Evanston resident Tim Murphy was at Saturday despite the cold and wet weather, maintaining a tradition he’s kept for four years.
“We come most Saturday mornings, rain or shine,” he said. “You see the same vendors and a lot of the same people. It’s part of the rhythm of the week.”
Wilmette resident Kristen Westman agreed that her visits to the farmer’s market were about more than just shopping.
“It’s a chance to be with the community,” she said.
Since the European-style farmer’s market started running at the station in 2003, a sense of community has emerged between the shoppers and the vendors, many of whom have been selling their wares in Wilmette for nearly a decade.
“I have people that every year make the choice to drive all the way from Michigan to Wilmette, bypassing many, many markets on the way because they have such a close connection to the community,” said Leslie Cahill, Midwest manager for Bensidoun USA, which runs 13 French markets throughout the Chicago area.
New Offerings at Wilmette French Market
This year’s market offers a few new options in addition to the flowers, produce, meats, baked goods, crafted items and herbs that have become mainstays.
New offerings include traditional caramels and chocolates from Argentina and a booth from Geneva’s Hahn’s Bakery selling mustards, mayonnaise, artisanal pasta, Amish pretzels, small batch jams and jellies and bakery items.
Souhayda Oraha has sold handmade purses at the French Market for three years, and this year added hand-painted dishes on stands which you use to hold jewelry or bath products or just put on display.
“Nobody’s doing this,” Oraha said.
Visitors who get inspired to try growing their own food can connect with another new vendor, Smart Gardener, a service that will help you design, plant and manage a garden at home.
“We really think that people who are food centric and really care where their food comes from are a really great market for us,” said CEO Carl Alguire.
Local Restaurants Sourcing Locally
The farm fresh food isn’t just going into the kitchens of local homeowners. Derek Dwyer, executive chef of Wilmette’s Fuel, was at the market Saturday shopping for cheeses for the restaurant.
“We try to source locally as often as possible so when there’s a farmers market right outside the restaurant it’s hard not to come,” he said. “Every single week we’re going to be out here.”
Shoppers can feel good about supporting local vendors and charitable causes. Nuns from Fraternite Notre Dame sell traditional French pastries to raise money for a Chicago soup kitchen. You can also buy placemats, baskets and napkins made by women in Ghana.
“The money goes back to the women and supports children to stay in schools,” said Amy Barrows, who started selling at the Wilmette market last year. “It’s a business and also a ministry.”
The Wilmette French Market runs from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. through Nov. 3. For more information visit: wilmette.com/business/frenchmarket