Elgin Harvest Market hopes to grow number of shoppers
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News June 7, 2012 8:38PM
Chris Prchal, of Trogg's Hollow Farm in Elgin, prepares a customers order at the Downtown Elgin Harvest Market in Elgin, Ill., on Thursday, June 7, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:09AM
ELGIN — Ripe plum tomatoes, juicy early-season berries, baby yellow potatoes, huge heads of cauliflower and more were on display for the first time this season at the Elgin Harvest Market.
Promoted by Elgin’s Downtown Neighborhood Association, the summerlong farmers market kicked off Thursday with new hours, new vendors and new entertainment for the season.
For most of its 12-year run, the Harvest Market ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., said Jennifer Benson, Harvest Market manager. Following several surveys, questioning vendors as well as consumers, there are new hours for 2012: from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. each Thursday.
It is now in its second summer at its present location — the “old Gail Borden Library lot” at the southwest corner of Kimball Street and North Grove Avenue.
The new location was a boon for the vendors, she said, adding that she hopes the new hours work for the customers as well.
“Many people asked, ‘Can we have it after work?’ ” Benson said. While the morning hours seemed to work for stay-at-home moms and the lunch rush usually did a healthy clip, the 2-4 p.m. hours were dead for many of the vendors.
By being open in the evening, they hope to grab buyers on their way home and maybe draw some residents out of their homes in the evening.
That is one of the reasons there now will be live music or a DJ every Thursday this summer, Benson said. Musical acts will include pop cover bands, country music, folk artists and solo acts.
Tips & tokens
Shoppers also can watch cooking demonstrations each week by local personal chef Quincy Owens. Each week, Owens will demonstrate how to take produce sold at the market and make it into that evening’s meal, Benson said.
To help buyers take that food home, the Downtown Neighborhood Association is also now accepting both credit/debit cards and EBT/Link cards, thanks to a grant from the Kane County Fit for Kids program.
Customers can use their Link or credit cards to purchase tokens, and those tokens are then turned in to the vendor as currency. The vendors will round the cost to the closest denomination to make the transactions simple, Benson added.
Art for All, which produces the annual Art and Soul on the Fox in downtown Elgin, also will have a booth all summer long promoting area artists, Benson said.
There have been many artists asking about having a booth over the years, Benson said. But all the Harvest Market vendors are required to carry insurance, something most artists do not have.
Because Art for All carries its own insurance, it is a great venue for artists to get a week to show and perhaps sell some of their work, she said.
More programs are planned this summer, Benson said, including food canning demonstrations and raffles.