On April 9th and 10th, April Burgett, President and Kim Anderson, Secretary of the Havana Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a group of graduate level students who made the trip to Havana from Chicago and enjoyed two days of tours, learning and making connections in Havana.
Reed Williams, Ishan Maunder, and Michael Lachenmeyer, University of Chicago graduate-level students, in public history practicum were working on a specific project that included gathering information, doing research, conducting interviews and visiting locations in an effort to produce an audio profile of Havana as one of the rural communities in America that will host Spark! Places of Innovation. The Smithsonian Museum on Main Street will spend five weeks in Havana next January and February at the Havana City Center. The theme of the proposed project included science, health, and environment.
The Havana Chamber threw its hat in the ring amongst many other communities that will also host Spark! in this competitive opportunity to work with the students with Havana as the focus of their graduate audio profile project.
"We submitted our application to be selected early last December, and learned in February we had been chosen, and then we began planning for the students to visit. We set up some interviews and tours, and gave them the full downtown walking tour pointing out areas of restoration and revitalization and explaining the story of where we came from and where we are now" said April Burgett, Chamber President. Burgett continued "The premise of our application was based on the highly innovative and ground breaking science that is conducted here in Havana at our two University of Illinois biological field stations, the Illinois River Biological Station and the Forbes Biological Station. It is truly amazing and very significant that our small rural community has not only one, but two highly functioning research stations, and the work they do is not only important for long term data sets but also new ground breaking technology and research in many areas."
The group arrived on Easter Sunday and enjoyed beautiful weather for the downtown portion of their visit and walking tour. On Monday, they toured the Illinois River Biological Station, traveled north up the Illinois River to the Emiquon water control structure by boat and learned about cutting edge Whooshh steeppass fish ladder that will be deployed this year to test innovative new technology used for invasive species management. The group also had an opportunity to learn about other sampling and research being conducted at IRBS and were able to try their hand at electrofishing and hands on fish identification.
Next, the group traveled to the Forbes Biological Station, Frank C. Bellrose Waterfowl Research Center for a tour and were able to interview waterfowl biologist, Andy Gilbert, and get a tour of the Forbes Station. The group recorded the tours for use in the development of the audio profile / podcast project that will pair as marketing materials for the upcoming Spark! Places of Innovation exhibition.
The Farmers Market Has Rebranded and Relocated to Downtown Havana.
A planning committee has been meeting regularly to rebrand and revamp the Havana Farmers Market into the new Havana Street Market. The name is the brainchild of longtime market vendor Cammy Smith and uniquely fits the new location in the lot at 308 W. Main Street in downtown Havana. “I came up with the name after attending street markets in Florida and in the Chicago area. I wanted something new to attract more vendors. When I was approached about getting a committee together to put the idea into action it felt like the ideal time to move forward,” Smith explained.
The use of the lot is being gifted in-kind by property owner Jennifer Larson. Larson, who owns Blue Butterfly Consignment Shop, and 311 1/2 Lodging on Main sees the value of hosting the market in her space. “In addition to bringing fresh local produce and other market items directly to our residents, it will become another destination for visitors. Another reason to check out Havana and all the businesses in our revitalized downtown. It’s a win win and I’m happy to support the Market,” Larson shared.
Committee Chair Kim Anderson believes rebranding and relocating are keys to a successful robust long-term market. "We have been really intentional about how we approach this new concept. From our logo to our social media presence and our operating guidelines, everything has been looked at from a long term perspective. We plan to apply for grants to help with infrastructure, marketing and outreach and having policies and procedures in place is essential when applying for funding,” she explained. “We know it will take time to grow and feel like we are planting the seeds for a really vibrant space downtown that will benefit locals and visitors alike.”
The market is a producer only market meaning each vendor will sell items they themselves have grown, raised, baked or created locally or regionally. “I think that’s a really important aspect because it will increase the availability of fresh items and foster a deeper connection to our food and those who grow it. We’re so used to going to the grocery store and getting most any fruit or vegetable whenever we want it and the reality is fruits and vegetables have unique planting times and maturity rates for our region which determine when they are available here in central Illinois. For example tomatoes take 60 - 100 days to harvest and are typically ready in July in our area. And the taste of a locally grown tomato is beyond compare to something that has been shipped a thousand miles to a grocery store,” Anderson explains.
In addition to vendors, the market hopes to partner with organizations like University of Illinois Extension office to provide information on growing food and native plants, nutrition and food preparation methods.
The Market will be open every Saturday from 8am - 12pm and First Fridays from 5pm - 8pm from May 5th - October 7th, 2023 at 308 W. Main Street in downtown Havana.
Vendor applications are open for local and regional growers, producers and makers of items such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, meat, cheese, plants, flowers, baked goods, and original works of art. For more information or to apply please email: email@example.com
Article By: Kim Anderson
Havana Street Market