As interest in local, seasonal eating keeps growing, so does the number of farmers' markets for city dwellers. The big, city-run markets at Federal Plaza and Daley Plaza open this week, as does the independent Green City Market in Lincoln Park, and others follow in the coming month.
Here's an incomplete list of what you can generally expect to find when:
May Leafy greens, green onions, radishes
June Asparagus, peas, rhubarb, strawberries
July Blueberries, cucumbers, raspberries, summer squash, snap beans
August Blackberries, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes
September Apples, beets, carrots, melons, potatoes
October Cabbage, leafy greens, winter squash
Many markets have other specialties; read on for details. --Vera Videnovich
Farmstand at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences | 3857 W. 111th | 10 AM-5 PM | 7/12-10/1
aThe city's only permanent working 35-acre farm features student-grown produce, including sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and cucumbers.
City Farm | 1204 N. Clybourn | 3-7 PM | 6/5-10/31
aUsing recycled materials and land leased from the city, the organic farmers at this urban training project (including four student interns from nearby Cabrini-Green) sell only what they grow on-site. Offerings include more than 20 varieties of heirloom, paste, roasting, cherry, and red slicing tomatoes. For more see resourcecenterchicago.org.
Federal Plaza | 230 S. Dearborn | 7 AM-3 PM | 5/15-10/30
aAn anchor of the city's 28-year-old program (along with Daley Plaza), this market draws vendors from the four-state area selling produce, flowers, honey, cheese, bread and baked goods, and plants.
Lincoln Square | city parking lot, Western, Leland & Lincoln | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/12-10/30
Museum of Contemporary Art plaza | 220 E. Chicago | 10 AM-6 PM | 6/12-10/30
aThis market has longer hours than many others run by the city; vendors offer a mix of produce and other products.
Prudential Building Plaza | 150 E. Lake | 7 AM-3 PM | 6/5-10/23
aSmaller than the bustling markets at Federal and Daley plazas, the Prudential market and its Thursday counterpart at 311 S. Wacker are still well stocked and convenient for Loop workers.
South Chicago | Chief Nomo's Oasis | 83rd & Marquette | 9 AM-2 PM | 7/10-10/23
Chatham | Seaway National Bank parking lot | 87th & Langley | 9 AM-2 PM | 7/25-10/17
Gately/Pullman | Arcade Park | 111th & Cottage Grove | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/13-10/31
Green City Market | Lincoln Park | 1750 N. Clark | 7 AM-1:30 PM | 5/16-10/31 (no market 7/4)
aThis bustling nonprofit market in Lincoln Park promotes organic and sustainable products. Up to 50 regional vendors sell fruits, vegetables, herbs, baked goods, dairy products, meats, honey, flowers, and soaps. There's also live music and fresh crepes made with market produce. Local chefs give free demos at 10:30 AM; opening day it's George Bumbaris and Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass Cafe. One-hour parking is available for $4 with validation and $5 purchase. In November and December the market moves indoors to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Tours, benefits, and educational programs for adults and kids are scheduled throughout the season. See chicagogreencitymarket.org for more.
Lawndale | Community Bank of Lawndale parking lot | Grenshaw & Homan | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/13-10/17
South Shore | South Shore Bank parking lot | 70th & Jeffrey | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/13-10/24
City Farm | 3-7 PM | 6/5-10/31
aSee listing under Tuesday.
Daley Center Plaza | 100 N. Dearborn
7 AM-3 PM | 5/17-10/4 aSee Federal Plaza listing under Tuesday.
Dunning | Eli's Cheesecake Company parking lot | Montrose & Forest Preserve Ave. | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/14-10/18
Hyde Park | Harper Court | Harper & 52nd Pl. | 7 AM-2 PM | 7/7-10/25
The Park at Jackson & Wacker | 311 S. Wacker | 7 AM-3 PM | 6/14-10/18 aSee Prudential Building Plaza listing under Tuesday.
Uptown | Truman College | 1145 W. Wilson | 8 AM-3 PM | 6/14-10/25
Austin | Emmet Math, Science & Technology Academy parking lot | Madison & Central | 7 AM-2 PM | 7/7-10/27
Bronzeville | Dunbar Vocational Career Academy parking lot | 29th & Martin Luther King Dr. | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/9-10/20
City Farm | 10 AM-1 PM | 6/5-10/31
See listing under Tuesday.
Edgewater | Broadway Armory parking lot | Thorndale & Broadway | 7 AM-noon | 6/9-10/20
Evanston Farmers' Market | University & Oak, Evanston | 7:30 AM-1 PM | 5/19-11/3
aThis well-established market draws more than 30 vendors offering organic and sustainably grown goods including meat and cheese as well as produce. At least one refreshment booth each week is manned by an Evanston-based nonprofit, and the September 15 market will feature about 40 nonprofits offering information on their services. There's free parking with validation until 1 PM at the Maple Avenue garage. See cityofevanston.org/enjoy/market.shtml for more.
Garfield Market Place Farmers Market | 300 N. Central Park | 9 AM-5 PM | 5/19-10/27
aThe vegetable stand at this European-style market housed in converted stables just north of the Garfield Park Conservatory is being run this year by God's Gang, a nonprofit that has teens teaching other kids urban agriculture, landscaping, and African dance and arts. Seasonal organic vegetables--as well as coffee, shea butter, worms, and worm castings--will be for sale; other market vendors sell prepared food, clothing, jewelry, and other arts and crafts. See godsgang1.net for more.
Green City Market | 7 AM-1:30 PM | 5/16-10/31 aSee listing under Wednesday.
Conuco Farmers' Market on Paseo Boricua | 2626 W. Division | 9 AM-2 PM | 6/16-10/27
aProduce market cosponsored by Growing Power and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.
Lincoln Park | Lincoln Park High School parking lot | Armitage & Orchard | 7 AM-2 PM | 5/19-10/27
Morgan Park | Shiloah M.B. Church parking lot | 92nd & Ashland | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/9-10/27
Near North | Division & Dearborn | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/2-10/27
Nettelhorst French Market | Nettelhorst School playground | 3252 N. Broadway | 8 AM-2 PM | Through 11/3
aThis "French-style" market offers fruits and vegetables, fresh-cut flowers, jams and preserves, baked goods, and crafts.
North Center | Belle Plaine, Damen & Lincoln | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/16-10/20
Oak Park Farmers Market | Pilgrim Church parking lot | 460 Lake, Oak Park | 7 AM-1 PM | 6/2-10/27
aThis 33-year-old market has about 30 vendors selling fruits and vegetables, honey, vinegar, flowers, plants, cheese, and meat. Local nonprofit organizations make and sell baked goods, doughnuts, and coffee, and there's live music every week. July 14 there are balloons and clowns for the kids; August 18 is the market's annual corn roast. Parking's free at Scoville Neighborhood garage; see www.oak-park.us/farmersmarket for more.
Printer's Row | Dearborn & Polk | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/16-10/20
Southport Green Market | Blaine School | 1420 W. Grace | 8 AM-1 PM | 6/9, 7/14, 8/11, 9/8, and 10/13
aThis new monthly market is sponsored by the Southport Neighbors Association. In addition to locally grown vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy there will also be bread, honey, organic baby food, and natural dog food. See southportneighbors.com for more.
Ashburn | 87th & Kedzie | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/10-10/21
Beverly | 95th & Longwood | 7 AM-2 PM | 6/10-10/21
Garfield Market Place Farmers Market | 300 N. Central Park | 9 AM-5 PM | 5/19-10/27 aSee listing under Saturday.
Logan Square Farmers Market | Logan Boulevard and Milwaukee | 10 AM-3 PM | 6/3-10/28
aThis weekly market, newly independent from the city, will be temporarily located at the southeast corner of Logan and Milwaukee; plans for 2008 include a permanent plaza space near the Blue Line station. Local farmers and sustainable food producers offer vegetables, flowers, honey, baked goods, canned goods, meat, and soap, and Lula Cafe is set to sell barbecued chicken and fresh fruit pies. For more see logansquarefarmersmarket.org or call 773-489-3222.
Wicker Park/Bucktown | Wicker Park | Damen & Wicker Park Ave. | 7 AM-2 PM 6/3-10/21
The Chef Suggests
Once you've lugged your bounty home, what will you do with it? Paul Virant, the executive chef at Vie in Western Springs, has made a name for himself as a committed champion of local farms and seasonal produce, and last month he was named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs of 2007. Not only does he know how to make the most of any given week's harvest, he knows how to make it last: his menus showcase homemade pickles and preserves. We asked him for some suggestions. --Martha Bayne
1 c water
c champagne vinegar
1 tbs salt
tsp each, cracked: peppercorns, fennel seed, coriander, mustard seed, chili flakes
2 medium fennel bulbs, thinly shaved
Place the shaved fennel in a nonreactive container (ceramic, glass, or stainless steel). Bring remaining ingredients to a boil and pour them over the fennel to cover. Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate overnight. The pickles should keep for six months, as long as you retrieve them with clean utensils (or hands).
Local Morel Mushrooms With Herb Mayonnaise
1 egg plus 1 yolk
1 anchovy fillet
juice of lemon
1 c grape seed oil
c chopped blend of chervil, tarragon, chives, and parsley
salt and pepper
Combine eggs, anchovy, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor; blend till smooth. With motor running pour in oil slowly till emulsified. Fold in herbs, season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Refrigerate.
10 oz fresh, cleaned morels
panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
salt and pepper
Combine eggs, half-and-half, and water; mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut morels in half lengthwise if large; dip into egg mixture, then into bread crumbs. Heat clarified butter in a frying pan. Fry morels in small batches, season with salt and pepper, and serve warm with the mayonnaise.
Asparagus Salad With Shallot Vinaigrette and Fresh Dill
1 lbs asparagus, washed and trimmed
c minced shallots
1/3 c champagne vinegar
1 tbs honey
3 oz olive oil
3 oz grape seed oil
salt and pepper
c fresh dill
1 oz blue cheese
Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for two minutes and cool on a sheet pan. When cool, cut on the bias into two-inch pieces; reserve.
Combine the shallots, honey, and vinegar in a mixing bowl. Add the oils using a whisk; season with salt and pepper.
Toss the asparagus with vinaigrette and dill to taste. Divide among four chilled plates and garnish with crumbled blue cheese.