by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove resident Pat Graceffa has served as market manager of the Sugar Grove Farmer’s Market the last seven years. This year, however, Graceffa is relinquishing her role as lead volunteer of the event because she claims to know someone who can help turn the Farmer’s Market into something bigger and better.
That someone is Leslie Cahill, Midwest manager for Bensidoun USA, Inc., a company specializing in market development and operation.
“We’ve been hearing from a lot of people that they want to see different farmers or different types of things (at the Farmer’s Market),” Graceffa said. “The market has grown every year, and we just thought that maybe (Leslie) could make the market even better for us. We want to give the people what they want.”
Cahill, who has been with Bensidoun the last 13 years, manages a dozen seasonal markets in the area and is currently in talks with the village to take over management of the Farmers Market. According to Graceffa, Cahill was scheduled to meet with Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger and the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce at 11 a.m. on Wednesday to further discuss the possibility of Bensidoun operating the Farmers Market.
“Pending approval, our plans are to work closely with all of the founding (Farmers Market) vendors so that the market maintains continuity going forward-they are truly the heart and soul of the market,” Cahill said. “We will partner with the village, the chamber, local businesses and local nonprofits to deliver a market that serves the entire community.”
The Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce previously sponsored and organized the Farmers Market. According to a document from Eichelberger, the chamber advised the village that it no longer intends to prepare the event, but recommended the village enter into an agreement with Bensidoun.
“The chamber would certainly support the Farmers Market and the community (if Bensidoun is brought in),” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shari Baum said.
Graceffa said Cahill’s presence and experience will bring forth advantages that were previously unavailable to the Farmers Market.
“Leslie works with all the big markets. She can talk to a farmer and tell him, ‘If you want a better place at the Wheaton Market, you have to do the Saturday market in Sugar Grove,’” Graceffa said “She has contacts and people that she can (tell),’Hey, I can do this for you if you do this for me.’ We don’t have that (now). We’re limited because on Saturday, all of the market farmers are usually committed to a market already.”
Cahill expects several of her current vendors to see the Sugar Grove Farmers Market as an opportunity to expand their business. In regards to long-term goals, Cahill believes the Farmers Market will steadily grow to the point where it will actually require a new location.
“It is really early in the game to say too much more than that, but we are very pleased to be moving forward,” she said.