The jewel tones of summer — scarlet radishes and beets, deep purple eggplants, a vivid rainbow of peppers — are headed for Naperville.
The parking lot of the Fifth Avenue Station will kick off its 26th farmers market season Saturday, bringing in freshly picked produce, cheeses, flowers, honey, meats and other goods produced within a couple hundred miles of the city.
Market manager Kathy Mortensen said the size of the market will remain the same, with 25 vendors signed up to do business this year. A couple of bakers, one of them specializing in organic and gluten-free products, will be new to the venue after the Breadsmith took a pass on hosting a market booth. All the regular growers will return this year, she said, after a long off season.
“They had a good winter,” Mortensen said, alluding to the soil-insulating properties of the deep snowdrifts that accumulated and didn’t budge for many weeks. “Things got planted a little later, because it was a cold spring.”
Nature has been working hard to catch up, after the slow sprouting.
“We have a number of things — radishes, lettuce, spinach, green onions — that will be ready for Saturday,” said Karen Stojan of Stojan’s Vegetables in Maple Park, who also will have the last spears of spring asparagus on her table for opening day. “We just had a little slower start because of the weather, but things are shaping up well now for the season.”
The Saturday morning market is no longer the only open-air greengrocer in town during the growing season. St. John’s Episcopal Church is scheduled to begin its second farmers market season from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday. Presented as a service project, the market outside the church at West Street and Aurora Avenue raises funds that are donated to local nonprofits.
Among the features of the midweek market is a collection of recipes distributed to patrons each week, driven by what’s in season at that point.
The 18 vendors signed up to sell their wares at the St. John’s market include a Wisconsin cheesemonger; a Naperville flower grower; a Park Ridge ice pop maker who uses unusual combinations of freshly harvested flavors; a bread baker whose loaves will be fresh out of the oven; a Naperville beekeeper; and a seller of meats, eggs, smoked fish and wild rice from Wisconsin, among others.
As do most farmers markets, the local ones will gain volume as the days grow longer and the temperatures warm up.
“There’s definitely stuff that’s going to be here on our first Saturday,” Mortensen said. “And as more things blossom, more will be coming to the market each week.”Tags: Farmers' Market, food