• Friends Finds Fresh Eyes and a New Voice to Explore Our Market

    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.

    Icicles dripping

      Buds blooming

        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.

  • The Downtown Evanston Farmers Market returns on May 6 to start its 42nd season

    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:

    • Broad Shoulders BBQ
    • Windy City Greens
    • Tastebudz
    • Sherwood North Nursery
    • Roedger Bros. Blueberries
    • Wisconsin Fermentation
    • Master Gardeners/U of I Extension!

    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.

    Get information on location hours and parking by clicking here. See a full list of this year’s vendors 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.

  • Evanston Considers Changes to Farmers Market Ordinance.

    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.

  • ILC Thanksgiving Market: What Was Last, Now is First

    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:

    Immanuel Lutheran Church
    Pre-Thanksgiving Farmers Market

    Saturday, November 19, from 8 am to 1 pm
    616 Lake Street, Evanston, IL  (Sherman and Lake)
    • City Press Juice & Bottle
    • Elko Farm
    • Endless Greens
    • Green Acres
    • Heartland Meats
    • Henry’s Farm
    • Katic Breads
    • Kinnikinnick Farm
    • Klehm Orchids
    • Lake Breeze Organics
    • Metropolitan Farms
    • Mint Creek Farm
    • Morlock and Girls
    • Morsels Patisserie
    • Nichols Farm & Orchard
    • Organic Pastures
    • Patz Maple & Honey/Frosty
    • River Valley Ranch
    • Sunny Lane Farm
    • The Cheese People
    • TC’s Mixes
    • Tomato Mountain
    • Whimsical Acres


  • Recipes from the 2016 Blue Tent Collection, Part 1

    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!


    Roasted beets with buratta  and pesto oil

    Roasted Beets (any type is ok)

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C)

    1. Toss 2-3 lb of beets, in olive oil, and thyme or rosemary in a bowl until beets are coated, and arrange pieces of beet on baking sheet so that they don’t touch.
    2. Roast in the preheated oven until the beets are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
    3. Let beets cool down then peel the skin off ( you might want to wear plastic gloves so not to stain hands )
    4. Slice or chop and chill

    Pesto Oil

    1. Take one 4oz jar of pesto or you can make your own, and mix with 1 cup of a very good quality olive oil .


    Roasted Beets and Pesto Oil from above.

    Store bought (hopefully local) 16 oz of Burrata

    1. Place 1/2 cup or couple of slices of beets in a bowl, desired quantity of Buratta cheese on top of the beets drizzle with pesto oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, then serve.


    New York strip steak and arugula salad


    • One ten ounce thick cut strip steak from Heartland meats
    • 4 ounces of Marigold farms arugula lettuce
    • 1/2 ounce wedge of Elko farms white cheddar cheese per person
    • 1/4 cup Old Town Oil Tap Peach balsamic dressing
    • 1/3 cup Old Town Oil Tap lemon olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon dijion mustard
    • 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
    • Salt
    • Pepper


    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.

    Serves four


    Heirloom Tomato Panzanella


    • 1 each Shallot -minced
    • 2 cup Stale Ciabatta – cut into bite sizes pieces
    • 1 cup Cherry tomato (about 12) -cut into quarters
    • 1 each Medium heirloom tomato-medium dice
    • 2 cloves Garlic-minced
    • ¼ cup Red wine vinegar
    • 3 tablespoon Olive Oil
    • 8 leaves Opal basil -torn into bite size pieces


    1. Mix all ingredients together and season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
    2. Let sit for at least an hour before serving.


    Fresh Tomato Sauce


    • 8–10 pounds of fresh, ripe tomatoes (mixture of Early Girl and Roma)
    • 2 white onions
    • 6 cloves garlic
    • 2 fresh bay leaves
    • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ½ cup fresh basil (optional)
    • salt and pepper to taste


    1. Prepare the tomatoes: Score the skin with a sharp knife. Drop in boiling
      water for one minute or until the skin starts to lift from the flesh. Transfer
      to a bowl of ice to cool. Peel, seed, and roughly chop the tomatoes.
    2. Mince the onions and the garlic. In a large saucepan, cook onions, garlic,
      bay leaves, and crushed red pepper in olive oil until onions are translucent.
      (About 5–10 minutes.)
    3. Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic mixture. Cook uncovered until
      this forms a thick sauce. (About 20–30 minutes.) Add salt and pepper
      to taste.
    4. Remove the pan from heat and remove the bay leaves from the pan.
      If adding basil, now is the best time to do so.

    A Simple, Steamed/Blanched Green & Yellow Bean Salad with a miso / honey /pickled mustard seed dressing


    • 1 pound Green and/or Yellow Beans, tips removed
    • 4 or so radishes, very thinly sliced (w/ a mandolin, if you can)

    Miso dressing

    • 1 cup Saikyo miso paste
    • ½  cup mirin
    • ½ cup rice vinegar
    • ¼ cup water
    • 2 tbs honey
    • 3 purple shiso leaves
    • 1 tsp grated ginger

    Pickled mustard seeds

    • 1 cup yellow mustard seeds
    • ¾ cup rice vinegar
    • ¼ cup mirin
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup water.


    Blanch the beans, shock in cold water, set aside

    Miso dressing

    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 .