Posted Mar 14, 2022
By Maia Mcdonald, Block Club Chicago
LINCOLN PARK — One of the city’s most popular farmers markets is trying to open earlier than usual this year.
Green City Market typically begins its outdoor seasons in Lincoln Park and West Loop in May. But the Lincoln Park market got city approval to start selling in April, about a month ahead of schedule, Executive Director Mandy Moody said. The West Loop location is scheduled to relaunch outdoors May 7.
Organizers said they need extra financial support from shoppers to make the early launch a reality. They hope at least 50 people will become Green City Market Growers, committing to make monthly donations of $16 or more. That could fund Green City Market days through the rest of the year and support tents, restrooms, storage, staffing and other operating costs, Moody said.
Donations can be made online.
Green City offers fruits, vegetables, baked goods, meats, jams and preserves, along with other sustainably sourced products from 57 vendors in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. It also sells online through delivery services through the winter.
“The sheer costs associated with operating a farmers market here in the city, I don’t know that a lot of folks really understand all of the intricacies of planning a market and producing a market year-round,” Moody said. “It’s a lot, so just making sure that we have financial support from the community to put it on is so critical.”
The first 50 people to donate by March 31 will have their first year of donations matched by the Green City Market Associate Board, Moody said.
“We think it’s really important to make sure that our market is accessible and affordable to farmers,” Moody said. “We rely on charitable donations, corporate sponsorship, individual gifts from community members to make up that gap of what we charge farmers and then what it actually costs to operate the market.”
Longtime sellers like Nichols Farm & Orchard, Mick Klug Farm and Star Farm Chicago will return to in-person selling for the market’s 23rd season, something Moody thinks is important to the longevity of local farms and small businesses.
Farmers Chris and Lisa Zastrow of Wholesome Harvest Farm, a Green City Market vendor from Wisconsin, said markets are key for businesses like theirs.
“Many of us as farmers have things growing and ready for market at this time of the year, and this gives us a great opportunity to expand upon those offerings,” the Zastrows said. “We’re also excited to be able to connect with all of our customers for several extra weeks a season.”
Moody said she is confident Green City Market can raise the money needed to open in early April. For now, market staff are preparing for the extra operating days by securing supplies and equipment, hiring seasonal staff and providing farmers with training and certifications for selling.
Moody said she hopes people see the value in supporting sustainably sourced food, whether or not people choose to donate to Green City Market.
“We know there’s so many different causes that people are passionate about, and we’ve also seen directly the impact that the world can have on our access to food,” Moody said. “It’s really important for folks to get involved and learn more about how supporting Green City Market can help ensure the future of food, and help ensure that folks have access to this really wonderfully produced food. It’s good for our own bodies, but it’s also good for the planet.”