The city has transformed an old cafe across the street from the Cultural Center into its very own market. Nearly every local farmer and artisanal food manufacturer has some shelf space-- and it's perfect for downtown workers or visitors who may not have the time during the week to pick up farm-fresh produce.
If Chicago's local culinary team put together an all-star lineup, it would look much like the shelves at the new Downtown Farmstand on East Randolph.
"What we were looking to do was remind people that so many things are local and to put it in a place that's really very visible and not only peopled by workers but the tourists and the people who live around here," said Judith Dunbar Hines, Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs.
They'll spot local stars like their fingerling potatoes from Nichols Farm in Marengo; acorn squash from Iron Creek Farm in LaPorte, Indiana; and all kinds of fruit and cider from Seedling Farm in Michigan. The famous, hearty Italian braising greens and herbs from Kinnikinnick Farm near Rockford are used by local chefs, but anyone can buy them. Same goes for the mushrooms from Burlington, Wisconsin.
Red Hen Bread bakes up local baguette and sandwich loaves while the well-regarded Floriole Bakery provides some unique twists. Roof Top Honey comes from apiaries that actually exist on top of City Hall, and the fruit preserves from Tomato Mountain Farm in Wisconsin are well worth it. Those with a sweet tooth will appreciate the homemade seasonal pies from First Slice Cafe, a local non-profit that helps the homeless and hungry. Their cherry and apple varieties are some of the best in town.
Another highlight, short cooking demos - utilizing the bounty of the farmer's market - will teach hungry shoppers how to make the most of their purchases.
Hines says with so much locally-produced food to choose from, keeping things within a short radius has been easy.
"We set a limit of 250 miles, but in fact, as it turns out at the moment, nothing is from that far away; everything is much more close by," said Hines.
Rather than just a once-a-week experience, the market is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays, from 11a.m. until 4 p.m. For now, plans are to keep the Farmstand running through mid-December.
66 E. Randolph St.
Open until mid-December
Tues. - Friday, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Green City Market
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Drive in Chicago's Lincoln Park,
Wednesdays and Saturdays, November 1 through December 20 from 8 a.m. to 1p.m.