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Horner Park Farmers Market to Debut in July

By Patty Wetli | April 11, 2014 7:53am
 Residents in the Horner Park area will have their very own farmers market within walking distance starting July 12.
Residents in the Horner Park area will have their very own farmers market within walking distance starting July 12.
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DNAinfo/Casey Cora

IRVING PARK — A self-confessed farmers market junkie, Gretchen Helmreich sometimes hits up three a week.

"I love that we can get all that fresh produce," she said.

Trouble is, none of those markets were within walking distance of her Irving Park home. So Helmreich, who's president of the Horner Park West Neighborhood Association, decided to champion the formation of a new market in Horner Park.

A year later, the official Horner Park Farmers Market will debut July 12 and run every Saturday through Sept. 27, with the potential for an extension into October. The market will run 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the corner of California and Montrose avenues, in front of the park's field house.

"I just wanted to be able to wake up on a Saturday morning and walk to get what I need," Helmreich said. "People are having to get in their cars or take public transportation to other markets every week."

A committee of five volunteers, working under the umbrella of the Horner Park Advisory Council, is organizing the market's inaugural season. Given the group's comparatively late start in getting the market up and running, the rush is on to sign up vendors.

"We've been reaching out since the end of March," said Helmreich, who signed on as chairwoman of the market committee. "We got great advice from Pat Clark at Independence Park and went to the Good Food Fest. We've started getting the word out."

Several produce vendors, an artisan cheese purveyor, a bakery and an organic meat vendor have already committed to the market, though Helmreich wasn't prepared to name names just yet.

Among the criteria being used to select vendors: a preference for growers using organic and sustainable practices (though it isn't a requirement); crops must be grown in Illinois and/or within 175
miles of Chicago; and the use of local, seasonal ingredients. To keep the emphasis on food, clothing and craft vendors are prohibited.

Applications are still being accepted, preferably submitted by Tuesday.

Volunteers, musicians and other entertainers interested in participating in the market can email farmersmarket@hornerpark.org.

"I'm excited," Helmreich said. "We really want this to be a place where the community gathers on Saturday mornings."