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What's the best thing about the Oak Park Farmers' Market? Many quickly say that it's the nationally known donuts! I say it's community! Last Saturday marked the last market of 2010. It'll be six and a half months until the next market on May 21, 2011.
Where else can you find every fruit and veggie under the sun in one place? Where else would friendly and helpful farmers guide you to things you may have never tried at the store? The selection of jams, annuals, perennials and cheese is endless! Some go for the music; I go for the smiles (young and old).
I feel lucky to know the brain behind the operation - Marge Gockel. The Gockels are dear friends of mine and quite the powerhouse couple. It was Marge and Carla Lind who had the passion to bring a market to Oak Park in 1976. This year marked the 35th anniversary of donuts and a selection of produce that people crave and keep coming back for. If you've ever worked the donut making end of this operation, you know that it is a HUGE job and one that generates thousands of dollars for local not-for-profits.
My friend (and Farmers' Market Commissioner) Frank Pond said it well, "The Oak Park Farmers' Market is a civilized, community event that makes us all more civilized, like an agora of Green times. Now that I am a Commissioner, I realize that the Market doesn't just happen. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes work every week and 2 staff members and a Commissioner that meet and deliberate monthly. It's a wonderful event that's part of the OP identity that doesn't just happen, but takes work."
The Oak Park Farmers' Market will forever be a BOOP in my BOOP BOOK.