Hello readers. I've been debating whether to write a blog about the cancellation of the Forest Park Farmers Market. My previous involvement with the FP market, my recent decision to move Purple Leaf to Elgin and to not sell at the FP market, and my involvement in another nearby farmers market... all these factors leave me feeling kinda awkward and not knowing exactly what to say. However, I feel compelled to comment, so here goes.
(Side note: Reminder- my CSA shares are now available. Check out the 2013 CSA tab above for info or to order).
I'm so sad that the Forest Park market is closing! I live in Forest Park and even before I started growing for market, I was definitely in favor of Forest Park having a market. When the Village let me farm a quarter acre and I began to sell my products at the Forest Park market, my affection and hope for the Forest Park market only strengthened. The 2012 market was a lot of fun and the market managers did a lot to try to draw people out. I will totally miss the food served at the Market Grill. It was way tasty!
The newspaper reports say that the reason the market was cancelled was due not being able to recruit enough vendors for this year. Some of you may know that about a month ago I decided decline to be a vendor at Forest Park for 2013, so in this sense I guess you could say I was part of the problem. Hence the awkwardness I feel toward this issue.
ANYWAY- I do think that the market's cancellation brings up some interesting questions about why some farmers markets are wildly successful and others are not and what this means for local food in general. As someone who's been a fan of farmers markets, who manages one farmers market and who sells produce at other markets, I've been thinking a lot lately about the future of the farmers market movement, because I've been a fan for many years and also because at this point my business depends on it. If the goal is to get more people to eat local food and buy directly from the farmer, is the solution to open new farmers markets in every community? On one hand, if there's a farmers market in every community and is easily accessible to everyone, then surely more people will eat local and farmers will sell more stuff? Or on the other hand, maybe there's a saturation point for farmers markets and trying to force more markets than the local food economy can bare hurts the communities who struggle to make a successful event, the farmers who struggle to sell enough product, and the overall public perception who may interpret a closed market as a sign against local food and farmers?
I honestly do not know the answers to these questions nor do I mean to imply anything by asking them.
I hope local food and farmers markets aren't an inflated trend that will sooner than later come crashing down. Of course I believe that farming and local food are truths and imperatives that hold at least part of the solution for things like hunger, obesity, ecology, land use, health, and our overall success and happiness as a species. That's what I believe, but the question is, what does the rest of America think? Because if they're not on board and they're not willing hopefully even excited to start cooking at home, buying local food, and supporting their community farmers markets, then where do we stand?
I love farmers markets and want them all to succeed and I want the number of people who buy local and know their farmer to keep rising. When markets close--i.e.: when the forest park market was cancelled--it gives me a bit of a blow to my optimism and hope for the growth of the local food movement. Perhaps circumstances will change at some point in the future so as to bring the Forest Park Farmers Market back to life.
I'd like o end this post with a few happy personal memories from the Forest Park Farmers' Market:
... the olive oil soaps made by my vendor neighbor
... .Trogg Hollow, their beautiful produce and their brood of kids enjoying the grass and trees
.....as previously mentioned, the lovely and never disappointing food from chef Denise at the Market Grill
.... the fun water sprinkler that was brought out to keep everyone cool on those + 100 degree days
....the great music from a variety of visiting musicians and music schools
....the to-die-for confections from St. Honore bakery- I'll particularly miss the Mexican Wedding Cookies!
....all my wonderful customers, it was so good to get to know you and I truly appreciate your support!
Thanks for reading!
...and don't forget, to support local food and your local farmer, make a point to shop at a farmers market and // or buy produce directly from a farmer!