I’m splitting my time between Iowa City and Chicago this summer, so I rode my bike over to the opening weekend of Chicago’s Green City Market this morning. The kickoff was billed as a Rally for Sustainable Agriculture, but what that really meant was a 10th birthday party for the Market, complete with an emcee, a speech from Frontera Grill chef Rick Bayless, and a ceremonial organic rhubarb cake cut by none other than Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
[Chef Rick Bayless greets his adoring fans.]
[Green City Market founder Abby Mandel and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley cut Green City Market’s birthday cake.]
[Organic rhubarb birthday cake was served to all the attendees.]
It was great to see so many people out on an early Saturday morning, talking with local farmers and sampling food from the many vendors. The children from the Market’s Sprouts for Kids Program added a little color to the gathering with their bright chef hats.
[Kids from the Sprouts for Kids program at the Market.]
Despite – or perhaps because of – the turnout, though, I was reminded that Chicago’s low income residents don’t seem to be well-represented at the market. To the best of my knowledge, the only farmers’ market in Chicago to accept food stamps is still the Logan Square Farmer’s Market, which began accepting food stamps for payment in Summer 2007.
Two groups at the Green City Market, though, are working against this elision of low-income Chicagoans at the market: Growing Power and Growing Home. Milwaukee- and Chicago-based Growing Power “inspires communities to build sustainable food systems that are equitable and ecologically sound, creating a just world, one food-secure community at a time,” while Chicago- and Marseilles-based Growing Home‘s mission is “to provide job training and create employment opportunities for homeless and low-income people in Chicago within the context of a non-profit organic agriculture business.” Their produce is also gorgeous!
[Green, green, and more green on display at the Growing Power table.]
Keep up the good work!