A Site Becomes a Square

March 10, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Several committee members of the Morton Grove Farmers’ Market met yesterday at the parking lot at 8930 Waukegan road to visualize how the Market would be set up starting May 29. At first, we had planned to park the trucks and the stands in rows to kind of guide shoppers down the aisle. The endcap of each aisle would be a community table with some sort of entertainment or educational focus. As we gauged the space, though, it made more sense to park the trucks in a large square, with the stands on the inside. More like an Italian piazza, we felt this arrangement would offer more of a sense of community. Shoppers can spot each other across the square, the musical entertainment can be heard by everybody, and, once inside the Market square, the interior space would be well defined. It would also be more spacious and protect patrons from drivers in the parking lot better.

Although there was still snow on the ground covering up some of the parking spaces we will soon occupy, we were able to gain a deeper understanding of the logistics and anticipate what issues might arise. With the snow still there, however, opening day still seems safely in the future. I know that’s just part denial/part illusion. In truth, there are still many decisions that need to be made in advance of the Grand Opening at 10 a.m. on May 29.

Still, one happy milestone is that our first vendor video has been posted. To demonstrate to our patrons that all our vendors either grow or process their food on their property, we plan to make a short video of each vendor at their farm, factory or bakery showing that they do indeed do what they say they do where they say they do it.

We’re looking for ways to make our market unique and set us apart from the surrounding suburbs, many of whom already host excellent markets. Posting the videos is one way we hope to entice visitors. The other way is by offering a drawing every week for a basket filled with either a local business gift certificate or fresh produce from the vendors. We’ve already received a number of drawing slips from patrons of Kappy’s, a restaurant at Harlem and Dempster in Morton Grove, who has generously offered to donate 10 percent of their patrons’ bills each Wednesday night in March if the patron mentions the Market to the cashier. Again, the level of generosity by Morton Grove businesses in these tough economic times has been heartwarming and encouraging. All of us on the committee have been motivated by the level of cooperation we’ve received from civic and private organizations.