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Homewood Farmers Market Back in Local Hands

The Homewood Farmers Market will return on Saturday, May 24 for a 21-week season extending through October 11. The Village has also switched management from a contractor, back to the local level.

The Homewood Farmers Market will be back before you know it—and better than ever.

After three years with the Bensidoun USA network of French-styled outdoor markets, the Homewood Farmers Market is returning to local management—Homewood resident Kate Duff working alongside Village staff.

The search is on for local vendors, a change of pace from the more northern-based ones on Bensidoun's roster. Many of the previous vendors found the location difficult, and often wouldn't commit to an entire season with the market, which runs from May 24 through October 11 this year. Duff also aims for better integration of the market into the Village's lineup of other special events.

"It's harder to try to mesh them together, when the manager is not on-site," Duff said.

That won't be a problem for Duff, whose own business makes an appearance at the market. Homewood Kitchen Garden features chemical-free produce grown in the backyards of Duff and business partner Nancy Spiegel. The business also offers handcrafted personal care items such as lip balm, body wash, and lotion bar.

Duff wants more local vendors to fill the farmers market lineup. The 30-year-old market attracts hundreds of residents of Homewood and surrounding communities each Saturday morning. Vendors sell fresh, local produce, cheese, breads and baked goods, coffee and tea, jams, salsas, flowers, and unique handcrafted items. Live music and family entertainment are featured at the Farmers Market every week, and “green” events like electronic recycling and paper shredding are scheduled throughout the season. 

Specifically, Duff said, they're looking for vendors selling "ready-to-eat" goods. 

Duff noticed last year that many visitors will bring friends and families and settle in to enjoy some of the market's live entertainment. While they're there, she'd like to make sure they have plenty of easily portable, prepared snacks and foods for them to enjoy.

"We'd like to facilitate that."

The market starts Memorial Day weekend, with the first day focusing on the start of gardening season. Think spring blooms—annuals, perennials—for browsing, along with gardening tips and other features. 

Homewood's Bloomberg Gardens will return this year, along with Zeldenrust Farms and Sonoma Farm—both of Chicago Heights. Sonoma will sell its artisan olives, vinegars, sauces and dips. Stamper Cheese Company will also be back, with its unique cheese products. 

The market kicks off Saturday, May 24, and takes place every Saturday through Oct. 11, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of Homewood Village Hall parking lot at 2020 Chestnut Road.

The Farmers Market is expanding and would like to hear from new vendors, especially in the following areas: organic and heirloom produce, ethnic foods, and ready-to-eat foods. To apply for a position or to recommend a new vendor, please contact farmersmarket@homesweethomewood.com.

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Dolores February 19, 2014 at 06:56 PM
When the market was held in the St. Joseph's parking lot, there was a local salsa producer who had some of the best salsa I'd ever tasted. It was a small family business and I've never seen them since. Perhaps whoever was organizing it then still has their contact information? Also, I don't know if Tallgrass Beef does farmers markets but they were founded by Bill Kurtis and they're located in Chicago. There's another grass-fed meat producer that's local that I've seen at other farmer's markets - I'll get the name. Can't wait to have the old market back!
Dolores February 19, 2014 at 07:06 PM
The other meat producer is Nature's Choice Farm out in Grant Park, IL.
Dolores February 19, 2014 at 07:11 PM
Another organization to consider is EmpanadUS - they make different varieties of empanadas. They were at Global Fusion and were phenomenal (the apple empanadas - wonderful)! (Did I say how excited I am about the old market coming back?)
Kate Duff February 19, 2014 at 09:01 PM
Hi Dolores, I sent out invites to Nature's Choice & EmpanadUS last weekend. Tallgrass Beef runs their pastures in Kansas, so they won't meet the 100-mile eligibility rule. I don't remember the salsa vendor at St Joe's and they're not on my old vendor lists -- let me ask around and see what I can find on them. Thanks for all the suggestions! Kate

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