Businesses try to revive Sunday farmer's market, invite farmers, food producers indoors

Businesses invite farmers, food producers indoors
CHICAGO (WLS) -- With the exception of Evanston, most local farmer's markets - including the giant ones like Green City or Logan Square - are on hiatus.

But a couple of businesses are trying to revive the Sunday market, by inviting farmers and food producers indoors on the weekend. Our Hungry Hound visited a pair of them over the past two weeks.

Regional farms and food producers normally do a lot of business during the weekends this time of the year. But with those markets shut down, they're resorting to a few make-shift markets, held indoors, with strict social distancing including masks and one way traffic flow to prevent people from getting too close to each other.

Even in a steady rain, food lovers seemed willing to wait outside Daisies, a Logan Square restaurant selling groceries and meals during the week, for a chance to shop among a half dozen or so vendors.

"We have farmers, we've got our house-made products, vendors from throughout the neighborhood, and it's something we want to see if we can keep going on a weekly basis until the markets open back up, until these guys can have some revenue for their businesses," said Daisies Chef-Owner Joe Frillman.

Frillman's brother runs the family farm, and has a small table set up in the back patio, along with Klug Farms. Inside, it ranges from beer and wine, to prepared meals, cold-pressed juices and imported items like Spanish olives or mussels. Despite the distances observed, there is a tangible sense of support.

"But also this sense of community. I think a lot of people understand the amount of stress that has been put on a lot of these places and they want to do everything they can to support while getting some really quality products that they might not be able to get from every grocery store," he said.

In Edgewater, a raw space on Broadway has become a de facto weekend farmer's market, with a rotating cast of attendees.

"Our primary goal is to support farmers who don't have as many outlets to sell as they'd normally do when the farmer's markets are in operation. As long as those markets aren't available, we're gonna try to do this every other week," said Benjamin Rogers, owner of Regalis Foods.

"Today we've got American Pride Microfarms, who is doing microgreens and knife sharpening; Nichols Farm and Orchard and Avrom Farms who you might recognize from a lot of restaurant menus around the city doing produce and meats. Cookies and Carnitas - who has donated their space - is doing all kinds of baked goods and pizzas. Chef Ryan Poli is doing prepared pasta kits and my company, Regalis, is selling artisan cheese and gourmet dry goods," Rogers explained.

Also, local pastry chef Kyleen Atonson is selling her combo of seasonal and classic pastries. The produce is exactly what you'd find in any farmer's market this time of year, but the layout and payment system seems very of-the-moment.

"We spread vendors out throughout the space, limited the number of people who are shopping at a time. Everyone inside is wearing a mask and the vendors are wearing mask and gloves, and we also introduced contactless payment so everyone can pay using their phones, so we don't have exchange any cash or cards and keep it as safe as possible," said Rogers.

While Daisies will hold its market every Sunday, the Edgewater group confirmed it will just be every other week, so their next market will be June 7.

Daisies Sunday Market
10 am - 2 pm
2523 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Edgewater Sunday Market
Every other Sunday, the next one is June 7
5940 N. Broadway
9 am - 1 pm

Evanston Farmer's Market
Saturdays, 7:30 am - 1 pm (Seniors and disabled shoppers from 7 - 7:30 am)
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