Green City Market Preps for Busy Summer Season
From: RedEye Chicago
BY· Tuesday, April 19, 2011 1:00 p.m.
Nationally recognized by the likes of Time Magazine and Travel + Leisure as one of the country’s best farmer’s markets, Chicago’s Green City Market will move outdoors to the southern end of Lincoln Park starting May 4, with an official grand opening to be held May 7.
Green City Market is a nonprofit organization that looks to connect people who live in Chicago’s urban metropolis with local and small family farms that produce food within 250 miles. This means all the produce and other products come from certified sustainable farms in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan.
The market also includes educational programming for adults and children in its mission, according to the its associate director Mark Psilos, 27.
“We want to improve the availability of local produce to the community at large and connecting the community to the people who grow their food,” he said. “Also to educate them as to why that’s important.”
This begins with a lengthy application process for each farm. Every farmer is required to fill out a 40-page application that’s reviewed by a committee of food professionals, including chefs, farmers, educators and experts within the agriculture industry. After the review, a staff person known as a “farm forager” visits the farm to get a first-hand look at the operation.
“We want to insure that our vendors are of the quality we’re looking for,” Psilos said. “Four years ago we instituted a program where we have every farmer certified by a third party, and we’re one of the first markets in the country to require that.”
Sara Gasbarra, 31, serves as chair of the Sprouts Program for children and co-chair of the Junior Board, which offers programming and opportunities for young professionals.
“People are becoming more connected to their food. It’s becoming this trendy thing,” Gasbarra said. “It’s such an impersonal thing to go to the grocery store, but when you go to a farmer’s market it’s such a different experience. To go buy something and talk to the person who grew it — it’s not a task. So many people come and spend a couple of hours [at the market]. It’s an event.”
According to Gasbarra, each market day features products for children to sample as a way of getting kids to try new, healthy foods. In addition their are cooking demonstrations both for children and adults. As Project Manager of the Edible Garden, Gasbarra is also eager to talk up the 5,000 square-foot organic vegetable garden right in the middle of the Lincoln Park Zoo. The Edible Garden also runs educational programs in the summer.
“Keep in mind, this is all free,” she added.
Psilos and Gasbarra both stressed the importance of targeting a young demographic.
“I think there are young people who are interested but not everyone gets it,” said Gasbarra. “That’s the mission of the Junior Board: to reel in that younger crowd to the market. You go to the bars and don’t realize that the chef of Old Town Social, Jared Van Camp, his menu is seasonal, and he’s a huge supporter of Green City.
“I tell my friends: Just come down and taste a strawberry that’s not from Mexico or California, that’s grown and sold in the month it’s supposed to be.”
Green City Market
Approximately 1790 N. Clark St., or at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive.
7 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays from May 4 to Oct. 29