as any distribution challenges are identified and the system improved.
SNAP/LINK cards cannot be used for online purchases, but all payment methods, including cash, will be accepted in-person at the Market. Acceptable payment methods may vary by vendor. Matching coupons worth up to $25 will be available to SNAP shoppers at the live Market.
About the donuts
Prepackaged donuts will be available via the whatsgood app as well as at a stand on the west side of Pilgrim Church across from the high school parking garage entrance on Scoville just north of Lake Street. No coffee or other beverages will be available.
Patience, cooperation urged
Charley said he expects this year’s market to pose operational challenges for staff, volunteers, vendors and patrons, adding that with everyone’s patience and cooperation he believes operations will be become smoother with each Saturday throughout the season.
Still, public health will guide all facets of market operations and administration through the 2020 season, according to Charley. The season typically runs through October.
“Anytime one moves beyond their immediate household the risk of contracting the virus increases,” he said. “By wearing masks, keeping a safe distance from others and staying home if you are sick, the Farmers’ Market should be a low-risk environment. We will be doing everything we can to protect the public and we are confident vendors and patrons will do their part as well.”
For more on the Oak Park Farmers’ Market call 708.358.5780, email email@example.com or visit www.oak-park.us/farmersmarket.