Green City Market
Clark and Menomonee (May-Oct), Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 Cannon Drive (Nov-Apr)
Submitted by: Arthur Howe
Sustainable and organic farmers' market URLS: www.chicagogreencitymarket.org
Chef Alice Waters calls the Green City Market "the best sustainable market in the country." 2008 marks the 10th season for Chicago's only sustainable farmers' market. A venue that attracts thousands of shoppers, Green City Market features over 45 sustainable or certified organic farmers, cooking demonstrations by leading local chefs, and a "Sprouts" educational program for kids. Green City Market formed a partnership with the Lincoln Park Zoo to plant an Edible Garden in the Zoo's Farm-in-the Zoo sponsored by John Deere. Its inviting ambiance has created a sense of community whose influence extends well beyond its broad base of conscientious and caring consumers, chefs, and restaurateurs to nurture a broader network of sustainable and organic farmers who supply fresh, high-quality, locally produced food to the greater Chicago area.
What Makes Green City Market a Great Place?
Green City Market has become an integral part of Lincoln Park. It is an open-air market filled with people walking among the many tents of participating farmers and producers. It is readily accessible on foot, close to public transportation and has convenient parking. There is a paved sidewalk, but people generally walk among the stalls on straw-thatched paths across the grass.
The open-air market is inviting, filled with live music, parents playing with their kids, people watching cooking demonstrations, and, of course, shoppers browsing the tents of the farmers and producers. The place is clean and safe with abundant seating on benches, chairs and the grass. Baby strollers and dogs dominate the space, rather than cars. Many users visit carrying their rollerblades, walking alongside their bikes, or cooling off after finishing their run along the lakefront.
People flock to the Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Activities include shopping, cooking demos, music, educational events, and occasional talks and book signings. There are roughly as many men as there are women. Visitors range all the way from infants in baby strollers to seniors with canes. Most are single shoppers, couples or families with children.
Green City Market is a happy place. Visitors regularly run into friends, neighbors and colleagues; in fact, that's one of the Market's attractions. It definitely is a place that a knowledgeable local would proudly show off to a visiting guest, but locals far outnumber tourists.
History & Background
In 1998, the lack of fresh, locally farmed foods in Chicago spurred local chef, cookbook author and columnist Abby Mandel to create the Green City Market, the city's only sustainable, certified organic farmers' market. Abby Mandel passed away this August. Recognizing the Green City Market as a Great Public Space would be a fitting way to remember her contribution to the city. The market that Abby created is not merely a Great Public Space in the venue at which it takes place. Working in a public-private initiative with the Mayor's Office of Special Events, the Market hired a "farm forager" to find sustainable producers across Illinois and surrounding states. By supporting small, regional family farmers who practice sustainable farming techniques, the Market helps the surrounding environment by ensuring that area streams are not filled with polluted run-off, soil is not eroded by large-scale monoculture crops, delicate ecosystems are not irreparably damaged, and the biodiversity of plant and animal species is maintained.
Green City Market office, 2732 N. Clark, Suite 301, Chicago, IL 60614, Phone: 773.880.1266