LINCOLN PARK — The weather might suggest otherwise, with threats of frost last week, but for certain foodies and just plain healthy eaters, spring finally, fully arrives with the return of the Green City Market to Lincoln Park.
After wintering at the Notebaert Nature Museum, the Green City Market, the king of Chicago farmers markets, began its twice-weekly schedule from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the south end of Lincoln Park, at 1817 N. Clark St. The same hours apply on Wednesdays, and the outdoor schedule continues through the end of October.
As a sure sign of spring, "it conjures up so many good things," Executive Director Melissa Flynn said. Some might delight in Opening Day of the baseball season, she added, but "my mouth waters just thinking about strawberries coming into season."
Green City sets itself apart, Flynn said, because "all of our vendors are either certified naturally grown, certified organic or they work with animals with no antibiotics, no hormones. So we are getting the best local food we can into the market."
Formally a nonprofit organization, it also welcomes those on public assistance not just by accepting Link cards, but by matching those purchases up to the first $15. "That's really important," Flynn said, "because according to the Greater Chicago Food Depository just $15 a week will move somebody from food-insecure to food-secure."
The market also aims to offer something for almost anyone, with a yoga class each market day from 7:30-8:15 a.m. (weather permitting), the Club Sprouts Program for kids, the compost program and Edible Gardens, growing and harvesting foods through the seasons, and of course the Chef Demo Program, each market day at 10:30 a.m., in which chefs offer tips on cooking foods in season, starting with Edward Kim of Ruxbin and Mott St. on Saturday.
"It's a really fun way to interact with the chefs," Flynn said. An online calendar says which chefs will appear when, leading toward the annual Chef BBQ, an evening event from 5:30-8 p.m. July 20 featuring 100 chefs and 25 beverage companies that Flynn calls "honestly, in my opinion, the best food event in the city of Chicago."
Along the way, Green City Market returns to the West Loop June 3 and begins its inaugural season at the Park at Wrigley Field June 15. By that time, even Mother Nature should have agreed that spring has sprung.