Successful Wicker Park Farmers Market opening is a beacon for "new normal"


The successful opening of the summer Wicker Park Farmers Market* during the July 4th weekend has vendors, organizers and shoppers hopeful for at least an acceptable "new normal." 


The entry line moved quickly

With the entrance at Wicker Park Ave. and Damen, people hang out along the fence, masked and social (physical) distancing. Market staffers and community volunteers allow 50 people in at a time.

This weekend they are also asking people to support a food drive for I Grow Chicago's summer camp. 

Shoppers are asked to continue through the market, exiting at the south end of the market. As one shopper started to retrace her steps back to a vendor she passed, she suddenly stopped. "Oh, I forgot we are not to go back and forth…only forward!"


Kyle Jacobson


Beyond that, everyone seemed happy to be out choosing their purchases. Distancing by some vendors was greater than others. "To make buyers more comfortable, we are putting more distance between us and the public," explained Kyle Jacobson of Jacobson Family Farm as he moved his tables around. 

"We are doing very well here, this has been a good market," he said enthusiastically. 

Farming for four years out of Antioch, IL, Jacobson was at the indoor Wicker Park Farmers Market last winter. Historically, his family farm is a supplier to local restaurants. 


Shelli, Bria and Paul Meulenans of Wild Coyote Farm

Wild Coyote Farm from Berrien Springs, MI, is a family affair with Paul and Shelli Meulenans assisted by daughter Bria. This is their third year as full time farmers. He was in finance and business and she was a registered dietitian. 

They have learned that they have to think on their feet, be nimble and creative. "By the second week in May, we took our head out of the sand," said Paul laughing. "We needed a new business model. 

"The produce was in the field and we had to get it to market. We cut the number of markets we were in and re-designed our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. We now have a totally customizable CSA and do home deliveries. 


Cherries are just some of the fruits in season

"We are all about getting our products picked the night before or morning of a market or delivery. Many of our products are very perishable…like raspberries," explained Paul. 

The two markets they will in this year are Wicker Park and Andersonville. 


Tomatillo and okra are just waiting to be snatched up by local "chefs"

Beyond these two farmers, Wicker Park, in its 20th season, has several other growers including Iron Creek Farm, Nichols Farm and Orchard and Petals who have been staples from the beginning. There are 30 vendors of farmers, growers and prepared foods who will rotate through the weekly markets to Oct. 25. 


An assortment of mushrooms...don't forget the fresh garlic!

"The Market was well received by our vendors and customers," comments Market Manager Alice Howe. "They were grateful that we re-opened and are excited about the rest of the season.

"We appreciate people being patient and respectful of our new protocols and hope they enjoy our live musicians and participate in our composting program." 

Help Support I Grow Chicago Summer Camp
Donations of cleaning supplies and plant based foods may be made at the July 12 market's entry point. Non-perishables may include rice and lentils. 

*In their 20th year, the market is organized by Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the Wicker Park Bucktown Special Service Area (SSA) #33 with Alice Howe as the Program Manager.



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