We’ve been reporting on and writing about the Farmers Markets in Evanston for more than six years now, and it is a pleasure to welcome a new writer to our fold.
Anna Wittcoff is a rising sophomore at ETHS who is a dedicated student and enjoys learning. When she is not swimming or playing badminton, Anna enjoys playing the cello in orchestra and participating in community service. She is extremely excited to be writing for Friends of the Evanston Farmer’s Market this summer as she has been attending the farmer’s market since before she could walk and talk.
We have asked Anna to explore the market for us–to speak with vendors and shoppers and learn their stories, and to put into words the impressions she has fostered from literally a lifetime at the market.
Anna began her submissions with a verse, and we think it’s a delightful way to begin our acquaintance with her writing. Sign up for our weekly newsletter to see all of Anna’s reports. But read her poem first!
A Farmer’s Awakening
By Anna Wittcoff
Crystals of snow-covered ice
Evaporating from the ever rising sun.
Revealing frost ladened grass underneath.
Blossoming under feet of tar rich dirt.
Anxiously awaiting the sun
Ruffling its amber rose wings.
Surfacing to open up to the sky above
Accepting the new day to come
And fondly remembering days before.
As winter turns to spring and
Spring turns to summer
The soil keeping beat with the rhythm of the Earth
Orbiting showers of light
Beams of pure goodness.
Then comes the rain
Beads of hydrogen with dashes of oxygen
Hydrating lush greens and grass below
Giving life to anything and everything.
Waking the plants out of slumber
Coaxing animals from hibernation
And awakening the farmer from his slumber.
To grow and nurture
To slice and dice
To glean and preen
Their works of nature
To present to people like you and I
Bringing light to our lives
Shedding light on the essence of human life and
The importance of
The farmer’s awakening.
42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything (according to Douglas Adams). It was Jackie Robinson’s number. 42 is a number with significance.
That’s more true than ever as the Downtown Evanston Farmers Market begins its 42nd consecutive season on Saturday, May 6.
All of the nearly 60 farms, ranches and artisanal producers likely won’t be at the first few markets, but the property at University and Maple will fill up rapidly with purveyors of fruits, vegetables, meat, flowers, cheese, eggs and bakery items.
Nearly all of last year’s vendors are returning, and there are seven new farms and artisanal vendors to serve up exquisite wares:
Indoor market shoppers will recognize some of these names from this last season, and we all welcome their participation in the big market.
The Downtown Market accepts Illinois Link cards, so low-income shoppers can utilize SNAP benefits when they shop the market. Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets have matched SNAP dollars since 2011. You can find details about this year’s matching program by clicking here.
Keep visiting this site for information, recipes, links and reporting about issues that impact both the farmers who make our market so exceptional and the customers that depend on the market for fresh, local, healthy products every week.
The ordinance that establishes rules and regulations governing activities at the City of Evanston’s Farmers Markets has recently been reviewed and revised. Friends provided input, as we have in the past, and we are pleased to see the clarity that the revised ordinance brings to all the details that make our market a great place to shop, as well as a safe and fun place to bring the whole family.
The significant updates involve language about farmer cooperatives and explicit permission for non-Evanston producers of baked goods to participate in Evanston markets.Farmer cooperatives allow a vendor to offer products grown by other farmers at our market, as long as certain specific rules are followed. The matter of non-Evanston bakers was a subject of some controversy during the past year, and the new language clarifies who is permitted to sell baked goods at our markets.
You can check out the revised ordinance; just click here to download a pdf of the proposed revision.
There are two important dates where the revision will be on the table, and citizens of Evanston are encouraged to attend. The first is the monthly meeting of the Human Services Committee, scheduled for Monday, December 5, at 6 pm (according to the City’s website). The ordinance will be discussed, and citizen’s will be able to address concerns.
The City Council will review and (presumably) approve the revised ordinance at their meeting on Monday, December 12. There is no scheduled time for this meeting on the City’s calendar, but we believe it will begin at 6:30 pm.
Both meetings will be held at the Civic Center at 2100 Ridge Ave, Evanston, IL 60201.
It is the hope of the City and Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets that anyone who shops at our Farmers Markets will take a few minutes to review the updated ordinance and show their interest by attending the meetings that will result in its passage.
Immanuel Lutheran Church, at 616 Lake Street (Sherman and Lake) here in Evanston has been holding a Pre-Thanksgiving Indoor/Outdoor Farmers Market for many years.
In writing about it, our lede has always been centered around the fact that this market was the final hurrah for most of the vendors until the next year’s Spring. Since last year, that’s no longer the case.
The market, which will be held on Saturday, November 19 from 8 am to 1 pm, is now the first of 11 markets that will be held at the church throughout the Fall, Winter, and early Spring. Along with the weekly Ecology Center Farmers Market, that makes for a lot of options for those who want to continue eating seasonal produce and supporting local farmers and artisans.
The Pre-Thanksgiving market is a bit different than the others. It’s an indoor/outdoor affair, for one. As of this moment, the extended forecast puts the temperature at around 50 degrees for most of the morning, with moderately high winds. Rain is forecast for later in the day. Last year’s forecast was similar the week before the market, and things got a little more brutal once the day arrived. Hopefully, this year, Winter will wait until after we all get our sweet potatoes, turkeys, and all the other seasonal options.
Regardless, there will be lots to choose from. Here’s the roster of farms and artisans who will be at the market on November 19:
At the time of this writing, there are two chef demos left in the 2016 market season. Pretty much every other week, we’ve had a dozen of Evanston’s best chefs visit and wow a couple of hundred hungry visitors with their delicious fare, much of it composed of products you can get right at the market. In this article, and a follow up in November, we’d like to share the recipes that those generous chefs shared with us. Here we go!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C)
Roasted Beets and Pesto Oil from above.
Store bought (hopefully local) 16 oz of Burrata
Liberally salt and pepper each side of steak before grilling.
Grill strip steak over high heat for five minutes each side, rotating 90 degrees to get even sear on both sides. Let rest on cutting board for five minutes after removing from grill.
Combine Peach balsamic with dijon mustard with whisk in non reactive bowl, then slowly drizzle olive oil, while whisking vigorously until dressing becomes slightly thick. Add brown sugar, and pinch of salt and pepper, whisk until combined, then toss lightly with lettuce.
Slice steak cross wise into 1/4 inch strips. Add cheese wedge and four slices of steak to salad.
Pickled mustard seeds
Blanch the beans, shock in cold water, set aside
Fine chop shiso, add remaining ingredients and mix together. Adjust seasonings and thickness to personal taste. (sweeter, thinner)
Pickled mustard seeds
Put all ingredients in a non aluminum pan, simmer for 5 minutes, take off heat and let cool. Stored in the fridge, they are good for a long time.
Assemble the dish
Plate green beans, drizzle with miso dressing. top with radishes and some micro greens, spread pickled mustard seeds around. Finished
You can add other vegetables like cherry tomato, asparagus, etc.
For a more substantial dish, add a Japanese onsen style egg .