The highly anticipated Homewood Farmer’s Market will open on Saturday, May 8.
Market Manager Kate Duff has worked closely with the Cook County Department of Public Health and Illinois Farmers Market Association to provide the Homewood and Flossmoor communities with a safe and diverse farmers market, despite the pandemic.
“It was honestly rather heartbreaking for me (in 2020) to let go of so much to reconfigure the market so it was safe,” Duff said.
Although things may look slightly different, shoppers can expect the no-touch market to start earlier than usual with the May 8 opening.
“I wanted to give the vendors a few extra weeks, and I figured people would be desperate to get out and do something outside,” Duff says.
She plans to keep the market operating through the second week of October.
Shoppers can attend the market at its staple location in downtown Homewood on Martin Avenue between Ridge Road and Chestnut Road. Hours of operation will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will allot the first hour for seniors, those with disabilities and those considered at-risk.
There will be a single entry point on Chestnut to help account for the 60-customer entry capacity, 10 more than last year’s capacity. All customers will be required to wear masks for their entire duration at the market and wash or sanitize hands upon entry. No pets will be permitted, except for service animals.
Children in strollers do not count toward customer capacity.
People who have been vaccinated at least two weeks prior and can present their proof-of-vaccination card as they enter the market will not be counted in the total of attendees, according to the latest state guidelines.
“It’s not a requirement, but it would help us allow more people to come in and stay safe.” Additionally, those who can provide a negative COVID test for a maximum of three days before visiting the market will not be counted in the 60-person limit,” Duff said.
Due to the fast circulation of money at farmers markets, Duff encourages “touchless forms of payment. Nearly all the vendors take credit cards, so we really encourage you to pay by credit or debit card or to bring small bills for exact change.”
Another aspect that may look different in the market layout is that vendors must be more than 6 feet apart. Duff said, “Close to a quarter of the booth space can’t be occupied so that I couldn’t have the community groups, local businesses and no entertainment due to social distancing.”
On the bright side, there will be local favorites that will be returning, like Sunshine Kitchen, a guest favorite that took last year off. The business sells vegan/vegetarian, salads, baked goods and hummus.
“Their stuff is wonderful, and people love them, plus they’re local,” Duff said.
Other favorites like Zeldenrust, Rabid Brewing, Cynthia’s Gumbo, Stamper Cheese Company, Bite Me Bakery and Sanoma Farm will be returning.
“We do have a new farmer, called Fox at the Fork Farm out of Monee, a small family-owned farm that grows sustainably,” Duff said. Another new vendor in attendance this year is Southland’s Sweets, a gluten-free baked good customizable to allergen/ intolerance needs.
Duff wants the community to know “how incredibly appreciative I and all of the vendors were for the support that the community gave the market last year.”
Looking ahead, Duff said the return of the Wednesday evening market is still under review. According to state guidelines, it is expected to be authorized at some point, Duff said.