By Ashlee Rezin, for RedEye
10:11 AM CDT, May 7, 2012
Hundreds of Chicagoans and restaurateurs supported local Midwest farmers and shopped for sustainable, organic produce and products at the opening day of Lincoln Park's Green City Market May 5.
Although it was a bit rainy and cool, market visitors enjoyed a performance from a local band, Nobody Nobody Sent, homemade crepes from Abby's Crepes and apple cider doughnuts from Zullo's to munch while they shopped. There was also a cooking demo featuring "Top Chef: Texas" runner-up Sarah Grueneberg. Even Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), who purchased a Community Supported Agriculture share from one of Green City's farmers last year, stopped by to greet patrons.
"Green City helps us to provide both to the consumer and to the restaurant business, so it's beneficial for our farm on both fronts," said Angie Westerhoff, a farmer with family-owned Genesis Growers in St. Anne, Illinois. With a staff of only four, Westerhoff and her family depend on markets like Green City to boost their business.
"The chefs are very happy to have us back, we've seen quite a few this morning that we haven't seen all winter," Westerhoff, who has been participating in Green City for eight years, said. "It's great, we and the other farmers provide things you wouldn't normally be able to get in a grocery store, like gold beets."
In it's twelfth season, Green City Market, which brings more than 50 vendors to Lincoln Park twice a week and has more than 300 volunteers, is promoting a new child-centric program, Club Sprouts, intended to get kids learning about (and tasting) locally grown sustainable food.
"Green City gives us an outlet, where we can market our product directly to the consumer, who can tell you right out if they like it or don't like it, which is pretty invaluable information," said John Sundgroth, fourth generation farmer and owner of century-old Heartland Meats in Mendota, Illinois.
New to the market this year on Wednesdays is an early bird special of $5 for parking from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. geared towards workers who stop by the market to shop before work.
"We're just trying to bring a source of good healthy food and locally sourced sustainable products to the community, while teaching people how to cook with the food they buy here," said Erin Riley-Strong, communications coordinator for Green City Market.
Green City Market runs Wednesdays and Saturdays through Oct. 31 at 1790 North Clark Street. For a full calendar or more information, click here.
See photos from opening day here.
Ashlee Rezin is a RedEye special contributor
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