For many residents of Evanston, summer mornings mean combing through the farmers’ market, searching for fresh and delicious produce that seems so much better than the stuff from the grocery. For those Evanstonians the upcoming winter might just be a bit less bleak.
The City will this have its own indoor farmers’ market at Evanston Ecology Center in the Ladd Arboretum, 2024 McCormick Blvd., from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., beginning Dec. 3 and running each Saturday through late April (it will be closed Dec. 24 and Dec. 31).
The market was the brainchild of Dennis Clarkson, owner of Crust and Crumb Bakers, who has been selling artisan breads at farmers’ markets in the area.
When last summer began to wind down, Mr. Clarkson said, he began weighing his options on how to get through the difficult winter months.
“I realized I had two options — I could go into the wholesale business, or I could figure out some way that I could keep doing [the farmers’ market business] year-round,” he said.
He had no problem tracking down vendors interested in participating alongside him in a winter market. Though the growing season might be long past, many growers have innovative ways to peddle their wares year-round. Apple orchards, for example, can sell cider all through the winter, while tomato growers sell sauces or soups. Mushroom growers are similarly active year-round, according to Mr. Clarkson.
The main obstacle for the market initially seemed to be finding a proper venue. It had originally been planned for 1615 Oak Ave., but in October attorneys for the estate that owns the building said they were worried the venture would be “too risky an endeavor for the short time we wanted to use it,” said Mr. Clarkson.
“I [then] scoured Evanston for a proper building,” he added.
But the City was cooperative and excited about a winter market; before long the project was able to move into the Ecology Center. “The City of Evanston has rallied around this idea quite nicely,” Mr. Clarkson said. “They really cleared the board for us.”
Among the vendors Mr. Clarkson said he expects will participate are Lake Breeze Organics, Tomato Mountain, Valley Ranch, Brunkow Cheese, Michigan Blueberries, C & D Family Farms, Patz Honey, Wayne Miller Fruits and Preserves, Laura’s Mentoring Gardens, De La Rue Patisserie, Defloured, Passion House Coffee and Ruth & Phil’s Ice Cream, among others.
“I was going to include some vendors offering various arts and crafts things, but there was not enough space in the Ecology Center,” Mr. Clarkson said, adding that he is confident that Evanstonians will take to the idea of a winter market.
“Evanston is a really unique community,” Mr. Clarkson said.
“There are five farmers’ markets here during the regular season; people are educated to the fact that you are eating local and you are eating more healthy — all these things play into a community that supports this kind of idea.”