Upon entering the Green City Market in Lincoln Park, located at 1750 N. Clark, the smell, and color of organic products catches the eye. The redness of the tomatoes, the long green stems of fresh onions and asparagus, and the smell of fresh flowers is what makes the market an enjoyable experience.
The market is now in its 18th year of providing farm grown vegetables and produce to shoppers with over 50 vendors selling goods from sauces to spices. Shopper Fred Banyon said that he’s been going to the market for three years because it reminds him of being on the farm in Mississippi.
“I used to farm for ten years with my brothers so this reminds me of that. I come here I get vegetables, meats and cheeses, everything tastes good here. You can taste the natural difference,” Banyon said.
He mentions that it is more than just coming and buying items, but it is also a place where people go to interact with others who enjoy farmer’s markets.
The mission of the market is to increase the availability of high-quality food by connecting the public with restaurateurs and food organizations.This is to help promote and educate shoppers about the appreciation of sustainable foods.
Besides going to the market to sell their products, vendors also go to support each other. Bradley Kirouac, Chicago manager of Burton’s Maplewood Farm, said that he’s worked the market for eight years selling pure syrup aged in rum barrels. looks forward to getting a slice of pizza from Nomad Pizza.
“They actually provided the entree for my wedding. We didn’t have traditional food they were the ones who catered my wedding, but there are other restaurants who are here that I’m excited for, but here people know what they’re getting,” Kirouac said.
The market didn’t just want to sell fresh products, but teach the importance of eating healthy. The market also had activities for kids to teach them about healthy eating. They did things including making bread, arts and crafts, and a scavenger hunt where they had to go throughout the market and identify different foods.
“We do activities with club sprouts for two weeks in the summer. Here each kid gets a punch card and they get a punch for each food they try, and at the end they get a prize,” said Phillippa Cannon, publisher for Forty Shades of Flavor.
Many vendors in the market have been there for over ten years, but Oak Park resident Becky Stark is there selling free range eggs for her first year at Green City. She said that the market is good for the community because it also serves as a bonding environment.
“It’s a good place for people to come and network with other farmers. It is a good concept plus I got my tofu here and I got some fresh flowers for my mother for mother’s’ day,” Stark said.
The Green City Market was founded in 1998 by Abby Mandel, who was known as the Martha Stewart of the midwest, in an alley next to the Chicago Theater with a handful of farmers. With her vision and determination, she made the market an important part of Chicago’s culture. Mandel passed away in 2008 after a yearlong battle with mantle cell lymphoma. Her legacy continues to inspire vendors to spread her legacy.
The outdoor Green City Market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7am to 1pm starting from May 7 through October 29. After October, the indoor market located at 2430 N. Cannon Drive, will be open from November through April.