Andersonville Farmers Market opens with higher capacity, fewer restrictions


Lively violin music played as dozens of shoppers strolled in the sun between two rows of tents, enjoying the sights and smells of street food, soups, spices, treats like donuts and baklava, and fresh produce.

The Andersonville Farmers’ Market opened on Wednesday for its 12th season and second year of operation during the pandemic.

Kayla Taylor, an employee of the First Slice Pie Cafe, said she was excited to sell pastries now that conditions are less scary.

“People feel safer outside and everyone can come together and talk and feel good,” Taylor said.

Joan Oberndorf, the manager of Andersonville Farmers’ Market, said this year that the city is allowing up to 135 customers to enter the market at the same time, a 40% increase from 2020 capacity. , dogs are now allowed to re-enter the market space and buyers will be able to touch the products they plan to buy.

She said everyone at the market was required to wear a mask and social distancing, and that hand sanitizer was located at kiosks and entrances for visitors to use. Despite the slightly relaxed restrictions, Oberndorf said eating or drinking was still prohibited in the market.

Oberndorf said the farmer’s market has a total of 26 vendors, with several shops selling at the market every two weeks. The market will also offer a weekly space for local traders and artisans.

Kristine Subido, black mask in the center, and her mother Melinda Subido help a customer to check out at their Pecking Order booth at the Andersonville Farmers Market on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.
Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times

Melinda Subido and her daughter Kristine, co-owners of Pecking Order, a Filipino food restaurant brand, said they have been selling at farmers’ markets for eight years, relying heavily on sales at Logan Square markets and Andersonville.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Melinda Subido said the duo lost 80% of their annual income due to lower sales and additional spending.

Pecking Order served its food hot, but due to safety guidelines Subido said everything is now sold frozen or refrigerated in microwave-safe containers.

“Before, most of the time, people [would] shop around and eat, ”Subido said. “It’s more fun. The sense of smell makes it more exciting.

Jasmine Sheth, founder and chef of Tasting India, a weekly meal delivery service focused on different regional Indian cuisines, started the business a year ago after being fired due to the pandemic.

Sheth said the brand is owned by POC and owned by women and aims to break stereotypes by shedding light on lesser-known Indian cuisines. Tasting India also creates its own spice blends, including masala chai, cardamom coffee, goda masala, and East Indian masala.

“There are so many people ordering my menus every week that I can’t meet because of COVID-19,” Sheth said. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase the breadth of what we do beyond the weekly menus, talking about spices and Indian influences.”

A family chooses donuts to buy at Virgil Roundtree and his Downstate Donuts stall at the Andersonville Farmers Market on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

A family chooses donuts to buy at Virgil Roundtree and his Downstate Donuts stall at the Andersonville Farmers Market on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.
Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times

Virgil Roundtree, founder of Downstate Donuts, which sells donuts made with potatoes and organic ingredients sourced from local farms, said the company was essentially launched in farmers’ markets over 2 years ago.

He said although business was tough during the pandemic, the company was able to quickly switch to an online delivery system and sell using carts.

“Events, catering, things of that nature – which was a huge driving force for the business – evaporated pretty quickly,” Roundtree said. “So we had to be very intuitive to find ways to reach our customers directly.”

Located on Catalpa Avenue between Clark Street and Ashland Avenue, the Andersonville Farmer’s Market will be open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Wednesday until October 20. Admission from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. will be reserved for visitors over the age of 60 or at increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

The Farmers’ Market still offers a hybrid shopping experience, with the option of visiting the market in person or ordering online from vendors for a pickup on Wednesdays. Customers can pre-order items from Thursday at noon through Monday at 11 p.m. using the WhatsGood app or website.

Max, an 11-year-old Jack Russel Terrier, takes a seat at the Andersonville Farmer's Market, which once again allows dogs to enter space.

Max, an 11-year-old Jack Russel Terrier, takes a seat at the Andersonville Farmer’s Market, which once again allows dogs to enter space. Its owner, Andersonville resident Lee Keech, said they plan to come back every week in search of the products.
Mari Devereaux / Sun-Times

Elizabeth Ewing, an Andersonville resident who came to the farmer’s market with her four-year-old son Van III, said she shopped there every year “no matter what” to support small businesses with sustainable practices .

While dodging her son’s requests for more of her chocolate potato donut, Ewing said she felt safe going to the market as there were guidelines in place.

“You get the freshest veg that hasn’t been in the trucks or made it across the world,” Ewing said. “You never know when you might really need options other than traditional food stores, so it’s good to have those connections and relationships.”


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