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Top ten vendors at Chicago’s Green City Market

The Green City Market offers some of Chicago's best local, sustainable food
The Green City Market offers some of Chicago's best local, sustainable food
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago’s largest farmers market recently kicked off its sixteenth year, moving its diverse range of local, sustainably raised produce to its summer location at the south end of Lincoln Park. The Green City Market, open in the park from 7am to 1pm every Wednesday and Saturday until the end of October and indoors at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center on Saturdays in the winter, has received national recognition for its mission of improving the availability of high range food and its dedication to connecting local farmers to both professional chefs and the general public. See its full history and calendar at http://www.greencitymarket.org/.

But the Green City Market’s wide array of products, from produce to meat and fish to cheese to pantry staples, has one drawback: how does a discerning shopper pick the best booths? Here, for your culinary assistance, is a list of the top ten vendors at Chicago’s favorite farmers market.

Bennison's Bakery (Evanston, IL)
Bennison's Bakery (Evanston, IL) Emily Naser-Hall

Bennison's Bakery (Evanston, IL)

This family-owned bakery opened in 1938 and offers a variety of delicacies crafted by two Certified Master Bakers. The Bennison’s Bakery booth at the Green City Market offers a wide selection of artisanal breads, breakfast pastries, and scones. Their brioche, topped with crunchy sugar crystals, somehow manages to be simultaneously richly buttery and delightfully light. (http://www.bennisonscakes.com/ and http://www.greencitymarket.org/farmers/farmer.asp?id=61)

Bushel and Peck's (Monroe, WI)
Bushel and Peck's (Monroe, WI) Emily Naser-Hall

Bushel and Peck's (Monroe, WI)

Two Chicago natives moved to Monroe, Wisconsin to open a certified organic farm known as Grass is Greener Gardens. Rich Horbaczewski and Jackie Gennett also own Bushel and Peck’s Local Market and Preservation Kitchen and offer homey (yet infinitely tastier than most homemade) pickles, jams, sauces, relishes, and syrups at their Green City Market booth. The red currant jelly offers a nice zip to wheat bagels with honey walnut cream cheese. (http://bushelandpecks.com/ and http://www.greencitymarket.org/farmers/farmer.asp?id=74)

Capriole Goat Cheese (Greenville, IN)
Capriole Goat Cheese (Greenville, IN) Emily Naser-Hall

Capriole Goat Cheese (Greenville, IN)

Judy and Larry Schad operate an 80-acre farm in southern Indiana where they use fresh goat’s milk to produce some of the finest cheeses in the country. Winner of the Best-of-Show from the American Cheese Society and the Conservation Business of the Year Award, Capriole’s goat cheeses are the handmade designer purses to every other goat cheese’s cheap knockoff sold out of the trunk of a car. The Schads live five hours from Chicago and therefore only come to the Green City Market a few times each month, but Judy will email interested customers to alert them to upcoming appearances. (http://www.capriolegoatcheese.com/ and http://www.greencitymarket.org/farmers/farmer.asp?id=12)

Cookies and Carnitas (Chicago, IL)
Cookies and Carnitas (Chicago, IL) Emily Naser-Hall

Cookies and Carnitas (Chicago, IL)

This Edgewater restaurant, now located at 5757-59 N. Broadway Street, started as a vendor at the Green City Market. Known for their porchetta sandwiches and cookies the size of your face, the Cookies and Carnitas booth sells a variety of sandwiches, tacos, pizza, and, of course, cookies to hungry farmers market patrons. With the addition of bacon, even a chocolate chip cookie at 8am counts as breakfast. (http://www.cookiesandcarnitas.com/ and http://www.greencitymarket.org/farmers/farmer.asp?id=93)

Hoosier Mama Pie Company (Chicago, IL)
Hoosier Mama Pie Company (Chicago, IL) Emily Naser-Hall

Hoosier Mama Pie Company (Chicago, IL)

Hoosier Mama owner Paula Haney has been making pies since childhood, and you can definitely tell. Her Green City Market booth offers miniature pies in a variety of flavors, spanning from the traditional (rhubarb and Granny Smith apple) to the unique (vinegar chess), as well as scones, muffins, and savory hand pies. Paula’s cherry turnovers may very well be the best thing you ever eat in your entire life. Die-hard (or pie-hard) fans can visit the original Hoosier Mama Pie Shop at 1618-1/2 W. Chicago Avenue or the new Pie and Coffee Café at 749 N. Chicago in Evanston. (http://www.hoosiermamapie.com/ and http://www.greencitymarket.org/farmers/farmer.asp?id=30)

Iron Creek Farm (LaPorte, IN)
Iron Creek Farm (LaPorte, IN) Emily Naser-Hall

Iron Creek Farm (LaPorte, IN)

If tomatoes are your summer staple, then the Iron Creek Farm booth will be your Green City Market home away from home. The farm has been family-owned for over 100 years and now supplies some of Chicago’s top restaurants with their exceptional produce. This large vendor is guaranteed to meet just about any seasonal fruit or vegetable need. Adventurous eaters can pick up weekly CSA boxes filled with Iron Creek Farm’s picks for best produce. (http://www.ironcreekfarm.com/ and http://www.greencitymarket.org/farmers/farmer.asp?id=48)

Mick Klug Farm (St. Joseph, MI)
Mick Klug Farm (St. Joseph, MI) Emily Naser-Hall

Mick Klug Farm (St. Joseph, MI)

A freshly shelled pea is a double-edged sword. It will probably be some of the best produce you’ve ever tasted, but it will completely ruin you for frozen peas for the rest of your life. If this is a risk you’re willing to take, visit the small but amply supplied Mick Klug Farm booth at the Green City Market. Mick and his family bring a wide range of seasonal fruits and vegetables to their booth every weekend, including peaches, his biggest seller, and those crave-worthy shelled peas. Look for over ten varieties of seedless grapes at this stand in the fall. (http://www.mickklugfarm.com/-/ and http://www.greencitymarket.org/farmers/farmer.asp?id=24)

Mint Creek Farm (Stelle, IL)
Mint Creek Farm (Stelle, IL) Emily Naser-Hall

Mint Creek Farm (Stelle, IL)

Balance out your Green City Market menu with some truly exceptional local proteins. Harry Carr and his family at Mint Creek Farm believe in 100% grass-fed animal nutrition and, as a result, produce some of the healthiest and most delicious meat in the area. This regularly appearing booth offers beef, lamb, chicken, duck, and turkey, along with some more elusive proteins such as goose and goat. Host a Charles Dickens throwback night with roast goose and figgy pudding, or experiment with a delicious and underappreciated dish—braised goat. (http://mintcreekfarm.com/ and http://www.greencitymarket.org/farmers/farmer.asp?id=41)

Nichols Farm and Orchard (Marengo, IL)
Nichols Farm and Orchard (Marengo, IL) Emily Naser-Hall

Nichols Farm and Orchard (Marengo, IL)

Nichols Farm and Orchard operates large booths at many of Chicago’s farmers markets, but their booth at the Green City Market offers the most incredibly comprehensive variety of local produce. The Nichols family, probably some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, grows more than 1000 cultivars of fruits and vegetables on their northern Illinois farm. The Nichols booth can be easily identified by its copiously filled bins of potato, tomato, and apple varietals. When apple season rolls around, be sure to stop by and sample the family’s unique autumnal varieties, which staff will slice for your tasting pleasure at the slightest sign of interest. (http://www.nicholsfarm.com/ and http://www.greencitymarket.org/farmers/farmer.asp?id=7)

River Valley Ranch (Burlington, WI)
River Valley Ranch (Burlington, WI) Emily Naser-Hall

River Valley Ranch (Burlington, WI)

Mushrooms can be a polarizing food, but River Valley Ranch proudly stands on the side of the pro-fungus. Bill Rose owns the oldest mushroom farm in the Midwest and has dedicated his life to producing the finest fresh mushrooms in the area. Mushroom lovers can find expected offerings such as portabella and crimini, as well as some more unique varieties like oyster and shiitake. River Valley Ranch has also branched out to other produce, sauces, and soups. Expand your mushroom horizons with their oft-changing variety bags. (http://rivervalleykitchens.com/ and http://www.greencitymarket.org/farmers/farmer.asp?id=15)