Northbrook Farmer’s Market declares tie for creative zuchini creations

NORTHBROOK — The Northbrook Farmers Market is one for surprises, be it a newcomer veggie to vendor tables or a what’s-in-season summer stunner of a fruit.

But while some guesswork is gone since regulars know to find the market now at Meadow and Cherry Lanes, there’s always another first, even after two relocations in recent years from two Northbrook church parking lots.

How about this big reveal from Zucchini Day on Aug. 13?

“Never in the history of the Zucchini Day contest has this ever happened!” said Dale Duda, Northbrook Farmers Market manager.

“Never mind that it’s only our second year (of the contest),” she conceded.

“We have a tie!”

Yes folks, you heard that right. Two of the six decorated zucchini entries were winners. That’s one third of the competition.

The Northbrook Farmers Market welcomed participation by non-profit service organizations interested in entering decorated zucchinis to celebrate Zucchini Day.

“We review the applications and choose six based on appropriateness and first-come basis,” Duda said. “We exclude those who participated the previous year in order to give opportunity to other new groups.”

Any helpful theme was fair game but you had to use a zucchini.

Market visitors could vote on their favorite by purchasing tickets for 50 cents each. Tickets went into a can next to each zucchini entry.

Northbrook Community Nursery School and Creatively Caring shared the blue ribbon for their zucchini creations.

One could vote on a Disney “Frozen” movie-themed landscape by Creatively Caring, featuring a snowman made of mushrooms.

Clearbrook, which serves individuals with disabilities, depicted a zumba exercise class in a shadow box.

The North Shore Senior Center’s creation offered full sun-illuminated food samples on toothpicks.

The Hunger Resource Network (HRN) skinned a zucchini, putting it in a pan with an apple and carrots to depict a cooked chicken. HRN Community Outreach Day this Nov. 15 will recognize the network’s distribution of more than 1 million pounds of chicken, serving area food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.

Growing Healthy People Now, which aims to grow healthy people by working with veterans in local food production, interpreted a garden system via its entry.

The Northbrook Community Nursery School (NCNS), a nonprofit nondenominational preschool, made a kiddie zucchini train with parent and child direction.

“We were pretty excited about it,” said Janelle Duthie, nursery school board member who reached out to school families to create the popular entry.

Gail Nemoy of Buffalo Grove, also school director, “grew the huge zucchini that was the key component in Northbrook Community Nursery School’s contest entry,” Duthie said.

“We were thrilled to have homegrown ingredients to craft the NCNS choo choo train logo,” added Duthie, proudly.

Participating organizations with the most votes could win a $250 cash donation, made possible by the Zucchini Day sponsorship of Matthew Hein’s Hoffman Estates-based Liberty Mutual Insurance.

The several hundred dollars collected from ticket sales benefited all six participants too.

“It’s a win, win,” Duda said, of philanthropy collected for the six contestants.

“We thought about splitting the prize money but instead we are giving both organizations (a) $250 cash prize in addition to the amount in their collection cans,” she said.

Meanwhile, plenty of veggie eaters were on standby, near the zucchini contest displays.

“She likes them (zucchini) grilled with a little olive oil,” said Teddy Cohen of Northbrook, whose daughter Lindsay, 10, a Westmoor School fifth-grader, said she was a zucchini fan.

Lindsay’s father was pleased the Zucchini Day competition was a conversation starter about positive food choices.

“I think my take-away message is that there’s always more to know and more to learn, it’s very interesting,” Cohen said.

Besides education about healthy living, the contest was meant to make people smile.

“We are helping to raise money for good causes and have fun while we do it,” Duda said.

The Northbrook Farmers Market is open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 8 in the parking lot of Meadow Plaza, Cherry and Meadow Lanes.

Visit www.NorthbrookFarmersMarket.org, http://hungerresourcenetwork.org/web/, http://www.ncnskids.org/, www.clearbrook.org/, http://growinghealthypeoplenow.org, http://www.creativelycaring.org and https://www.nssc.org.

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