New Oregon farmer's market opens near river


OREGON – Location, location, location.

That is the key when it comes to a home or a business. Turns out, it is not a bad thing when it comes to a farmer’s market.

The City of Oregon has launched the new River’s Edge Farmer’s Market on land overlooking the Rock River. The land is behind the Oregon Fire Department, and the city is using it for the market after reaching an inter-governmental agreement with the fire department.

“We wanted a space that was big enough to get all of our vendors in and to be able to space out for community events,” said Melanie Cozzi, City Commissioner.

The market kicked off on a warm evening June 3. It will run every Thursday June through September from 5-7:30 p.m.

This is the first farmer’s market for the City of Oregon. The market was previously run by the Oregon Park District. Cozzi said the pandemic hit the park district hard, and with the uncertainty of the future of the Byron nuclear plant – which is a large funding source for the district – it is decreasing projects.

“We know that’s a really important community event, so we didn’t want to see that go away,” she said.

Liz Hiemstra, manager of the market, said that there will be an area for kids to play, picnic tables, live music and food trucks along with all of the vendors. There are 26 vendors signed up, with 12-17 participating each week.

The vendors – from as far away as St. Charles – will be selling everything from fresh produce, to organic honey, to maple syrup and even meat. One vendor, Oregon’s Hector’s Cocina, will be selling alcohol.

Hiemstra said that the Oregon Park District and a local church have teamed up to provide craft activities for kids as well.

A unique feature of the market will be that it is a compost collection site, thanks to a grant from the Ogle County Solids Waste Management Department.

“We’re trying to be a sustainably-minded market,” Hiemstra said.

With COVID restriction relaxed, masks will not be mandatory. Organizers just ask that people not crowd vendors and use “common-sense” social distancing.

Both said that the Oregon Fire Department has been very helpful in preparing the site, and that excitement for the weekly market has been growing.

“People are talking about it, telling each other,” Hiemstra said. “We’re hearing a lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation.”