Green City Market
Chicago’s Green City Market (GCM) is the city’s largest year-round all-local farmers market with a mission of providing a marketplace that educates, promotes, and connects farmers and local producers directly to chefs, restaurateurs, and the greater Chicago community.
After a 1998 visit to the farmers markets of Europe, local foods pioneer Abby Mandel returned home to Chicago determined to create a similarly sustainable market in her own city. GCM began as a small startup with nine local farmers. Today, over 50 Midwest producers come to market each season, serving crowds of over 175,000 visitors every year.
In 2004, Jeanne Nolan had just returned to the Chicago area after seventeen years living and working on organic communal farms. Looking to get involved with the sustainable foods movement that had grown in her absence, Jeanne took up a GCM position as Abby’s assistant. Upon her first visit to the thriving market that spring, Jeanne recalls, “It was almost as if the future I’d worked toward at the farm – a piece of that dream – had come vividly to life.”
A short year later, Abby asked Jeanne to transform the existing demonstration garden at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Farm-in-the-Zoo. Abby envisioned an interactive project the likes of Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, CA – a place for children and families to learn about where their food comes from and how to grow it themselves – an extension of the market. Jeanne took on her first major urban food production project and created The Edible Gardens, starting with a small plot at the farm’s entrance and eventually expanding into the full 5,000 square-foot space that it is today.
Today, Jeanne and The Organic Gardener team maintain The Edible Gardens in partnership with GCM and Lincoln Park Zoo. Welcoming over 25,000 visitors annually, the Gardens are open to the public from April through November. TOG’s garden educators and Lincoln Park Zoo volunteers work together to host school groups, field trips, and adult workshops throughout the season.
Local schools and community organizations can arrange for a free tour of The Edible Gardens by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Tours include an interactive walk-through of the Gardens, tasting of seasonal produce, and hands-on garden activities – planting, watering, turning compost, harvesting, seed saving, and more. Garden lessons vary with the seasons, and may include pollination, organics, seed germination, composting, and climate.
On Wednesdays, scheduled tours of the Gardens can be combined with a visit to GCM, located just across the street. This portion includes a guided tour of the market, a meet-and-greet session with a local farmer, and seasonal tasting table of fruits, veggies, and herbs.
We’ve hosted school groups from Pre-K through University, from all of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, other states, and even other countries. In just a short visit, these young visitors receive a hearty, hands-on immersion into the local movement. For many urban children, this may be their first experience pulling a carrot straight from the ground – or even their first experience tasting a carrot!
Adult gardening workshops are also held at the Gardens each month. Led by Jeanne and TOG gardeners, these workshops are season-specific and focus on methods of growing food locally and organically. Check out GCM’s calendar or our Appearances page for more information and to RSVP.
As long time partners of Green City Market, we so appreciate what their work means for the larger good food movement. They’re innovative and aware, with tools like their LINK-matching food stamps program for shoppers. And their approach to sustainability is full-circle – just this past year, GCM donated over 60,000 pounds of unpurchased or unused produce from farmers. We share goals of land stewardship, nature connection, and quality of life for urban and suburban dwellers alike. GCM serves as in invaluable resource for Chicagoland, and an important model for the future of food. Come grow with us!
The Edible Gardens Hours
Open 9:30am – 12:30pm
April: Wed & Sat
May – October: Wed, Thurs & Sat
November: Wed & Sat
Green City Market
Hours & Location
Lincoln Park Outdoor Market
1817 N Clark Street
May – October
Wed & Sat 7am – 1pm
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Indoor Market November – April
Scheduled Saturdays only
(see GCM’s online calendar for exact dates)