As the board of Friends of the Evanston Farmers Market, a 501(c )3 organization, we are concerned about the draft Evanston Thrives report that recommends relocating the Evanston Farmers Market to Fountain Square. In 2021, the Downtown Evanston association had suggested moving the market to Fountain Square. This idea was ultimately rejected by the City of Evanston.
We recognize that the current market location, a parking lot space owned by Northwestern University, might be sold and developed in the future; the market would need to relocate. Relocation is not the primary issue.
Our concerns about this report are as follows:
- Ignoring the expertise of Myra Gorman, manager of the Evanston Farmers Market for the past 12 years. Myra was not asked to participate in the Evanston Thrives report. In 2021 she and our group, FEFM, had been promised a “seat at the table” by then Parks & Recreation Director Lawrence Hemingway.
- Ignoring the needs of the market vendors and shoppers. The farmers, vendors and market shoppers have not been contacted by the Downtown Evanston association or the city’s economic development department even though the market is managed by the city. In 2021, FEFM surveyed market vendors and shoppers and shared those results with city officials and the public. Results were also published in FEFM’s weekly newsletter.
The Evanston Farmers Market currently provides the following necessities and conveniences to vendors, shoppers and farmers:
- Vendors have adequate space to sell.
- Shoppers enjoy adjoining and free accessible parking.
- Shoppers enjoy safe shopping.
- Farmers have quick access to their trucks throughout the day.
- Farmers who arrive as early as 3 a.m. to set up can do so without disturbing nearby residents.
We advocate for the integrity of the market. We give a voice to the local farmers and small businesses who work hard to bring their wares to Evanston, to make sure they have the environment and supports they need to conduct their business.
We urge concerned Evanston residents to contact their alders by phone, email or in person to voice their concern. We urge devotees of the market who do not live in Evanston to contact Mayor Biss (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Don’t let this poorly designed proposal irreparably ruin one of Evanston’s shining jewels.
Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets Board: Cindee Bath, Nancy Chapman, Damita Cravens, Nancy Graham, Emily Guthrie, Abigail Pickus, Vikki Proctor
I live close to Fountain Square but am happy to walk farther in order to go to a robust market with many vendors. When running the market, Myra Gorman always considers the needs of both the shoppers and vendors. Fountain Square should only be used for a smaller, additional weekday market in the late afternoon or early evening.
Folks, you should not be so upset. This is typical Evanston government. Higher a consultant, pay top dollar and sh.Ty suggestions on changing things that work well. Just look at fountain square with a non working fountain or the brick pavers in downtown. That is the way our town rolls.
I sent this e-mail to our mayor Biss:
Moving our Evanston Farmers Market is a VERY BAD idea! We have enjoyed shopping there for years. Ms. Gorman has made “OUR MARKET” a clean, safe & convenient place to shop! We live in downtown Evanston & we do NOT look forward to hearing all of the farmers unloading all of the products underneath our bedroom windows before dawn on Sunday mornings in the summer! Please remember how Ms. Gorman arranged the Market to safely shop during Covid. It has always been a CLEAN & SAFE place to shop for all members of our family, both adults & our children!
Fred Tanenbaum & Barbara Bernstein
I’ve only been to the Farmers Market a small number of times, before the pandemic shutdowns; but agree with all the reasons for opposition to putting it in Fountain Square.
Morning the Farmer’s Market to Fountain Square would utterly ruin it. Such a move would make it harder for us loyal customer to shop and INFINITELY harder for the farmers to set up, re-stock and pack up at the end of the day. I can think a few that I would bet money on seriously reconsidering coming to the Evanston market if such a move were made. If the parking lot is lost at some point to development and the market HAD to move there are MANY other more suitable locations than the Fountain Square area. I know at one point the argument was made that it would bring traffic to the businesses in the area. IMHO this is a pipe dream. Many folks ride their bikes to the market, leaving no room for other shopping. I drive due to both the distance I live away and the shear weight of what I buy every week. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I’d go do other shopping while my lovely fresh food bakes in my car. Leave the market where it is until such a time as moving is actually necessary.
I agree that Fountain Sq is too small and fraught with other negative considerations for the wonderful Saturday Market to be held there. But it would be fun, and useful, to have an additional smaller market there – maybe on a Wed or Thurs afternoon/evening?
I was so aggravated by the ridiculousness of the Thrives Report, complete with glossy drawings, I didn’t even notice the suggestion to put the Farmer’s Market in Fountain Square, an insane idea! All customers would have to schlep their produce blocks to a garage? and the consultants believe customers will do that and then spend hours more in Evanston shopping, all the while paying premium prices for parking?
I think one of the city’s worst recent ideas, btw, was to eliminate the first hour free parking at the city garages downtown…that was what allowed Farmers’ Market shoppers to get in and out quickly and easily, without paying for the parking.
The amount of money wasted on consultant studies that don’t consider the folks who actively live, work, or shop in Evanston is beyond pathetic.
The Evanston Farmer’s Market is a shining light for the city and is nicely located near parking and convenient for all. Putting it into Fountain Square, while a nice thought to prop up an otherwise inactive downtown area, would be quite impractical for the vendors and the shoppers.
If the parking lot is at risk of being sold, then perhaps it would be a wise investment for the city to purchase the lot and ensure a continuous location for the Market, or approach Northwestern for a donation of the lot to the city.
Otherwise, relocating to the Square would reduce the number of vendors (where would they park their produce trucks?) thereby reducing the vitality of the market and the number of shoppers. Perhaps adding an adjunct Fountain Square location to the current one would be interesting.
We live in downtown Evanston, Residence at Sherman Plaza. We ABSOLUTLY against the market moving here. The noise starting early in the morning, There is NO ROOM here for the number of farmers that have come to Evanston for many years! Ms. Gorman has managed our market for many years. Not contacting Ms. Gorman & discussing this issue with her & some of the farmers is WRONG!
The idea that putting the market in Fountain Square will bring more retail shoppers to downtown Evanston is grossly misguided. Market shoppers buy their bags of fruit, vegetables, plants etc, load up their cars and take it all home. People will simply go to other Saturday markets, where they can park close to the stalls and not risk life and limb getting to and leaving the market. Same for the vendors – plus Fountain Square is too small. I’m guessing that the people proposing this disastrous idea are not regulars at the market.
We agree it’s a ridiculous idea and the study itself is a waste of our money.