Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday)

Green City Market opens early, bringing thousands to Lincoln Park


Crowds hungry for a taste of spring came in droves Saturday to hunt for farm fresh fare and artisan baked goods on the opening day of the Green City Market in Lincoln Park.

Mary Wongkamala­sai, owner of Edgewater’s pHlour Bakery, sold out of everything she brought with hours to go before the market closed. Standing next to an empty display case, she told people another batch of their of their beloved sourdough bread was on the way from the bakery.

After seven years at the market, Wongkamala­sai said selling out on opening day was “very unusual.”

“[The market has] grown our business tremendous­ly,” she said. “It’s a great community event.”

Green City Market opened its 25th season earlier than ever this year thanks for help from a slew of grants and community donations. The seasonal market hosted more than 40 vendors on opening day — about double what is typical at this point in the season, organizers said.

Mandy Moody, executive director of the twice-weekly market, said many of the vendors sold out within hours of opening on Saturday, thanks to the thousands of customers anxious to buy fresh produce.

“Our community rallied around us and donated,” Moody said. “It’s such a great way to start the 25th season.”

Steve Freeman, of Marengo-based Nichols Farm and Orchard, has worked at Green City Market nearly every year since its inception in a Loop alleyway. His day starts at 2:30 a.m., packing the farm’s trucks with apples, corn, beets and other produce to make it to the city with time to set up before it opens at 7 a.m.

The market had been great for the secondgene­ration, family-owned farm’s business by helping them connect the farm’s produce with Chicago chefs.

“It became the place to see what farms have available, so a chef can shape their menu around what they see,” Freeman said.

Freeman said there’s a special pride in selling food that he has labored to grow.

“To be able to plant something, watch it grow … and then watch the person walk away with it is sort of this full-circle experience that’s unique,” Freeman said.

Lauren Polito, a 27-year-old Bucktown resident, walked around the market with her mom, Carol Polito. They had already purchased salsa and were on their way to pick up grilled cheese sandwiches from Loop-based Gayle V’s Best Ever Grilled Cheese.

The pair started going to the market regularly together five years ago. They said they love seeing how much it has grown in recent years, particular­ly after seeing the market scaled back during the pandemic.

The younger Polito said it was exciting to see the big crowds on opening day.

“It’s one of the best parts of being in this city.”

 ?? PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES ?? People browse herbs Saturday in Lincoln Park on Green City Market’s opening day.
PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES People browse herbs Saturday in Lincoln Park on Green City Market’s opening day.

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