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A Guide to the Farmers Markets; And What to Do With Your Haul

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A Guide to the Farmers Markets

The city coordinates the majority of the outdoor farmers markets that run throughout the growing season here, thanks to an initiative started in 1979. But independently run markets, many of which require vendors to practice organic and/or sustainable agriculture, have started springing up--and thriving--in the last few years. The biggest and best of both kinds are listed below; closing dates are tentative in most cases. In addition, the city sponsors weekly and biweekly markets in neighborhoods across town. Organizers shoot for at least five to seven vendors, though anecdotal evidence indicates that they don't always get that many. See cityofchicago.org/specialevents or call 312-744-3370 for locations. --Vera Videnovich

TUESDAYS

Federal Plaza

230 S. Dearborn

7 AM-3 PM

Through 10/25

One of the anchors of the city's market program (along with Daley Plaza), this market draws an average of 30 vendors from the four-state area selling everything from sage to sunflowers, plus local producers selling cheese, bread, and other comestibles.

Prudential Building Plaza

150 E. Lake

7 AM-3 PM

Through 10/18

Smaller than the bustling markets at Daley and Federal plazas, the Prudential market and its Thursday corollary at 311 S. Wacker are still well stocked and convenient for Loop workers.

City Farm

1240 N. Division

Also Thursdays and Saturdays; 3-6 PM

Through 10/29

Looking for extremely locally grown tomatoes? More than 24 varieties are planted at the on-site organic farm, not to mention beets, carrots, potatoes, gourmet lettuces, herbs, and melons. Run by the Resource Center on land near Cabrini-Green, the farm only has a five-year agreement with the city, but organizers are hoping it becomes a permanent part of the urban landscape. The farm also provides organic-farming education and job training to local students; regular customers include chefs from Topolobampo and Frontera Grill, North Pond, and Lula Cafe. For more see resourcecenterchicago.org.

Museum of Contemporary Art plaza

220 E. Chicago

10 AM-6 PM

Through 10/18

This market is open later than the others run by the city; vendors offer a mix of produce and other products.

WEDNESDAYS

Green City Market

1750 N. Clark

Also Saturdays; 7 AM-1:30 PM

Through 10/29

As many as 50 vendors sell fruits, vegetables, herbs, baked goods, dairy products, honey, flowers, and soaps produced in line with this market's strict organic- and sustainable-agriculture standards. Free demos by local chefs and children's educational programs are scheduled throughout the season; there's $3 one-hour parking at the Stockton Drive lot with validation. In November and December the market will move into the lion house at the Lincoln Park Zoo. See chicagogreencitymarket.org for more.

THURSDAYS

City Farm

See listing under Tuesdays.

Daley Center Plaza

100 N. Dearborn

7 AM-3 PM

Through 9/29, except 7/28, 9/1, 9/15

See Federal Plaza listing under Tuesday.

Ina's Restaurant

1235 W. Randolph

4-7 PM

Through 10/27

This rare afternoon market in the parking lot west of Ina's moves to Thursdays this week (and for the rest of the summer) to allow vendors to set up shop after things wind down at the Daley Center. Ina's also features some market products on its menu; call 312-226-8227 or see breakfastqueen.com.

The Park at Jackson & Wacker

311 S. Wacker

7 AM-3 PM

Through 10/20

See Prudential Building Plaza listing under Tuesdays.

SATURDAYS

City Farm

9 AM-1 PM

See listings under Tuesdays.

Garfield Market Place Farmers Market

300 N. Central Park

9 AM-1 PM

Through 10/29

Growing Power, an urban farm-training program, sells seasonal fruits and vegetables, including some grown in a Grant Park garden, at this market in the former stables just north of the Garfield Park Conservatory. Weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes of produce are also available for Saturday pickup at prices ranging from $8 to $38. The converted horse stalls give the market a European feel; in addition to the farmers market, there are boutiques selling scented bath salts, Chinese orchids, and jewelry, and the new CityEscape garden center is open daily. See growingpower.org and garfieldconservatory.org for more.

Green City Market

7 AM-1:30 PM

See listing under Wednesdays.

Homegrown Chicago

2625 W. Division

9 AM-1 PM

Through 10/8

Homegrown Chicago encourages the development of organic community gardens in underused urban spaces in Humboldt Park and other west-side neighborhoods. Its market features produce from local gardens plus occassional crafts, music, and other cultural programming. See openlands.org.

Nettlehorst French Market

3252 N. Broadway

AM-2 PM

Through 10/28

This market on the Nettlehorst School playground offers farm-fresh produce, bread, cheese, pickles, and plants, plus jewelry, pottery, and other crafts.

Oak Park Farmers Market

Pilgrim Church parking lot

460 Lake, Oak Park

7 AM-1 PM

Through 10/29

Ever since the 1986 "cauliflower caper," in which a producer was banned for selling produce he hadn't grown himself, the Oak Park Market Commission has kept a tight rein on producers. About 25 vendors sell sustainably grown fruits and vegetables, honey, flowers, plants, cheese, and meat products. Local nonprofit organizations make and sell fresh cake donuts and coffee, and there's live bluegrass every week. Free parking is available at Scoville Neighborhood garage; see oak-park.us/farmersmarket/index.html.

Evanston Farmers Market

University and Oak

7:30 AM-1 PM

Through 11/5

This 30-year-old market regularly draws about 37 vendors, mostly offering organic and sustainably farmed goods. The September 17 market will include info booths for more than 35 Evanston-based nonprofit organizations. There's free parking with validation until 1 PM at the Maple Avenue garage.

SUNDAYs

The Market at Lakeshore East

220 North Park Drive

AM-1 PM

Through 10/30

This market moved last weekend from its original Elston Avenue location to the park at Lakeshore East, the $4 billion mixed-use development currently under construction between Randolph and Wacker at Lake Shore Drive. In addition to produce, bread, cheese, and the like, the market focuses on fresh-cut flowers, offering arranging tips courtesy of the floral design firm Botanicals.

And What to Do With Your Haul

At the July 5 farmers market at the MCA plaza, one shopper after another wandered up to the Nichols Farm stand and asked, plaintively, "Where are the tomatoes?" It was still too early in the season for local field-grown varieties--but if you head back to the markets in the next few weeks you'll be in luck. The best-tasting toms will start coming in late July and should keep coming until the first October frost. Also abundant right now are blueberries, Red Haven peaches, green beans, bicolor sweet corn, beets, bell peppers, and zucchini. We've collected some timely recipes using seasonal produce from local chefs. --VV

Farmers Market Gazpacho

Erwin Dreschler, Erwin

Serves twelve

1 jalapeno pepper

1 1/2 lbs tomatoes

2 cucumbers

3 stalks celery

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 yellow pepper

1 medium onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 bunch cilantro

Tabasco to taste

1 qt tomato juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

Peel and seed the tomatoes and cucumbers, seed the jalapenos, and cut all the vegetables into chunks. Mix with remaining ingredients and then process in batches in the work bowl of a food processor, or in any large bowl with a handheld blender, until coarse. Serve chilled with a dollop of sour cream and chopped cilantro.

Lamb With Potatoes and Spinach

John Bubala, Thyme

Serves six

5 lbs deboned leg of lamb marinated in 3 tbs chopped garlic

2 tbs chopped rosemary

2 tbs chopped thyme

2 tbs olive oil

24 potatoes, cooked with the skin on, then peeled and crumbled

1 cippolini onion, diced

1 lb spinach, washed and dried

3 tbs Wisconsin cheddar or bleu cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbs unsalted butter

1 tbs crushed garlic

1 bunch golden purslane

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Grill or roast until the internal temperature hits 135 degrees. Set aside.

Saute onion, potato, spinach, and garlic in butter until spinach is soft and wilted. Season to taste and remove from heat. Add cheese. Mixture will be semidry.

When cool, shape potato mixture into small, firm discs the size of silver dollar pancakes. Reheat in oven when ready to serve.

Slice the lamb over the potato-cheese cakes. Garnish with purslane.

Sweet Summer Squash Cake

Jason Hammel and Lea Tshilds, Lula Cafe

Makes one cake

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp ground clove

1 tbs ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/4 cups grated zucchini (pat dry)

Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside. Mix the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and oil. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, then fold in the zucchini.

Spray a springform pan with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake's center comes out dry.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Jim Newberry.

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