There's nothing like spending a leisurely Sunday at the Joliet mall shopping for homegrown tomatoes, organic sweet corn and homemade pies.
Or so officials at the Senior Service Center of Will County hope as they debut the Will County Farmers Market this Sunday, hoping to lure shoppers headed to Westfield Louis Joliet Mall and other nearby shopping destinations. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday in the parking lot near Macy's.
And if you just can't get enough fresh produce, the Downtown Joliet Farmers Market returns for another season on June 8. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday on Van Buren Plaza and on Chicago Street, between Van Buren and Jefferson streets.
Paul Ward, assistant activities director for the Senior Services Center, said the agency had been looking for an innovative way to raise funds for its social service programs when they came upon the idea. The mall has partnered with them, providing both the location and the electricity.
Because they'll have no water, Waste Management has agreed to provide a wash station, Ward said. The mall will put up signage directing people to the market location, he said.
While they have 10 vendors -- a mix of produce and crafts -- for the first date, Ward said they're hoping for more as word of mouth gets out about the market.
"The sky's the limit really," he said. "I'm assuming the mall can give us a good amount of space if we need it."
He also said that once they have more of a proven track record, it should be easier to lure new vendors. Also working in their favor is the fact that the only other nearby town to have a Sunday farmers market is Frankfort, he said.
The downtown market, sponsored by the City Center Partnership, has benefitted from longevity, and now has a full slate of vendors.
Among the items being sold are fresh fruits and vegetables, corn on the cob, fresh-cut flowers and plants, jewelry, breads, cupcakes, cookies, pies, cinnamon-roasted nuts, salsa, hummus, olives, pizza and smoked sausage.
Non-food vendors include Avon, Pampered Chef, Tupperware and people selling specialty items such as candles, purses, children's clothing and accessories.
The downtown market is held every Friday through Sept. 28; the only date it will not be held is Sept. 14 because of a conflict with another downtown event.
The Senior Services market runs through Sept. 16.