It’s a hard time to make a plan. Makes it easier when you offload what is extraneous and focus on what is essential. In Oak Park, this COVID Spring, we look ahead to what will be a very peculiar and stripped-down summer. 

Under its emergency powers, Oak Park officials have already cancelled plans for all public events through June 30. Among other annual markers being eliminated is A Day in Our Village, scheduled for early June. Local schools are resetting graduations. We’d expect to see the 4th of July festivities — parade and fireworks — also cancelled. 

And that’s all good. We’ll live. And, hopefully, we’ll stay alive.

But here’s a hard one. Oak Park Farmers Market. No, not the donuts. Not the music. Not even the community-building camaraderie. But the food.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and cheese, maybe flowers, too. In a health crisis these are essentials. In a moment when, despite Donald Trump’s assurance that the nation’s food supply is “totally under control,” we worry about the availability of fresh food. So finding a path to open a much different market on Saturday mornings is critical.

Conversations are reportedly underway at village hall about what a socially-distanced farmers market looks like. This newly closed-mouth village hall says guidance will be forthcoming. In the meanwhile, members of the village-appointed Farmers Market Commission are not meeting in May. And this being Oak Park, there are people working on a workaround involving a system of virtual markets and no-contact deliveries from farmers to consumers.

Potentially overlooked in this scheme are the many, many West Siders who support the Farmers Market given the dearth of fresh food options in Austin and Garfield Park. Oak Park’s market, years back, was a pioneer in bringing LINK purchase options to the market. 

Parades are nice. Fresh food is vital.

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