October 1, 2020

Central Illinois farmers markets prepare for winter | Business

Farmers markets across Illinois have adjusted their outdoor season schedules and switched to a variety of options, including hybrid and online market models. 



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Above Normal Eggs co-owners Charlie Larkin and Shirley Grimes prepare to take care of their flock of chickens in their barn at 1131 Northtown Road in north Normal.




Illinois has more than 300 farmers markets of varying size, all using a wide variety of models that reflect and fill the needs of their communities, said Janie Maxwell, executive director of the Illinois Farmers Market Association. 

“Most markets have opted in this season to move outdoors because that seems to be a safe environment to operate in,” said Maxwell.

Many markets have implemented delayed openings, are offering curbside pickup, home delivery or both, she said. The model typically depends on the size of the market, which are often run by volunteers.

“There are a lot of farmer’s markets in Illinois, so you’re going to find each community responding differently with the circumstances that they’re facing,” said Maxwell.

Online markets

While different online models, including e-commerce businesses, have popped up since the start of the pandemic, many farmers have expressed their enjoyment for attending in-person markets.



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Dozens of eggs wait to be packaged at Above Normal Eggs, 1131 Northtown Road in north Normal.




“The farmers market downtown is a unique atmosphere,” said Charlie Larkin, who raises a variety of chicken, ducks and quail at Above Normal Eggs in Normal. “Before the pandemic, there’s been bands, and people want to stay there the whole day. Now since people are worried about the coronavirus, it has slowed down and picked up online.”

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