Photo by Jason Brown/Staff Photographer
Irmgard Reile of Chicago purchases green beans from Nichols Farm & Orchard, one of the
purveyors at the weekly farmers market at Eli’s Cheesecake World.

Farmer’s Market offers more than fruit,

All of the traditional items customers might expect to find at a farmer’s market are present and accounted for at the Eli’s/Wright College markets on Thursdays at Eli’s Cheesecake World, 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive, in Chicago.

Nichols Farm and Orchard, in Marengo, where the motto is “Variety is our specialty,” brings dozens of kinds of potatoes, peppers, corn, lettuce, beets, kale, Swiss chard, peas, broccoli, rhubarb, strawberries, flowers, herbs and more to the weekly event.Owner Peter Klein travels to the market from his 81-acre farm near South Haven, Mich., each week with his wares.

“This week, we have peaches, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, salsa, apple butter and pear butter,” he said. “By the end of the season, we’ll have a lot of different things to sell.
We’re principally a tree-fruit operation, with more than 6,000 trees and over 75 varieties.”

But this summer, shoppers will find a lot more than fruit and vegetables at the Eli’s/Wright College markets.

Mickey Jurgensen and Ralph Perri, owners of Woofs and Whiskers, brought a large variety of their company’s pet products to the market. For $3.75, customers could buy Kitty Kaviar; for $3.50, Kitty Kisses. They also had toys, collars, leashes, food products, bones and non-allergic grooming supplies for dogs and cats.

Nearby, representatives of Ten Thousand Villages, a nonprofit program of the North American Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches, which markets products made by artisans in 32 nations, showcased their wares. Their mission statement says, in part: “Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. This income helps pay for food, education, health care or housing.”

On July 13, Ten Thousand Villages brought jewelry, puzzles, coffees, teas, bean soup mixes, marinades, salsa mixes, baskets, tableware, candles, candleholders, cookbooks and chutney to the market.

Borders had some light reading materials for sale, including children’s books and puzzle books for all ages.

Delightful Pastries, 5927 W. Lawrence Ave., in Chicago, had a wide variety of the bakery’s all-natural products to sell, such as breads, cakes, sweet rolls, croissants, strudels and cookies.

Employees of Stivers Coffee, 2215 S. Union St., in Chicago, offered customers samples of their coffees — frozen in cubes, which melted into iced coffee as they shopped. The firm custom-roasts and flavors exotic coffees from South and Central America, Africa, Indonesia, Hawaii and Jamaica. Their flavored coffees include Southern Pecan, Banana Chip,
Egg Nog, Raspberry n’Creme and Peanut Butter Truffle.

“We have decafs and teas, too,” they said.

Fred Spritzer, formerly of Chicago’s Jefferson Park community, presided over Eli’s grills. Each market features freshly prepared luncheon choices for shoppers. On July 13, Spritzer offered barbecued pulled pork sandwiches on potato buns for $5 and pastrami with honey mustard on marble rye for $6. Both sandwiches included the trimmings. Shoppers enjoyed their lunches under the canopies set up to the east of Eli’s, while they watched a flower arranging demonstration by Robert Neri, an instructor at Wright College.

“When he’s through, we’ll give away the arrangements,” said Eli’s Mary Gale.

Each week, the Eli’s/Wright College farmers markets will feature special activities and entertainment for shoppers. For further information, call (773) 736-3417 or see