Live bluegrass music and fresh donuts certainly help make the Oak Park Farmers’ Market special, but the lifeblood of the Market is undeniably the more than two dozen independent farmers and producers who serve their customers week after week.
The Oak Park Farmers’ Market that began in 1976 with one farmer has since grown into a dynamic, open-air, producer-only market made up of 28 farmers and producers selling a wide variety of products, including seasonal fruits and vegetables, meat, cheese and eggs, bread, flowers and plants, honey, maple syrup and jarred items, grains and dairy products.
By shopping at the Oak Park Farmers’ Market, customers support local farmers and small businesses from the Midwest while helping cut down on the pollution and energy costs of shipping produce long distances.
As demand for local food continues to grow, so too have opportunities for farmers to market fresh food directly to consumers. According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers’ markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on farm-direct products.
This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches.
Produce in supermarkets is often picked seven to 14 days before it becomes available to shoppers and travels an average of 1,200 miles before reaching grocery store shelves. But the locally grown produce sold at farmers’ markets is made available at the peak of freshness and nutrient content.
The Oak Park Farmers’ Market also offers food that most grocery stores don’t stock such as farm-fresh duck eggs, quail eggs, turkey eggs, soy-free chicken eggs, lamb, duck, goat and heirloom tomatoes.
Many farmers accept credit cards as well as subsidized programs such as SNAP/LINK cards, WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons that can help make fresh food affordable.
The Oak Park Farmers’ Market is held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. rain or shine every Saturday from about mid-May through October in the Pilgrim Church parking lot at 460 Lake St., just one block west of Ridgeland Avenue and two blocks from the Ridgeland Green Line CTA station.
For more information, including details about the Market’s vendors, visit www.oak-park.us/farmersmarket, call 708.358.5780 or email email@example.com.
Stone Soup marks end of season
The 44th season of the Oak Park Farmers’ Market comes to a close with stone soup served to patrons at the final Market on Oct. 26. Prepared with ingredients donated by Farmers’ Market vendors, the stone soup is ladled up free of charge from about 9 a.m. until the pot is empty to thank Market customers for their patronage. The tradition of serving stone soup at the last Market of the season was inspired by a European folk tale that has, for hundreds of years, called on people to live generously, even in times of need. A popular version of the stone soup tale is posted online at www.oak-park.us/stonesoup.