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In Full Flower: Green City Market makes life of senses in the summer

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Photo: Green City Market

By Elias Cepeda

Jerry Heward didn’t know a thing about flowers growing up as a city boy in Northern Indiana. Yet he is surrounded by and selling purple lilac look-alikes on a sunny Wednesday morning in Lincoln Park. Heward is one of more than fifty vendors at the Green City Market.

“I was never really interested in this type of thing when I was young,” Jerry says. “My son actually got us started, my wife and myself. When he was in high school he worked for a farmer, a local farmer who lived in the city, and he would bring home these beautiful flowers and plant them in our backyard. Each year they’d get bigger and bigger. Our backyard ran out of room and so we said that we’ve got to move out into the country, buy some acreage and that’s how we got started.”

Today, Jerry and Jill’s Stoney Run Fields farm is a ten-year veteran of the Green City Market. The market itself has grown from a sparsely attended tiny alley operation next to the Chicago Theatre in 1998, to having more than 80,000 annual visitors a decade later.

All of the produce, meat, cheese, bread, flowers and more sold at the Green City Market are produced locally and in sustainable manners, in adherence with the market’s guidelines. Though Jerry, a retiree, says he does not depend on his flower business for income, he says the market does play a “big role,” in their overall sales.

Every Wednesday and Saturday he wakes up near dawn in order to pack up his flowers, make the trip to Chicago and set up his booth at the market by the 7am opening time. As a reformed city dweller turned farmer, Heward is patient with his mostly urban customers, and quick with a folksy axiom. Read the rest of this entry »

Greener Pastures: Ray Pride checks the organic farmer’s market where the chefs shop

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Wednesday mornings through October, for the sixth year, Lincoln Park reverts to farmland, or at least to the fruit of the land. The grassy expanses host an intimately scaled town square, Chicago’s Green City Market, a not-for-profit group whose goal is to support fresh, local and sustainable products.

Founder Abby Mandel’s supervised the operation as chairman of the board of directors for six years. “And I make organic plates every single Wednesday so come by and have one.” Read the rest of this entry »