MARKET WATCH: Let the Season Begin!
The roll-out of outdoor summer farmers market begins in earnest this week. Okay, Grayslake and Frankfort got a jump on May with April starts, and Geneva Community Market has three more indoor Saturday markets, and most if not all of the French markets have begun. Still, May 1 offers such a natural start to the season that I will unilaterally declare the season open for business.
That said, it’s a pretty slow roll-out. The season isn’t in full swing until late June. As the manager of Tomato Mountain’s Chicago area market presence, I’m thankful for that. We’re planning to participate in over 30 Chicago area markets this season, and the smattering of markets in May gives us an opportunity to get the kinks out, train a few new market sellers, and generally get our bearings.
Yet, each week will offer several markets added to the schedule. If you have a favorite neighborhood market that hasn’t started yet, check out some of these earlier opportunities. Be a little adventurous, take a drive or ride your bike, get outside your comfort zone—whether that means heading to the South Side or the suburbs. And challenge yourself to look for seasonality in the offerings. In these earliest weeks, you can expect to see bedding plants, asparagus, rhubarb, cut flowers and hanging baskets, radishes, early greens….and of course, value-added items like dried fruits, salsas, preserves. If you see peaches or watermelon, you might want to keep walking.
Although I pride myself on keeping the most complete list of farmers markets in the state, I’m not proactively compiling it; I just add markets as they come to my attention. So please use the comments to add new markets you’ve started or heard about, share your experiences about early markets, add to the list of produce to expect at markets.
These are the markets rolling out this week in and around Chicago (with those already in progress in italics):
- Saturday, May 1 ~ Palatine, Park Forest, Rowan Trees, Woodstock (Sat), Grayslake, Geneva
- Sunday, May 2 ~ Frankfort
- Tuesday, May 4 ~ Woodstock (Tues)
- Wednesday, May 5 ~ Palos Heights
And here are some of the markets* that roll out the following week:
- Saturday, May 8 ~ Evanston, Downers Grove
- Monday, May 10 ~ Countryside
- Tuesday, May 11 ~ Federal Plaza, LaGrange Park
- Wednesday, May 12 ~ Green City, Ridgeville-Evanston
- Thursday, May 13 ~ Daley Plaza, LaGrange
*I lost some data collected about these start dates, so I’ll fill in next week if I missed some.
Hope to see you out and about!