Farmers markets add online orders, drive-thrus to help businesses get back to work

Chicago News

CHICAGO — This weekend had some beautiful days to go out and browse your favorite farmers market, but COVID-19 has kept most of them closed.

On the Northwest Side, three neighborhoods came together to give customers a way to shop and help farmers and vendors to finally get their products back to market.

“It feels good to be outdoors again doing what we love to do,” said German Diaz, Vegetarian Express.

Knowing how tough the pandemic has been on small businesses, Jefferson Park, Portage Park and Independence Park have joined forces for a collaborative farmers market

But at this one you can’t come and browse just yet; you can only order online, drive through and pick up.  

“Keep people safe, but still be able to support local vendors as well as our farmers,” said Merill Miller, Northwest Farmers Market Collective.

Naidelin Alvarez’s family has six generations of farming based out of downstate Carbondale, and said she would rather have markets like they used to be.

The drive-through farmers market is testing the waters during the COVID-19 pandemic when large gatherings are discouraged. 

Fannie’s Cafe and Bakery is also a family owned business that’s just happy to have another outlet to sell their sweets.

Times were so tough for German Diaz, he had to lay off family members. Now with the warm sun shining down, these business owners hope to finally get back to business.

“It’s been really tough you know these days,” Diaz said.

The next farmers market won’t be until June 28, and customers need to order by the Friday night before.

The slow return of farmers markets is a welcome sight in neighborhoods around Chicago.

In Pilsen, residents celebrated the first day of the annual community market Sunday. It usually starts in May, but had to move back because of Chicago’s phased re-opening plan.   

In addition to showcasing food and goods from area vendors, organizers are providing masks and gloves so people can feel safe while having a good time.  

The Pilsen Community Market is every Sunday for the rest of the summer starting 9 am, rain or shine.

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