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Libertyville Farmers Market Continues to Thrive

Despite the drought, there's a great selection of vegetables and fruit at the weekly market.

Whether you're looking for Brussels sprouts, potatoes, tomatoes, baked goods, locally-produced honey or even organic goat milk soap, you can find it at the Libertyville Farmers Market.

While this summer — and farmers' crops — may have been plagued by drought, heat and, ultimately, rain, the market and its goods are thriving.

"It's been pretty good in view of the weather," said Al Scott, manager of the Libertyville Farmers Market. "We had two really hot days and two rainy days."

There are 30 booths at the Libertyville Farmers Market this year, Scott said, and he tries to have a offer a variety of vendors that won't have too much direct competition.

The number of visitors has been solid. Scott said he tries to gauge the crowd by counting the number of people coming in over a five-minute period and then calculating the number for an hour.

"We're probably getting 1,500 to 2,000 in a really good week," he said.

At the Aug. 23 market, many people visited the various produce booths to pick up everything from berries to sweet corn.

While Scott said he heard some of the sweet corn earlier this season wasn't completely filled out, "I just had some that was excellent."

Dean Froelich, owner of Michigan-based Froelich's Finest Fruits and Vegetables, said his farm definitely had a lot of growing issues. An April 24 freeze resulted in the loss of 85 percent of the farm's apples, cherries and peaches.

"Then the drought came," said Froelich. "We spent a lot of money irrigating our crops."

The one good thing that came out of all of that sunshine, Froelich said, was that it resulted in a lot more sugar in crops like corn and tomatoes.

"The sweet corn is very sweet," he said.

His farm ended up with fewer apples than usual. While the apples are usually sold to packers, Froelich plans to just sell them at farmers markets this year.

Even the pumpkins, which he never had to irrigate until this year, are looking great, Froelich said. He said they should be available by late September.

Sue Brosio of Didier Farms in Prairie View added that the first pumpkin picked from her family's farm "was huge with a nice, thick stem.

"They're starting to turn orange already," said Brosio. "The heat makes things ripen faster."

For other crops, Brosio said "the rain came when we needed it. We were hanging on by a wing and a prayer."

Though Froelich said he had to raise his prices a little to make up for the irrigation he had to do at his farm, he noted that what customers find at farmers markets is better than what they'll get in stores.

"The flavor here is tremendous," he said.

The market is held each Thursday, through Oct. 18, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Church Street.

Editor's note: The final date of the Farmers Market has been changed from Oct. 21 to Oct. 18. We apologize for the error.

Al Scott August 24, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Very nice article about Libertyville Farmers Market. The final Thursday is October 18.

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