The tangy hint of the farmer’s field scented the berries from Geneva Lakes Produce, the sole produce vendor at the opening day of the West End Market on June 14. A steady flow of shoppers visited the new market, many of them promising to return over the summer. Some came from curiosity, some to show support of this new grassroots project, and some came because they knew fresh produce would be available just a short walk from home.

Schona Buranda brought a cousin visiting from Zimbabwe, enjoying both the fresh produce and the local crafts for sale. David and Rosine Trippel were among the many shoppers whose purchases gave Steve Beno, who brought the produce to the market, “an average” day. He said, though, he is “expecting more” as the summer progresses and more people come to the market.

William Logan, retired police chief and member of Evanston Community Development Corporation (ECDC), a partner in the market, said a woman told him she was excited to be able to walk to a market rather than take a bus to the larger farmers’ market just north of the downtown area.

Melanie Davis, a member of the vendor-relations committee for the market, said, “We know the market is going to improve, because people said they’d be back next week.” In addition to the expected increase in patrons, Ms. Davis says the market group plans to add vendors – two or three farmers and up to 10 local crafts-persons – and to provide “low-key entertainment.”

The idea of a fresh-food market on the City’s west side had been floating around the neighborhood for a number of years It was one of several suggestions by the not-for-profit organization ECDC, which promotes economic development and neighborhood preservation and enhancement in the Church/Dodge area. Bringing the market to reality was a project of one group of the most recent class of Leadership Evanston; they provide the volunteer staffing and coordination among vendors, ECDC and other participants.

As at the downtown farmers’ market, members of the League of Women Voters of Evanston were on hand to register voters and provide information about voting. The market’s organizers plan to have a voter-registration booth at the market each Saturday.

With people chatting in small groups, making purchases and promising to return, Susan Besson, one of the organizers of the market said, “It could not have been a better day.”

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...