Earth Day 2018: Get Healthy With Farmers Markets For All Seasons And Towns

Earth Day 2018: Get Healthy With Farmers Markets For All Seasons And Towns

  • This article, contributed by Matt Tansley, land use planner for the Kane County Development and Community Services Department, is part of a 15-part series of tips on how to make a positive environmental impact in Kane County in preparation for Earth Day on April 22. 

Tip #3: Know Your Farmer

This is the time of year when farmers are well under way planning their crop selections for the coming season, and farmers market managers are working feverishly to ensure that their markets will have the diverse mix of vendors and fresh produce that patrons expect.

Kane County farmers markets are reshaping the narrative on seasonally confined markets with a growing number offering seasonally available fresh produce and value-added items all year round.

Today there are at least a dozen markets operating in Kane County, including three indoor markets that run through the winter months.

The legacy of farmers markets runs deep in Kane County as the city of Aurora is the home of Illinois’ oldest farmers market, which began in 1912.

An article from the Aurora Daily Beacon-News announced the opening of the market, which read in part … “We desire to extend a general invitation to the public, both city as well as country. Mr. farmer, come and get acquainted with our new idea and meet us personally, and we assure you that you will spend a profitable as well as a pleasant day. To the citizens of Aurora, be on hand to lend a helping hand to the new enterprise and meet the producer personally. Remember the date, Tuesday, April 2, 1912.”

Aurora’s first organized farmers market was attended by a lone farm vendor.

Today there are nearly 100 vendors sustaining Aurora’s downtown and west side markets.

Communities and local businesses recognize the social and economic benefits of having dedicated spaces for downtown markets. The Pike Place Market in Seattle and the City Market in Rockford, IL, are two distinguished examples of markets with dedicated infrastructure for local farm vendors to sell their products.

Market patrons are prone to extend their downtown visits with a walk to a nearby restaurant or shops. In 2015, the city of Aurora saw just under 80,000 customers visit its multiple farmers markets.

How to Find Your Neighborhood Farmers Market

There are several tools for locating farmers markets and market stands in or near your community. The Kane County Health Department developed an interactive map that allows users to plot the locations of a variety of local food and farm vendors.

If you’re looking for markets within and beyond Kane County, you might also want to visit the USDA’s national Farmers Market Directory. This directory offers the added benefit of allowing users to search for markets based on specific products sold and the forms of payment accepted. This would be useful to anyone utilizing SNAP or WIC benefits to purchase food items.

The Illinois Farmers Market Association and the Kane County Farm Bureau also offer resources on their webpages for locating farmers markets and on-farm stands.

Active Farmers Markets in Kane County

Read the ‘Countdown to Earth Day’ Series!