Starting a New Market

February 19, 2010 at 5:10 pm

I’m reading The New Farmers’ Market by Vance Corum, Marcie Rosenzweig and Eric Gibson, and the first thing it’s taught me is that we were correct in putting an apostrophe after the “s” in Farmers when naming ourselves the Morton Grove Farmers’ Market. So far so good.

The woman who lent me the book, Kristina Otte, is our manager and visioneering founder. She is the Kevin Costner character in this Field of Dreams concept: “If we build a farmers’ market near Waukegan and Dempster, they will come buy local produce.” All the more apt, I suppose, because Kristina is from the cornfields of Iowa.

We’ve just about booked every Saturday morning with musical entertainment and a sponsor for our Community Connections table. While only a few vendors have submitted their checks, at least a dozen more are in the process of filling out the application form. A specialty organic produce vendor in town asked us what he should start growing in his greenhouses in anticipation of the market. Kristina and I discussed it, and we wouldn’t dare recommend to a farmer what he ought to plant, as we cannot guarantee him that it will sell. While Morton Grove enjoys a diverse population who probably have a variety of vegetable preferences, we can’t be sure everybody will show up. I’d hate for this guy to bring 10 lbs. of pesticide-free daikon radishes that he grew on his land in Indiana only to watch them rot in the Morton Grove sunshine. Still, I’m excited by the prospect of him being there, bringing a unique batch of greens that ensures he won’t compete with our other produce vendors, who will be selling more mundane–yet wholesome–goods.

It’s a little intimidating to think that this whole enterprise will be opening in just a few months. But we’ve gotten so much cooperation from the village, vendors like Kappy’s Restaurant (they’re donating 10% of your bill Wednesday nights in March if you mention the market) and the volunteers on the committee that everything is falling into place nicely. There are a lot of people in town who really really want this to happen, and it’s encouraging to note that we’ve encountered very little resistance from private and public organizations. Which means there are no horror stories to report. So far, we’ve been fortunate, and I’m really looking forward to meeting our vendors and providing a welcoming place to greet members of our community in late May.