Today is April 27th here in Chicago land and for the first time this year I am sitting on my balcony wearing shorts while I write this. Granted I have on a long sleeve shirt and a hooded sweatshirt but I am in shorts! As every Chicagoan knows, this has been a long, cold and wet spring that has had only 8 days above 60 degrees this year. I sip a cup of coffee (Sumatra) from the Coffee and Tea Exchange in Lakeview knowing that this is sweater weather for most of the country. I also sit here knowing that starting next week, May 4th, my Saturday routine will change for the better. That is because the Green City farmers market goes out doors into Lincoln Park.
Almost every Saturday in the late spring through the early fall, my dog and I walk to the bank and withdraw $40 and then head over to that stretch of Lincoln Park between North Ave and the Lincoln Park Zoo entrance. That is where local farmers have sprawled out onto a couple acres with just picked fruits, vegetables and herbs. It is where you can get specialty and artisanal Wisconsin cheese. Last year I bought a 4lb slab of pork belly from a 400 acre farm in Dubuque Iowa where the pigs roam free all day and eat organic corn, hay and grain. I was able to do this because Becker Lane farm is there every Saturday. Each week I buy at least 1 dozen farm fresh eggs and a baguette from Bennison’s Bakery for my breakfast when I get back home. I walk around and look, feel and smell the products. I plan out a couple of meals for the week based on what looks especially good and fresh.
After a few weeks of the outdoor season, familiar faces go from pleasant nods to spoken “hi’s”, “hello’s” and “how are you’s”. There is a Sesame Street “Who are the people in your neighborhood” vibe that brings a genuine sense of community to the market. Folks are smiling, kids are running around, dogs checking out other dogs. Even a few of the Florida snow birds are back and catch up with one another. This seasonal outdoor market is one of the things I love about my neighborhood and this great city of Chicago.