Evanston Farmers Markets 2011

July 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Evanston Farmers Markets, 2011 – Mid-July Update

All five of the Evanston markets are now up to speed for the season, despite the usual vendor shifts and extreme weather woes.  The following is a status update on what the various farmers and artisans are up to, as of the second week in July:

Evanston Downtown, Intersection of University Place and East Railroad Ave.
Saturday, 7:30AM – 1:00PM

Noteworthy stars at this week’s market, which offers a huge selection of products of all kinds at this time of year, some of which are heart-breakingly brief in season:

-         Lyons Fruit Farm (MI): First vine-ripened tomatoes are now making an appearance, as are excellent-quality stone fruits.  Get there early for apricots, as they sell out fast.

-         Henry’s Farm (IL):  Wonderful selection of members of the Allium family now available: several varieties of young leeks, and ”knob” onions – young onions that are just forming the bulb. Great for grilling and salsas.  Several kinds are on sale: white, yellow, and purple, as well as the sweeter Walla-Walla, at $2.50 per bunch, or 2/$4.00.

-         Nichols Farm & Orchard (IL):  Another a prime purveyor of fresh onions, Nichols counters with Vidalias and red torpedos, as well as white and yellow varieties.  Fresh garlic is on sale, as well as the last of the season’s garlic scapes.  Just starting to make an appearance are sweet peppers, and broccoli and wax beans are in mid-season form; also available are fresh garbanzo beans (chickpeas), a recent addition to their selection of vegetables.   For the pesto lovers, Nichols is selling large bags of Genovese-type basil for a very reasonable $2.00.

-         Stover’s (MI):  If you are a cherry-lover, this should be your first stop this week.  Stover’s offers pitted sour cherries for a short time each year, and this is the time.  Large buckets are available for $20, and small one-pie buckets are available for $9.00.   This pre-done prep makes both pie and jam-making incredibly easy – and the plastic buckets can be frozen as-is.   Going forward, they will offer the sour cherries frozen, but for fresh, you must go now. Sweet cherries are also offered, as are the nearly as ephemeral tree-ripened apricots.

-         Oosterhoff & Sons (IL):  It’s lily season, but Asiatic and Oriental (the latter are the wildly fragrant ones).  Oosterhoff offered multiple stems for $5.00 last week,  making a statement-maker bouquet very affordable.   Big bunches of multi or one-color snapdragons were also on sale, as well as a rainbow of gladiolas.  For the avid flower gardener/bargain-hunter, a large selection of small but vigorous perennials was on sale for $2.00.  Plant now for a lovely display next summer.
West End, Intersection of Church St. and Dodge Ave. (Evanston Township HS parking lot)
Saturday, 8:30AM – 3:00PM

As the growing season progresses, Cozeake Nelson’s selection of produce continues to expand, as is the operation itself (more on this upcoming).  His first vine-ripened Evanston-grown tomatoes, juicy and full of flavor, appeared this week; Mr. Nelson’s knowledgeable and gregarious colleague ‘Dusty” told me that several varieties will be on sale in the upcoming weeks, including Green Zebra, a notoriously delicate and hard-to-ship variety.  Sweet corn should be available in the near future; other vegetables available now are beets, turnips, collards, and arugula.  Evanston-grown melons are on the horizon, as well.

Ridgeville (South Evanston), Intersection of Ridge Ave. and South Blvd.
Wednesday, 3:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Following the shift of “Crust & Crumb” to the Central St. market, High-Rise Bakery of Chicago has set up shop at the Ridgeville market.  High-Rise is a fixture at several other local markets, and sells reasonably priced artisan yeast breads and quick breads.

Also newly available this week at Ridgeville: excellent stone fruits from Lyons Fruit Farm (MI) – apricots, plums, and early peaches.  Highly recommended.  Also on hand now: raspberries, blueberries, broccoli, and wax beans.

Central St. Green Market, Independence Park, intersection of Central St. and Stewart St. (two blocks west of Green Bay Rd.)
Wednesday, 3:00PM – 7:00 PM

Available this week from Trail’s End Organic Farm (IL): ducks!  Whole fresh Black Swedish ducks are available (average weight: 3.5 lbs), at $22.00 each.  Black Swedish ducks, while not a rare breed, are not generally commercially available, and a visit to this farmer would be worth the time if you are a duck fan. Black Swede Trivia: with its black body and white throat/chest feathers, this breed is mentioned by more than one breeder as having been the model for Warner Bros. cartoon star Daffy Duck. Trail’s End will also have their usual array of grass-fed beef cuts and stewing hens in stock, so come early.

Lake Breeze Organics (MI) has an expanding selection of produce, which now includes fruit (tart cherries, blueberries), as well as broccoli, new potatoes, and copra onions (a small, strong-flavored variety – a great storage onion).

Also this week: crepe-makers Gata Bee Crepes made their debut at the 7/13 market, making to-order crepes with a variety of fillings and toppings.

McGaw YMCA (Downtown), 1000 Grove St. (at Maple)
Wednesday, 9:30AM – 2:00PM

The sole vendor is Michigan-based 1st Orchards & Greenhouses keeps up their good variety of offerings:  green and yellow wax beans @ $3.00 a quart,  big ripe tomatoes for $3.00/lb, blueberries for $5.00/pint (or 2 for $9.00),  sweet cherries at $5.00 per pint, and zucchini or yellow summer squash for 3/$1.00.  Mixed bouquets of cut flowers and fresh eggs ($4.00/doz) are also available.  This mini-market is a nice option for one-stop shopping for downtown Evanston residents and workers.