July 9th, 2024

Fostering Community: The Development of Baldwin’s “Pure Markette”

Lake County's new farmers and makers market will support entrepreneurs and cultivate a more engaged community.

Lake County

Residents of the Village of Baldwin and their Lake County neighbors came together last summer to create a vision for what they wanted their downtown to look and feel like in the future. Community members overwhelmingly voiced their desire for outdoor gathering space, more opportunities to support local entrepreneurs, and better access to fresh food. Based on this input, the Baldwin Downtown Development Authority agreed to support a volunteer-led effort to launch a farmers and makers market, soon to be known as Baldwin’s Pure Markette (after a community-wide naming contest). 

The market, which runs weekly on Wednesdays from 3-7 PM during the summer months, allows local farmers and vendors to sell their goods and engage with the community. This mitigates the challenges presented by the county’s lack of access to fresh food while simultaneously fostering economic growth within the region. By driving traffic to existing downtown businesses, the market provides entrepreneurs and small businesses with the opportunity to fill commercial vacancies and make a name for themselves in Lake County.

As a member of the Place Team at The Right Place and Executive Director of Lake County Economic Development Alliance, Jodi Nichols was instrumental in ensuring the community’s vision became a reality as Baldwin’s Pure Markette was developed. She was involved in the visioning process for Baldwin’s downtown area and ensured that the community was engaged throughout the placemaking project. Jodi also continues to provide input and support to Pure Markette’s volunteer manager, Meredith Gremel on vendor and volunteer recruiting, marketing, merchandising, and fundraising. 

“Launching a community project of this size and complexity in a few short months is an incredible undertaking,” shared Nichols. “It has been an honor to support Meredith in her efforts to bring this new gathering space and entrepreneurial hub to Baldwin and to engage so many members of the community to follow her lead and give their time and energy to this project.”

Although Pure Markette is a recent addition to the Village of Baldwin, the market has already made significant strides in supporting local businesses and increasing access to fresh and affordable food this summer. But what really makes Pure Markette unique is how it brings together local nonprofits and clubs to provide programming each week in its Community Circle.

According to Gremel, “The goal of Pure Markette is to bring people together to explore, connect and thrive. It has been most rewarding to see kids participating in our Power of Produce program, where they learn by exploring the market and then earn tokens to buy fresh produce from vendors. Market visitors of all ages are learning about the great outdoors, food preservation, summer health tips and other topics while trying new foods and enjoying live music.”

This revitalization effort, which transforms an empty parking lot into an outdoor marketplace each week, is a prime example of how engaging citizens to create a needed sense of place can take a community one step closer to its long-term goals of being a strong and vibrant place to live, work and play.