LAKE BLUFF — Produce picked less than the day before and fish caught off Scotland swimming three days prior were part of the fare as the Lake Bluff Farmers Market opened its 24th season June 9 in downtown Lake Bluff.
The market will operate from 7 a.m. to noon each Friday through October 13, according to Gridley Swanton, the market manager. The Lake Bluff resident is starting her seventh year in that role.
Rows of containers of strawberries picked June 8 lined the table at the K & K Farms’ booth. Linda Koenigshof, whose husband grows the berries at their Coloma, Mich., farm, said they have been coming to the market since it opened.
“This is a very friendly market,” said Koenigshof. “There is a lot of community support. It’s so local. Everything is right here downtown.”
Just to the west of K & K was Six Generations Farmin’ Local, with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Sue White, who was running the booth, said most of the produce was picked the day before on one of the company’s southern Illinois farms. There was plenty of asparagus, lettuce, green beans, radishes and more.
Produce was not the only thing fresh at the market. The Aspiring Kitchen based in Cary had a variety of fresh fish, which owner Bob De Palma said was flown to his location packed in ice and displayed at the market. He said the salmon was caught off the Faroe Islands June 6.
Along with K & K, Pleasant Prairie Farm from Wisconsin is returning to the market for the 24th straight year, according to Swanton. New this year are European Homemade Goodies offering Serbian and Italian pastries, Lake Forest-based Marvalhas selling olive oil, tomato cream and cheese stuffed chili, Tastebudz and Swirl Café.
Swirl Café is one of two food trucks operating at the market. It sells coffee and baked goods. The other truck is Taste of Paris, with French pastries.
Tastebudz is operated by Tiffiny Kovin-Timmeney. She said she operated the Grill as a full service restaurant in Highwood but is now running a catering business out of Highland Park. At the market, she was selling hummus, barbeque pulled pork and frozen soups.
As shoppers browsed the booths lining Scranton and Center Avenues along the Village Green, live music was coming from the gazebo in the park, and a group of children were sitting there listening to stories.
“They walk over from the library every week,” said Swanton. “They’re just adorable.”
Swanton said the live music is all local, with Spencer Schmid, Terry Moran and Austin McGreevy alternating each week. The music is intended as a background for the rest of the activities.
The market began 24 years ago as a business development idea for downtown Lake Bluff, according to Pony Swanton, Gridley Swanton’s husband. He said it was started to bring foot traffic to the village’s core.
“There are more vendors now than there were people here then,” said Pony Swanton. “Now look at it. It’s an alive and vibrant business district.”
Gridley said the market has become a meeting place for people from Lake Bluff, Lake Forest and beyond. She said the volunteer help from the community is one of the key reasons for the market’s continued success as well as the location.
“It’s right here in downtown Lake Bluff,” said Gridley Swanton. “We’re on the grass in a park. The gazebo is the center of town. People come here to see each other.”
Vendors also offer vegetable and fruit spreads, waffle pastries, cheeses, cookies, cakes, pies, fresh cut flowers, honey, garlic, made- to-order crepes, potted plants, gluten-free breads, meat, eggs, pickled products, dog treats, kettle corn and knife sharpening.