Like a Squirrel

I get a kick out of squirrels.  Those furry little beasts, every year, are a riot as they get ready for winter.  Around early August they go from jumping tree to tree, raising their young, getting feisty, to then more heavy-duty digging in the ground (or my potted plants), mad dashes across the street, and harvesting, eating, and storing their eatable nut treasures.  If you cannot see where this is going there are quite a few similarities between them and the vendors and customers at the Elgin Harvest Market:


1) We are continuing to dig up, create, and harvest from our gardens and kitchens to sell fresh local products at the market. We also will have this Thursday from the IL Extension office Charlotte Thayer and Renee Rinn – Master Gardeners to help with any questions with your gardens now in the Fall or how to bed them down for the winter, along with Bob Jungwirth with Davey Tree.

2) We actually are not making mad dashes anymore across the street, with construction being over, but our customers might be making mad dashes from their cars or Downtown workplaces to get their favorite treat – especially with Twin Garden Farms, Reader’s Apiaries, and Modern Renaissance having their last day at the market this Thursday!

3) There is certainly a lot to eat, and also to store, from the Elgin Harvest Market – so make sure to check out our vendor tab for what you need to stock up on the next two weeks or how to get supplied  during the winter months. Also along with storing food, be sure to store away some good info on taking care of yourself this winter season by getting info and screenings with Alexian Brothers and Chiro One.

Additionally….enjoy tunes with Fun Time Music DJ 4-6pm and also live Me & My Band 6-8pm, and kids can try fresh melon at the kids booth with Highland Christian AcademyDNA Gala 50/50 raffle tickets are also on sale along with getting your Harvest Market tokens to make purchases with your Link and/or Credit Cards.


Three. Three Weeks Left. Three Weeks Left of the 2012 Season.

Yes folks are market season is finishing up in three weeks with the last date being October 4, though looking at the produce and products offered you would think we are in the middle of our season. So with this in mind be thinking not just what you want to get for the week or for that dinner on Friday night – it is time to stock up and exchange emails with the vendors to get your:

  • Knives sharpened for the winter
  • Spices and honey for the pantry
  • To continue and/or finish canning
  • Ask Troggs Hollow about any shares available to get a bin of veggies
  • Favorite vendors information for functions, gatherings, or weekly foods you still want to get like bread, cheese, desserts, or have Chef Quincy (The Man with the Grill) to cater your next function or teach your family to cook!
  • Get early Christmas presents/stocking stuffers with handcrafted bow and arrows, soap, or wool products

This week we have several special items lined up and for your information:

  • The WRMN Radio Shopping Show will be present with giveaways and info
  • La Spiceria, Modern Renaissance, Reader’s Apiaries, and Hill Bunker will be on hand with spices, archery items, honey, and wool products.  This is La Spiceria’s and Modern Renaissance’s last time at the market this season and the second to last week for the other two – so stock up!
  • Be sure to ask at our Information booth for canning information and also to buy our 50/50 DNA Gala Raffle tickets for $10.
  • Also offering great information, freebies,  free screenings, info on gardening, check out the booths for Alexian Brothers, Davey Tree, Salon Couture, Restore, Energy Impact Illinois, Elgin Public Museum, etc.
  • Jams Clipper will be playing 6-8pm
  • And the market will be lit up with lights from 7-8pm!

Save the Date:

September 27 – IL Extension Master Gardeners will be present to help with your gardening questions, Fun Time Music DJ ing from 4-6pm and Me & My Band will be performing 6-8pm, last day for Reader’s Apiaries (honey).

October 4 – Last Day of the Market! Several special performances by Eric McMann, youth doing excerpts from Peter Pan, costumed characters?, and the Literacy Connection selling pumpkins and Ecker Center present to give info about their upcoming Festival of Trees!

Once Upon a Market…(The history of the Downtown Elgin Harvest Market)

I was able to sit with Ina Dews, one of the market committee members, and get the full story of how the market came to be,  since she has been faithfully with the market since the beginning of its inception and has even received awards for her dedication and volunteerism to the market. So in view of the vintage market last week let’s learn some history…

In the year of 2000, the Downtown Neighborhood Association(DNA) had only been around for a couple years.  They were just getting started and wanted new events to get things happening in Downtown Elgin, to get people to work, shop, live, and enjoy Downtown.  The City Manager for the City of Elgin at the time, was Joyce Parker, and she asked the DNA if they would do a farmers market.  DNA put an ad in the Courier newspaper mentioning they were looking for a volunteer to run the market. Ina saw it in the paper and called them up with her interest, though she wasn’t sure if they would let her. Turns out she was the only one who answered, and they were thrilled to have her help! Ina had already been going to markets in the area and had grown up in Texas were they were common to have.

So they did a test run in September of 2000, for four weeks on Thursdays, from 3-6pm.  They had four vendors: S&D (Honey and Jams/Jellies), Stroger’s Farm, Bread from Lake Zurich, and she believes Windy Acres Farm. It was located right next to the US Post office, in the Civic Parking lot in Downtown Elgin. It was successful enough that they decided in 2001 to do the full season and start the second week of June on a Thursday to the last Thursday in September from 3-6pm. They had 6 vendors that year. This is when the DNA started counting the market seasons and why we are in our twelfth year, though technically you could say we are finishing our thirteenth season:)

Ina became the on site manager at the market from 2000 – 2010, with DNA staff assisting with the paperwork.  Then 2011 to the present Ina has been an onsite volunteer in the DNA information booth. Over that period of time Ina worked with 7 various staff members and 3 executive directors, plus a market committee for five of those years.

I asked Ina why did they choose Thursday’s to have the market – since I am asked that almost every week!  She said that they chose Thursdays back in 2000 because they wanted a different day to easily get vendors, since many weekend markets were already set in place.  I then asked her about the name of the market – since most are called farmers markets.  She said they wanted it to be unique and for people to know that their products were just harvested:)

When asked what Ina likes about the market she mentioned several things.  One, she likes the variety and quality of the vendors that this market has from produce, to spices, to breads, to honey, etc.  She also likes that the market has been educational the past 4-5 years and this year enjoyed the canning grant, the Link card being accepted at the market, having Chef Quincy on site, and a place as a family gathering.  In fact for her, her most important accomplishments of this market, so far, are that families can come to the market with no huge cost and that she was able, with staff help, to get the Link and Credit card system up and running this year.

Lastly I asked Ina where the market should head for the future.  She mentioned she would like to see more vendors that produce or have orchards, fall items, cakes/pies, more soul food like greens, black-eyed peas, and big green tomatoes.  I asked her if she will be here next year – and she said “As long as I am able.”

Thank you Ina Dews for helping us preserve our history and serving the Downtown Elgin Harvest Market faithfully.