Photo by Joe Boyle
Lisa Wiencek, who sells fresh flowers through her Floralore company, said she was pleased with her first day at the Evergreen Park Farmers Market, which reopened last Thursday.
By Joe Boyle
In many ways it was business as usual at the first farmers market of the year in Evergreen Park last Thursday.
However, as shoppers began to show up after the market opened at 7 a.m., everyone was soon aware that there were significant differences from last year. The market stands were at least six feet apart. Vendors and shoppers were all required to wear masks at the market, which will be held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Thursday through mid-October at the Yukich Fields parking lot, 8900 S. Kedzie Ave.
Residents have been dealing with COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders since mid-March and were looking for a pleasant escape.
"I think everyone is just happy to be out," said Vicki Garcia, who operates Ever Pure Organics. She sells chemical- and dye-free soybean candles. "It is a nice day and everyone has been so nice."
Garcia has had a table at the Evergreen Park Farmers Market for 20 years and enjoys coming. The Homer Glen resident also sells organic soaps and shampoos.
"I'm getting a lot of orders from people," Garcia said. "I think it will take some time. Everyone is being cautious."
Garcia said that as everyone gets used to going outside more often, more stands will be set up. The Taste of Martha's Kitchen, which will offer Amish baked goods, is scheduled to be at the farmers market on June 4.
"Some people do six of these a week," Garcia said. "I don't do that many but I always enjoy coming here."
Garcia's stand was farther west along the market layout and was at least six feet away from Lisa Wiencek, who operates Floralore. The Tinley Park resident sells fresh flowers. Unlike Garcia, this is the first time for Wiencek at the Evergreen Park Farmers Market.
"It's just nice to be outside," said Wiencek, who has previously sold flowers in Chicago Ridge and Oak Forest. "I have had a lot of people drop by."
Beth Novotney director of the Office of Citizens' Services in Evergreen Park, was excited to see the farmers market return.
"We weren't sure if we were going to start in June so the fact we are out here today is great," said Novotney, who officially became the director of the organization in January after serving as an assistant director and volunteer for many years. "The weather is nice today as well. It is a great day for everyone. Everybody is being conscientious and respectful. Everyone is wearing masks and keeping social distance."
Signs were posted at the entrance and at several locations reminding shoppers to wear masks and keep a social distance of at least six feet. Novotney said that this was a promising start to the farmers market.
She added that the Office of Citizens' Services not only monitors the farmers market but also acts as a liaison to the village administration, responds to the needs of all residents, and organizes programs to promote a healthy mind and body. The organization works with older adults to keep them active and to live independently with dignity.
The Office of Citizens' Services is located in the state-of the-art Community Center, 3450 W. 97th St., which opened last spring. While the center has been closed during the pandemic, Novotney still reports to work to monitor service organizations and respond to the needs of residents who call.
"We have been busy," Novotney said. "We are still providing food for those in need from the Evergreen Park Food Pantry every Friday. The need is great. "We usually provide for 30 families and it's usually double that now. I think one week we provided food for 160 families."
Novotney believes that the steady flow of customers at the first farmers market is a positive sign as summer approaches.
Some of the other businesses that are featured at the farmers market include Kal-Bro Farms, who sell flowers and vegetables; Laurie's Creations, with blankets and table runners for sale; Jewels2U, Gigawatts Coffee Roaster, Dotson's Farms, El Coyote Mexican Restaurant, Villa's Nuts and Candy, and Cooper Farms, which offers fruit. Additional vendors will join the farmers market during the summer, Novotney said.
"It's been a really good day," Novotney said.