MARKET WATCH: New Markets on the Horizon

February 26, 2010 at 8:36 pm

My market radar has detected between 15-20 new (or potential) summer farmers markets so far in Illinois, many of them in the greater Chicago area.  Regular readers of the Beet have been following the progress of Morton Grove’s efforts.   A few others that have come to my attention include Norwood Park, Glenwood Sunday Market (Rogers Park), Bolingbrook, Homer Glen, Lockport, Yorktown Mall (Lombard), Lincoln Square (Thurs. night), Woodridge, Forest Park, and Bridgeport.  A few others will remain nameless, as they are not fully baked yet.  Another 30-40 markets were added last season statewide; a few didn’t get off the ground, and a few existing markets fell by the wayside.  But the number of markets is definitely on the rise.  What do you make of this?  What are their specific motivations?  If they build it, will you come? 

And why do I keep track of these comings and goings?  About two years ago, a small group of, well, groupies got together with a view toward forming a statewide farmers market association in Illinois.  The others, much more experienced than I in the realm of farmers markets (I had just completed my first season of winter farmers markets) each took on a number of tasks and I, with my winter market season behind me, offered to put together a list of farmers markets in Illinois with contact information.  

Over the course of about six weeks, I combed through a wide variety of online farmers market lists, kept my ear to the ground, checked Local Harvest daily for new entries, Googled, phoned, verified, updated, and came up with what I believed (and still believe) is a near-complete list of farmers markets in the state.  It was used—and continues to be used—to notify farmers market managers of workshops and forums about farmers market management.  (The association is still in formation, and its purpose and viability will be discussed—along with lots of information useful to new or experienced market managers—at a Chicago-area Forum (more info below)  being held March 13 in conjunction with FamilyFarmed EXPO. ) 

Though I no longer proactively update and verify the information on the list, my ears still perk up when I hear of a new or potential market and I update the list as new data falls in my lap.  It’s an imperfect system, especially when undertaken passively, but I’m always interested in hearing about new markets added to the scene.  


This is a good weekend for indoor winter farmers markets:

  • Green City Market, Saturday 8 to 1pm, at the Notebaert Museum
  • Geneva Community Market, Saturday 9 to 1, at Inglenook Pantry in Geneva
  • Portage Park Farmers Market, Saturday 10 to 2, at Portage Park fieldhouse near Central Ave & Irving Park Rd
  • Empty Bottle Farmers Market, Saturday 12 to 5, at the Empty Bottle, corner of Western Ave & Cortez
  • Logan Square Farmers Market,  Sunday, 10 to 2, at the Congress Theatre on Milwaukee Ave


Here are the specifics for the Farmers Market Forum:

Saturday, March 13, 2010  (pre-registration until March 10)
1:00pm – 4:00 pm  (see agenda below)
UIC Forum — University of Illinois at Chicago
725 West Roosevelt Road

For Farmers Market Managers & Vendors!
    – Network and Share successful marketing and outreach initiatives
    – Learn the latest news about GAP training
    – Find new ways for Growing Your Market ( including EBT/Link)
    – Farmers Market Association planning update
    – Continue to check back at this link for continued updated training information

Registration (Chicago Only)
$25 per person if you pre-register by March 10, 2010  ($30 per person at the door)
Register at Brown Paper Tickets

1:00 p.m.   Welcome / Farmers Market Association Planning Update
1:15 p.m.  Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Update
2:15 p.m.   EBT/Link for Farmers Markets – How to Make it work for You!
3:30 p.m. Small Group Breakouts (Identify future training priorities, share market strategies, identify grant opportunities, association planning)
4:00 p.m.  Wrap up – Groups report back

This Forum is being held in conjunction with the FamilyFarmed EXPO, a 3-day gathering of Chicago-area fans of locally grown and responsibly produced food and artisanal goods.  Your registration cost includes entry to Saturday’s Local Food Festival at the EXPO, which features cooking demos from farmer/exhibitors, celebrity chefs, educational seminars and an interactive Kids Corner.