If you’ve visited the Brookfield Farmers Market this summer, you no doubt have noticed that it has grown substantially. More than 40 vendors (out of a rotating lineup of around 75) can now be found in the parking lots wrapping around the south and west sides of the Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave., every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
And the farmers market’s new manager, Gina Sharenow, would like shoppers – on July 8 there were about 1,800 — to let the American Farmland Trust know how much you like the changes and help maintain the market’s momentum in the future.
“We still have room in the front to add 15 to 20 more vendors,” Sharenow said. “It’s been nice to hear people in the community speaking about how great the market is.”
Through Sept. 18, the American Farmland Trust, a nonprofit whose mission is “protecting agricultural land, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land,” is accepting online votes for the top farmers markets in the U.S. via their annual America’s Farmers Market Celebration.
“In many regions, farmers markets have been vital to keeping existing family farms in business, enabling new farms to get started and creating jobs and opportunity in these communities,” said John Piotti, American Farmland Trust president and CEO in a press release announcing the contest.
People can vote (only once) for their favorite farmers market – the Riverside Farmers Market, which is held every Wednesday from 2:30 to 7 p.m. in Centennial Park is also part of the contest — by visiting the nonprofit’s website.
Sharenow and her volunteers, however, are soliciting shoppers’ support directly at their table every Saturday and on their social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, where you can scan a QR code that will take you directly to the spot on the American Farmland Trust website where you can vote for Brookfield.
The trust will be handing out cash awards totaling $15,000 to the top vote-getters — $5,000 for first place, $2,500 for second, $1,500 for third, $750 for fourth and $250 for fifth.
As of July 18, Brookfield had 375 votes, which put it quite a distance behind the leader, the Collingswood Farmers Market in New Jersey, which had 1,659 votes.
However, the top vote-getter in each state gets $100, and as of July 18, Brookfield was leading the field in Illinois, ahead of second-place Open Air Farmers Market at Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake (256).
“The money would help with our efforts to keep on growing and give back to the community,” Sharenow said.
One of the things the Brookfield Farmers Market would like to create is a scholarship that can be given to high schoolers who volunteer for the farmers market. There is a Brookfield Farmers Market teen committee, said Sharenow, who get hands-on experience at the market.