A produce stall for Forty Acres Fresh Market at the Austin Town Hall Farmers Market. Credit: Provided

AUSTIN — The weekly farmers market outside Austin Town Hall Park is back.

The city market is 1-6 p.m. Thursdays at the Austin Town Hall Park, 5610 W. Lake St. It is organized by Forty Acres Fresh Market with the sponsorship of the city’s cultural affairs department. The season runs through Sept. 30.

Building off a successful expansion of the markets last year, this season will last longer so residents can get fresh, healthy produce from local growers like Parra Farms, as well as prepared foods and handcrafted goods. Danie’s Delicious Detox Drinks will return with juices and cleanses.

New vendors will also expand the range of goods available at the market. Meat products will be offered for the first time from the Chicago Meat Collective, and Chicago Fair Trade will join the market to bring ethically sourced coffee beans to the table.

Two houseplant vendors will also have stalls at the market: Brenna’s Greenhouse and the Get Growing Foundation.

“Farmers markets have evolved into more of makers markets. You have people that bake, you have people that make artisan crafts. It diversifies what’s being offered there. Houseplants help beautify a person’s home. They add more oxygen to the air. People in Austin deserve places where they can beautify their homes,” said Liz Abunaw, founder of Forty Acres.

The markets are a great chance for small, local businesses that don’t have a lot of capital to attract more customers without much upfront investment, Abunaw said.

“A farmers market is a way of bringing business to people. They try your food there, they love it, they might call for a larger catering order,” she said.

City organizers are still accepting applications from vendors and it is free to participate. To join the Austin Townhall Market as a vendor, apply online.

The markets will be a welcoming environment for residents to gather safely outside and “bring more foot traffic and bring more activation” to Austin, said Alisa Baum, program director for the city markets.

“People want to be outside and want to get together,” she said. “It’s nice to give them the opportunity to buy groceries, access fresh health food outside where people feel safe and comfortable.”

Despite uncertainty last summer caused by the pandemic, the Austin Town Hall Farmers Market thrived, Abunaw said. The market’s popularity reflects the serious need for more local food options, she said, as well as the powerful economic opportunity for businesses eyeing the West Side.

“It was really the vendors from last year … they kind of paved this path to show that vendors could do well in Austin and set up shop here,” Abunaw said.

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