Evanston’s Ridgeville Farmers’ Market, despite recent dark and dreadful weather, has been able to shine during the week, allowing the community to see the light to fresher and more natural ingredients.
Now in its fourth year, the market, held at 908 Seward St., brings an innovative approach to the typical farmers’ market every Wednesday, 4-7 p.m.
“Our goal as a market is to avoid processed foods at all costs. We want to make everything as natural as possible, so all of the vendors’ items are freshly made,” explains Michael Miro, the market’s manager.
The Ridgeville Farmers’ Market, founded and still run by the Ridgeville Park District Board, is independent of the City of Evanston.
“The board wanted to host a farmers’ market, but only if it was independent from Evanston. The decision was ultimately put into action because the board [realized that] it benefits the community … especially those who live in southern Evanston,” says Mr. Miro. He adds that the process has been simple: “In the beginning, we contacted many of the vendors, but now many contact the Ridgeville Park District [directly]. The vendors have to pay a fee, which then goes to Ridgeville, but they keep all of their profits.”
Other farmers’ markets in Evanston have traditionally been held early on Saturday mornings, but Ridgeville’s market purposefully stands alone on Wednesdays, hoping to bring a wider range of customers.
“Having the market on a Wednesday allows an alternative to the downtown farmers’ market, creating a different type of atmosphere. It brings a variety of people, especially those who work and don’t want to wake up on those early Saturdays,” says Mr. Miro.
With benefit to the community in mind, Ridgeville enthusiastically accepts new local businesses trying to find their footing in the area.
Leila Manoochehry, co-owner of the PomOlive, a new Mediterranean shop that opened June 13 at the market, says, “What I really like about this market is that it’s a really great place to start a business and sample your products to the public. People [at the Ridgeville market] have been really supportive and nice, which is great for a small business like us.”
Lisa Gordon, owner of Songbird Coffee Roasters, has chosen Ridgeville’s market for the past two years, she says, because of the interaction with customers and the overall environment. “The Ridgeville market is so great because of the location. This neighborhood allows me to directly go to the customers, unlike them having to come to me. All of the vendors work really well together, making it fun for everyone.”
Mr. Miro says the Ridgeville Farmers’ Market has what almost amounts to an “open door” policy. “We open our doors to everyone who is a part of the Evanston community. We work with a lot of non-profit organizations, and we also encourage musicians to play, making the market have more of a festival atmosphere than a traditional one.