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Moving to Fountain Square ‘would kill’ farmers market, warns president of friends group –

Representatives from Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets (FEFM), a local nonprofit that advocates eating local, are scheduled to meet with city officials next week to discuss concerns they have about a recently issued consultants’ report, which called for moving the outdoor Saturday market to the Fountain Square area.

The group has come out strongly against the recommendation, found in the action plan proposed by Philadelphia-based Interface Studio as one way to improve the city’s retail districts.

The report recommended the city consider a move of the market from its current location at the intersection of University and Oak Avenue, adjacent to the city’s 1800 Maple Avenue parking garage, to Fountain Square. 

At the existing location, farmers can arrive at “3 a.m., and start unloading and everything, and all that noise downtown [in the Fountain Square area] probably wouldn’t be welcome,” said Vikki Proctor, president of FEFM board, explaining the group’s opposition.

The farmers also need their trucks close to them, “and there’s no room for that in Fountain Square. … It truly would probably just kill the market,” she said.

Evanston’s farmers market, which runs on Saturday mornings for about half the year, is hosted in a lot at the corner of University and Oak Avenue. Credit: City of Evanston

The group had fought off a similar proposal from the city in 2021 to move the market to the core downtown area. After officials stepped back from moving ahead, Lawrence Hemingway, the city’s parks and recreation director at the time, assured FEFM members that “if there was any change in the location of the market, that the Friends and the market manager would be invited to that conversation,” recalled Proctor.

“The Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets was more than cool to this plan when it was proposed in 2021,” the group said in a posting on its website. “Aside from any other reasons, that was largely because there had been no contact with the Market Manager or with vendors to obtain opinions and data about whether the notion was feasible, and how the change of venue would affect the market’s size and popularity.”

To ‘prepare and pilot for’ a move

The Evanston Thrives Framework” created through Interface’s action report has given new life to the idea of transplanting the farmers market. And, although the creators of the draft plan appear to have done a lot of outreach in developing their proposals, that outreach did not include the current management of the market or any of its nearly 60 vendors, the group said.

Read More:Moving to Fountain Square ‘would kill’ farmers market, warns president of friends group –